On November 5, 2005, Kayamba Lawum was baptized into Christ.With a small number of onlookers and little fanfare, a miracle happened.There were only a few present because Kayamba was urgent.And to him, it wasn?t about a crowd.It was about salvation.It was about God and his relationship to Him.But that is far from the full story.Let?s go back just a little ? to the beginning.
Kayamba was born in The Democratic Republic of Congo (formerly Zaire).He grew up very poor, as do the large majority of people in the Congo.When missionaries came from the West, his family became a part of a Protestant Church, the Mennonite Brethren.At the age of 18, Kayamba decided to enter the ministry.He would go to seminary, receive his master?s degree and attend many Bible training courses throughout the continent.His thesis paper studied the concept of the kingdom of God as it is found in the gospel of Mark and as it relates to the impoverished in Africa.
The Congo is presently a very dangerous place.There is much killing between competing tribes, all searching for power.Several people from Kayamba?s congregation in Kinshasa, the capital city, have been murdered over the course of the last few years.Finally, in August of 2005, Kayamba fled the Congo for the United States.
By God?s providence, he came to New Britain, Connecticut, to stay with his brother, who had also fled the violence in the Congo.Kayamba ended up living only a few blocks away from the new building purchased by the Greater Hartford Church of Christ.One day, while walking by, Kayamba decided to drop in for a visit.He came the initial day the building was opened at 9 AM ? on September 11.
From the first day, Kayamba?s humble heart has been evidenced by all who have met him.Kayamba began Bible studies with Bob Oberle, Ian Nicholson and others.Over the first few weeks, he helped work on the building ? scraping windows, painting and doing anything needed.
In regards to the Bible studies, here is what Kayamba shared at his baptism, ?First of all, I want to thank God . . . .It was very different to think about the Bible?s teaching on what it meant to be a true disciple . . . .My eyes were also opened as we talked about sin.We read James 5:16 and for the first time I got open with the brothers about my own life . . . .The hardest study of all was repentance and baptism.I began to see that I had not understood God?s plan for forgiveness of sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit as stated in Acts 2:36-41.?
Eventually Kayamba wrestled with his decision for about a week.Finally he picked up the phone, made a call and said, ?I want to get right with God as soon as possible.?
Following Kayamba?s amazing decision, he shared before both services of the church on the following Sunday.No one left unmoved by his heart, words and conviction.Though we sang some new songs, had a great guest speaker, and showed a moving video ? the day is remembered as the Sunday Kayamba shared.
Kayamba is 46 years old.That is the average, life expectancy in the Congo.His home country is in much poverty and conflict.He prays regularly for his family and friends ? his people in Africa.His heart is also moved by his family here.Kayamba has been bringing his brother, sister-in-law and their three children out to services with him.He has shared his first language, French, with many in the church.He has fellowshipped, had meals, prayed and connected with many.
Only God knows the rest of the story.But this preacher, with an Apollos-like heart, has touched us all very deeply already.We are convinced God has great plans for his future and the many others who will be touched by him.