Churches Led by Sibling Pastors Build Intercultural Community Fueled by Foundation Support

L-R: Rev. Kiboko I. Kiboko and Dr. J. Kabamba Kiboko

Two pastors in different U.S. states – siblings who grew up in The Congo Central Conference of the United Methodist Church – have a connection to the Foundation for Evangelism through evangelistic ministry recognition and grant support. The churches they pastor are building evangelistic intercultural ministry that are reaching out and inviting their communities into relationship with Jesus Christ.

Dr. J. Kabamba Kiboko, the first woman ordained in the Southern Congo Conference of the UMC, pastors Forest Chapel United Methodist Church in the City of Forest Park, Cincinnati, Ohio. The church’s mission is “to live in Christ and make disciples of Christ for the transformation of our community, our world,” and they seek to be an all-inclusive, accepting, welcoming and outreaching church. The fruit of that work has been recognized by the denomination twice now through the awarding of the Harry Denman Evangelism Award, a national award sponsored by The Foundation for Evangelism.

Dr. Kabamba received the Harry Denman Evangelism award from the West Ohio Conference in 2015. Then, in 2022, the church she pastored, Forest Chapel UMC, nominated 16-year-old Saugath Chhetri for the Harry Denman Evangelism Youth Award for sharing his faith and his love with other people (see his video on YouTube). From Nepal, Saugath and his family were part of the Hindu religion before converting to Christianity and becoming members of Forest Chapel. Saugath is very active in the church’s ministries, primarily in the Bethlehem Bhutanese Ministry (BBM), a ministry initiative that reaches out to the Nepali speaking community surrounding Forest Chapel and internationally in Nepal, Bhutan, and Ludhiana, India. This ministry conducts worship services in the Nepali language and English, and hosts bible studies for this community. On December 17, 2023, they held their first fully bilingual worship service!  

Coats for Kids event at Forest Chapel UMC

Minister Lasang Ghising (Leader of the BBM Ministry at Forest Church) said this of Saugath’s devotion to ministry, “We are so blessed to have him [Saugath] in our BBM Ministry under our Forest Chapel United Methodist Church. His leadership and witness strengthen us.” 

In 2023, Forest Chapel United Methodist Church was also the recipient of an Equipping the Local Church grant from The Foundation for Evangelism for its initiative “Forest Park Kids Club and Safe Place.” This initiative gives the children in the community a safe place to meet at Forest Chapel to learn about God and build relationships with others in the congregation and community. Not coincidentally, Saugath Chhetri, is serving in this ministry initiative!  

Dr. Kabamba is excited about the impact and relationships built through the Forest Park Kids Club and Safe Place and the BBM Ministry. The local community has even reached out to her to help with building further connections. She says,

“God is doing a new thing at Forest Chapel United Methodist Church! My prayer is that this church will be a place of encounter and connection where love flows into the community, a place where people come and connect with one another and with God for the transformation of our community, our world. This is happening!

Dr. J. Kabamba Kiboko

In reflecting on the impact of the Equipping the Local Church grant Dr. Kabamba shared, “The Forest Park Kids Club is new. As it grows, we will see transformation externally in our wider community.” In October 2023, several city and county organizations partnered with the church for a Trunk-or-Treat event, providing donations and volunteers. Over 700 kids participated! “With Forest Chapel becoming a place of encounter, we see neighbors who are immigrants from Mauritania and Senegal; they do not speak English. So, in November [2023], we started a class to teach them English.”

Across the country in the culturally diverse Storm Lake Community of Iowa, Rev. Kiboko I. Kiboko, pastors Storm Lake United Methodist Church. Rev. Kiboko is the brother of Dr. J. Kabamba Kiboko. His congregation received an Equipping the Local Church grant in 2022 for their initiative, “Youth Evangelism among South Sudanese.”  

This ministry allows the church community at Storm Lake to establish new ways to connect with the local South Sudanese community of families and youth. Since being awarded a grant from The Foundation for Evangelism, Storm Lake has become a place of comfort for their South Sudanese community. Youth consider the church a safe and welcoming place to go and build relationships and learn, while parents and adults are able to build their own relationships with God and one another in the church. 

Rev. Kiboko told his story in a 2017 interview with Iliff People, of being called to ministry and shared some of the struggles he faced as an immigrant to The United States. As a student at Wichita State, he was called upon to lead a youth ministry, and as a lay person in the church was repeatedly called on by the pastor or others to help lead worship. While his sister was a pastor at the time, he did not feel called to the ministry, but others who saw his gifts encouraged him to go to seminary. Eventually he did and became a pastor in The United Methodist Church, even serving as a district superintendent. He said,

My dream is to see church people, before inviting anybody to their church, they should be able to invite them in their own homes for meals and start those relationships. Otherwise, it’s not transformational. It’s just a show piece. We are not in show business; we are about transforming lives.

Rev. Kiboko I. Kiboko

These two siblings from Democratic Republic of Congo, now living and pastoring in The United States in culturally diverse communities, are leading their congregations to participate in the “Abundant Living” God calls all Christians to. With catalytic grant support from The Foundation for Evangelism they are providing a way to improve their community’s standard of living by providing basic necessities, quality of life through belonging and fellowship, and perhaps the most important, spiritual or eternal life by invitation to a life transformed by Jesus Christ.  

To learn more about The Foundation for Evangelism and how we are acting as catalysts, please visit https://foundationforevangelism.org/

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