This report is initially designed for Shiloh Restoration Church, we serve resettled Swahili speaking refugees and immigrants from the Democratic Republic of Congo, who are not attending any church due to language barriers.
The Democratic Republic of Congo is the second Africa biggest country after Algeria, the country is extremely wealthy blessed with all kind of natural resources such as diamonds, gold, copper, cobalt, zinc, coltan (which is used in mobile phones and other electronic gadgets), uranium, woods etc. Unfortunately, all these natural resources wealth has rarely been in benefit of Congolese people. These natural riches corrupt governments, and divided the population between competing ethnic groups which led to various rebellions and political conflicts.
The conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo, has killed over 5.4 million people since 1996, women and young girls were victims of raped while men and young boys killed in violent attacks, homes and properties destroyed and burned. This conflict has been known as Africa’s first world war. Over 1.6 million people were forced to flee the country and seek for asylum in other Africa country. In different refugee camps, refugees are living with frustration, fear and traumatized this seemed impossible to them to control the situation that’s why their spiritual foundation was gone thinking that God has abandoned them.
When resettled in the United States, they found themselves unable to worship God or attend any church due to language barriers. With desire to improve their integration process in Raleigh, Pastor Nicole and I felt the need to lead them back to God through prayer, exhortation, encouragement… we began to offer up the desires of our heart to God, which was an individual conviction leading to purposeful action.
Empower by the Holy Spirit, we started with a small team of people committed to loving God and loving others. We began meeting every Sunday for prayer, dialogue and envisioning. Our deepest desire has been to help Swahili speaking folks to grow in genuine community and use this community as a springboard to reach others for the Kingdom of God. We started by meeting in my living room, on Sunday October 2, 2016. In that meeting I was only one with my wife (Nicole) and 4 little children (Daniel, Huldah, Caleb, and Benedict). The presence of the Holy Spirit was so strong, and the Lord started ministering to us about the possibility of starting a church that can help all Swahili speaking refugees and bring them back to God. On October 9, 2016 we had 11 visitors during our worship in my house. They also started ministering to other people who felt the same need and were really concerned about refugee’s spiritual lives because of regular visit of Jehovah witness and other religion groups trying to deceive refugees in exchange to help and support. October 16, 2016 during our third worship service in my living room, we had 24 people in attendance I didn’t know exactly what to do with all those people and I started believing God for directions. God touch brother Mark and Kim Wyatt who connected us with Greystone Baptist Church, Andy CBF church start coordinator, Cindy and others. Our first meeting was a successful one, it’s helped us to define God’s vision and calling for Swahili speaking refugees. We started having meeting with CBF church start coordinator, start leadership training…
October 23, 2016, we continue with our worship service at home, that day we had 34 people in attendance. My house which was 2 bedrooms apartment became small unable to accommodate all the people. On October 29, 2016 during refugee stakeholder meeting, refugee spiritual concern was raised. After brainstorming moment, we came out with suggestion to discuss with Saint Philip Lutheran church for a space to worship. On November 6, 2016 the request was granted by church leaders to give us permission of using the basement hall for our Sunday services. At that time, we had only 1 small piano, we started trusting God for music equipment supplies before November 13th, 2016. God really answered our prayers in providing everything we needed for our first official worship service.
After much planning and prayers, we embrace a vision to officially start a new Swahili speaking church in the community. On November 13, 2016 we held our first official worship service at Saint Philip Lutheran Church, 7304 Falls of Neuse Road, Raleigh, NC 27615 at the basement Hall. This first service encouraged us and reminded us that our existence wasn’t defined by what people can see or say neither by a comfortable space, but people who loved Jesus and who love each other, and longed to see the hope of Christ spread.
The primary objective of our church is to improve the standard of spiritual living of at risk Swahili speaking refugee families by providing hope to refugees who are dealing with challenges and despair in their lives. Due to our unique characteristics and culture, we realized that we can reach out to all Swahili speaking people in different communities with the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ and prevent them from false preachers trying to deceive people.
After a successful birth of Shiloh Restoration Church in the community people started attending a church where they can be able to worship God in their own language and their spiritual struggle was transformed into a stronger belief in Jesus. The church continues to show them love of God by providing spiritual and material supports. People began to attend the church regularly and witnessed the power of faith, they realized that everybody is bearing the cross in different ways, just like Jesus did. People start coming and we continue to grow by the help of the Holy Spirit, over 129 adults and 45 children has attended and visited the church. This journey has brought joy and happiness to us. Our Lord Jesus Christ continue to raise the church out of obscurity and give our members the courage to face the challenges in their lives.
In June 2017 Nicole and I were commissioned by CBF as church starter, this partnership with CBF has been a pouch for the church to move forward because we understood that efforts and courage are not enough without purpose and direction. We’ve been able to clearly define our vision for the church, set tangible goals, strategic planning…
On November 12, 2017 we celebrate our successful anniversary as you can see pictures attached. It was a successful event where we had over 148 people in attendance, including CBFNC coordinator Doctor Linda, her husband, Mark and Kim Wyatt, Pastor Stuart from Hickory Rock Baptist Church Louisburg… Pastor Amanda from Greystone Baptist Church blessed us with a powerful word from God on vision.
This year we had an opportunity to pass good time with God at Mundo Del Vista Camp with Amy and Mike. This was one of the greatest moment we ever had. Planning to back again by God’s grace.
We also had opportunity to feed our people during thanksgiving last year with turkey, rice, oil, and fruits. This single act served as outreach event which helped us to have more members in attendance.
We received a donation of 75 children Care packages to be distributed to children before they start school year. Pastor Felix distributing care packages to children after Sunday service.
We have so many things to accomplished, we can do nothing without your support. Please, go to www.srechinc.org make your donation and support our program.
We want to appreciate all your efforts in supporting us with your prayers, resources, and your commitment to us regarding our 2 older children (Guershon Iyoko and Grace Iyoko) who were left in Congo for over 15 years, today, they’re together with us in the United States since September 13, 2017 as you can see them in the picture bellow. Let all glory be to our Lord Jesus.
Please, pray with us as we’re trusting God for a permanent worship place for our church. The space we’re using does not permit us to be used on week days for church growth activities.
THANKS BE TO GOD.
Pastor Felix and Nicole Iyoko