Rev. Madeline Bomboko was Director of the Disciples’ (Communaute des Disciples du Christ au Congo) Losanganya Guest House in Mbandaka when she began to receive some unexpected guests. It all began one day in 2003 on a street in downtown Mbandaka.
A disheveled, emaciated woman with fine features intrigued Madeline. What was the cause of the woman’s sorry condition? Who was she? Where was she from? The woman noticed Madeline and approached her. “I have nothing and don’t know anyone to help me” she told her.
The woman had fled the terror that gripped her city of Bunia in northeast Congo. She walked 1000 miles to Mbandaka with nothing but the clothes she wore. The woman named Fatouma feared the worst for her family left behind.
Through Fatouma, Madeline Bomboko came to know and hear the stories of over 40 women who had taken refuge in Mbandaka. She fed them and helped some of them find a place to stay. But above all, she listened to their stories of the horror that had driven the women to take refuge so far from home. Madeline called the non-profit she founded Women’s Listening Ministry.
Most of the displaced women returned home when the fighting around Bunia subsided about three years ago. But one woman returned and sought out Madeline as soon as she arrived back in Mbandaka. She wanted to give her a sleeping mat made in the traditional grass weaving style of her region. On her return to Bunia, she had found none of her family. There was no one, nothing left there to hold her there; Madeline had helped her make a new life in Mbandaka and she would live there now.
It was also Madeline who had inspired the woman to give herself a new name. She would no longer be known by the name of the family she had lost. Her new name was Marie Catherine Sauve Vie or Marie Catherine “who saves life”.
Footnote: Rev. Madeline Bomboko was the first woman to be ordained as a pastor by the Communaute des Disciples du Christ au Congo. T
By Rev. Doug Smith, World Relief Services