by Pastor Bernd Hühmer
When the congregations of our partner church Bolenge in the Democratic Republic Congo are asking for donations in their services, no collection bag is passed through the rows, and there is no one with a basket at the exit.
No, the collection is an important part in the middle of the service: the visitors come to the front singing and dancing and put their gifts, often pennies, in various boxes or baskets.
Each of these baskets stands for a different donation purpose: one is collected for the choirs of the community, in the next for youth or women’s work. There is a basket for paying the pastor and one for the new church roof. Sometimes 8 – 10 baskets are held up at a church service collection, and people decide for themselves what they consider particularly important and with how much money they want to support something. There are no church taxes in the Congo, and the congregations finance their work and their pastors mainly through this worship collection.
Now something happened in spring that I have not experienced in the 20 years of my partnership contacts to Bolenge: On a Sunday in April, another collection basket appeared in all services of the church district Bolenge, on which it said „Corona in Dortmund“. And not much later we received the news from our partners that 155 dollars had been collected in their church services for the corona victims and their families here in Dortmund. The fact that we donate money for projects in Bolenge and for the ambulance boat goes without saying. After all, it is God’s command that the one who has gives of what he has to those who need it. But that those who have nothing donate to those who live in abundance, that is not written anywhere.
That’s why this collection in the jungle was a strong sign for me: On one hand, I was touched and also a bit ashamed, because the money that was collected for us in Bolenge is missing elsewhere. On the other hand, I thought: This is real partnership! Partnership in which one is really interested in the other, in which one lives together and prays for each other, in which one stands by each other and helps each other in times of need.
Our partners had heard and seen in the winter how high the number of Covid-19-infections was in Germany and how many people died in the intensive care units. They wanted to help – despite the unfair worldwide distribution of vaccines, of which the Congo has hardly seen anything until today. But no matter: This was about something completely different, a signal of closeness and solidarity from Africa to Europe, from Bolenge to Dortmund!
We have now forwarded the 155.- Dollar to the homeless help of the Diakonie. The money will benefit people who have been particularly affected by the pandemic and who are dependent on a meal, social contacts and warming protection. I think that this use of the collection from the jungle is in the interest of our partners.