“When you see somebody else, without any reason whatsoever, jumping on you, shooting you, or using a machete to cut you, chopping you in a piece, you will not understand how to define that person,” says Karibu Oaks Fellowship Church Pastor John Ronel.
Most of us have never experienced anything like the civil war and consequent refugee camps that Pastor John and fellow Pastor Wausomba Baruwani experienced in their home country of the Congo. “Not only did we lose loved ones, you had to find a way to save yourself, regardless of what you may lose,” Pastor John says.
Pastor Wausomba says, “I compare the life in the refugee’s camp like to be in a jail.” After being held for several years in a camp in Tanzania, an opportunity for resettlement finally arrived. “Glory to God that a door was opened for us to come to the United States…One of the things which we enjoy that we didn’t have back home is peace,” says Pastor John. “Now you can sleep in your house without worrying that someone will come and chop your head.”
It has not all been easy since coming to the U.S. though. Adjusting to a new land and culture is extremely difficult, especially if the individual is not familiar with the language and has no connections for friendships.
Pastor John and his wife, Francoise, planted Oaks Fellowship in 2015 with the goal of helping African refugees in the Wichita area find a spiritual home. They focus on filling the confusing void that exists between the refugee’s former life and new life. They connect families with others from their home culture and with people, churches, and organizations that can help them start a new life.
“These people needed to be empowered. When we teach people, when we share the truth to people, we are equipping them,” Pastor John says. “The goal is to welcome new immigrants coming from Africa and nurture them spiritually so that they may not be swallowed by the society.”
Since 2015, The Oaks has acquired its own building, begun offering services in Swahili and Kinyarwanda (a Rwandan language), and gathered resources to help those in need around the world. The church body has also built special partnerships with World Impact and other groups who have helped support them and connect them to various resources.
It is gifts from World Impact’s donors and friends that make partnerships like these possible and opened the opportunity for Pastor John to translate World Impact’s discipleship resource “Fight the Good Fight of Faith” into Swahili and French. “We are using this material. It’s a very powerful tool which can help many people, and it’s just one of many.” Pastor John says, “World Impact has been very, very supportive to me. I’ve been blessed by many people to the point that even recalling their names would be hard.”
For Pastor Wausomba, this partnership has solidified his focus on the Bible and the Gospel. He says, “We don’t want someone to come tell us what the culture or their experience says to do. We are going to follow what the Bible teaches us to follow. This is what we believe, and we look at the Scriptures day by day.”
Wausomba and John have used resources and networking connections through World Impact to further their outreach to African immigrants and refugees in the Wichita area, as they have helped start six other African churches. They have even been able to help African Christians who are an ocean away, through their generosity. For example, they provided Bibles for church planters trained by World Impact Evangel Dean of Church Planting Bishop Charles Sekelwa of Tanzania.
We thank God that because of your support, we can partner with churches like Karibu Oaks Fellowship Church. Though the members of this church have faced unspeakable suffering, they are steadfast, hospitable, and full of joy. Pastor Wausomba sums it up, “Our manager, our boss, is Jesus. He sends us to save that person without looking at what he does. He’s going to transform that person. He knows what this person or that person will be.”