Friday, February 10, 2012

Reunion with a sister



I'm pictured here with Rev. Mutombo Illunga Kimba and her son, Glory. We had a joyous reunion in Harare. Our family connection spans many years.

Rev. Kimba was the first UMC clergywoman ordained in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 1979. A few years later, she met my father, Bishop Ben Oliphint, when he visited the North Katanga Annual Conference. Rev. Kimba attended Scarritt College in Nashville, where she received a Master's in Christian Education. During her time in the United States, she spent several weeks in my parents' home and forged a life-long friendship. I met Rev. Kimba at the 1988 General Conference. She served on the Africa Church Growth and Development Committee, which became the Africa Initiative, which gave birth to Africa University.

Rev. Kimba serves as Coordinator of Professional Schools in the South Congo Episcopal Area. She and her husband have four children; one son is named Oliphint after my family! Her son, Glory, is a student at Africa University and is President of the Congo Students Association.

Our paths were able to cross in Zimbabwe. She was there for the recent African Clergywoman's Consultation,where she was a keynote presenter, and I was there for the pre-General Conference briefing. We spent a wonderful afternoon getting reacquainted after all these years of writing letters and sending emails. The shirt I'm wearing in the picture was embroidered by Rev. Kimba. Over the years, she's sent hand-sewn crafts for me to sell at mission fairs to help with tuition costs for her son, Oliphint.

It was a tearful time for us both as she recounted her time with my parents. "When I was in Papa and Mama Oliphint's home, it was like it was my home. They treated me like their daughter. So that means you and I are sisters," she said. Our visit was an amazing and blessed time.

Once again, I am grateful to God for the friendships afforded me across miles, languages and cultures through the connection of the United Methodist Church!