North Kivu Field office, Butembo, Democratic Republic of Congo.

Photo courtesy of North East Congo Union Mission.

North Kivu Field

By Muhindo Kyusa

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Muhindo Kyusa

First Published: April 3, 2021

The North Kivu Field (formerly known as North Kivu Association) is located in the eastern part of North Kivu Province of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. It occupies the two territories of Lubero and Beni. Its headquarters is in Kyaghala, Butembo City. A large part of the region is populated by the Nande tribe. The field has a common border to the east with Uganda, to the north with the province of Ituri, to the south with the territory of Rutshuru and to the west with the territory of Walikale. The territory of Lubero covers an area of 18,096 square kilometers and includes four communities (chiefdoms) while the territory of Beni covers an area of 7,484 square kilometers and also includes four communities (chiefdoms). There are two major cities in the region, Beni and Butembo. The average altitude of this region is around 1,500 meters but varies from 850 meters or a slope of 4,000 meters.

The North Kivu Field was originally organized as the North Congo Field in 1954.1 It was known as the North Zaire Field from 1971 to 1995.2 From 1995 to 2018, it was known as the North Kivu Association.3

Demographics

The population of the North Kivu Field is characterized by an attachment to the land. Ethnically, the population is homogeneous (especially in Lubero), made up predominantly of the Nande ethnic group. This homogeneity means that people know each other, sharing origins, social customs, professional memberships, religion, and networks which engender trust. It is through these networks that economic, social, and religious activities are carried out.

In 2014, the civil registry office estimated the population of the city of Beni at 311,723 inhabitants and the city of Butembo at 1,000,000 inhabitants. The population of the Beni Territory was estimated at 1,154,349 inhabitants and that of Lubero Territory at 1,238,265 inhabitants.4

The North Kivu Field, which is divided into fourteen church stations, has a membership of 57,279 members in 320 churches and 198 companies. It employs seventy-eight ministerial workers. The field runs 277 schools and twenty-nine health institutions. There are fifty-three chaplains working in schools and health centers.5

Establishment of the Adventist Church in Lubero and Beni

In 1939, a delegation of explorers arrived in Lubero Center, capital of the Lubero Territory. It was composed of two missionaries, Swiss A. A. Mater from Rwanda and Belgian D. E. Delhove from Kirundu, Democratic Republic of the Congo. Mater, who spoke the Rwandan language, was accompanied by two Rwandons, Masuhuko Methusela and Simon Ntizikwira. Delhove spoke Swahili, but was also accompanied by two Rwandans, Samuel Karekezi and Eliezer Rwanyonga.6 This delegation, authorized by the administrator of Lubero, occupied the Burundi-Bukokoma zone in Luotu. In 1940, they temporarily occupied Vighango in Luotu. The following year, 1941, other missionaries joined them at Vighango where they spent six months. Rwandan evangelists settled in Kamole to inspect the region.7

These early endeavors resulted in four new churches established in 1941 and 1942 at Kisinga, Rukemba, Kakohwa, and Kamole. The first members to be baptized into the Seventh-day Adventist Church were selected for training, followed by Ibrahim Kamabu, André Kalondero, Yohana Kataka, and Vwambale Kikenza.8 Many people were converted, and companies and churches were organized. The head office of the Seventh-day Adventist churches was established in Rwese and the missionary Samuel Karekezi was made the first district leader in 1942.9 In 1956, an association of Seventh-day Adventist churches was organized under the name of the North Congo Field.10

Methods Used to Spread the Message in the Lubero Territory

The message of the Seventh-day Adventist Church was facilitated by both preaching and teaching. Evangelists visited villages where they taught doctrine and those who accepted the message joined Bible study classes in preparation for baptism.

New converts in schools benefited from worship services in school chapels. They were taught to pray in the morning and evening, to participate in Bible study meetings led by volunteer missionaries, to be members of the Sabbath School. Schools were instituted for training people to preach the gospel of salvation in Christ. The first school-chapels were established in Rwese, Kakohwa, Kaseghe.

The First Education Institutions in Rwese

In 1944, Delhove opened the Rwese Primary School. Students studied French and Kiswahili, the history of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, hygiene, geography, natural science, education, and drawing. By the sixth year, it had earned respect in the village and was considered an authority.

A. A. Mater, a missionary from America, opened the seminary at Rwese in 1950. They aimed to train students in the Bible, methods of evangelism, church history, temperance, rhetoric, pastoral ministry, church administration, church music, languages, and pedagogy. Graduates of the program were prepared to serve as pastors, evangelists, and administrators.

Expansion of the Adventist Church in Beni and Lubero Territories (1960-1980)

After establishing the Seventh-day Adventist Church in North Kivu, growth was nurtured through the training of church workers and church members. In 1964, the president of the Association of Adventist Churches, P. G. Werner, implemented a training program that required church workers to read five books, The Gospel Ministry, Truth for our Time, the Church Manual, Daniel and Our Time, and For Better Africa (Wieland). Books were provided at a fifty percent discount.11

In major cities, literature evangelists distributed books and Voice of Prophecy Bible study correspondence courses were started.12 Some publications were translated into Swahili. The Sabbath School lessons used for baptismal classes were split into four volumes (one volume per term) and translated by David Elie Delhove. Pastor Andrea Kalondero translated 200 hymns from the hymnal into the local language, Kinande.13

As a result of these efforts, by 1964, the North Congo Field had 2,589 members in twenty-eight churches.14 They were organized in eight districts supervised by district pastors: Bukenye led by Muhindo Daniel, Ngulo led by Stefano Syalembereka, Utwe led by Samuel Kagheni, Luofu led by Katembo Martin, Masiki led by Jerome Kyavu, Beni led by Kasereka Daniel, Rwese led by Baluku Nikodeme, and Butemob led by Kambale Andrea.15

Evangelization and Education in Rwese and Butembo

In 1964, evangelistic campaigns were organized in the Butembo district of Butembo by P. G. Werner and Timothy Marzocchini in June and in Lukanga by Martin Gunderson, Javan Ntaganda, and Metusela Kasereka for six weeks in July and August. The same year, a chapel-school was built in Butembo by the Rwese Association. Correspondence courses were also organized and led by a skilled worker.16 In 1966, a secondary school was established in Lukanga and in 1967 a primary school was organized at Rwese with six classes.17 Four new local churches were organized in Butembo, Kanyabayonga, Bitungwe, Mabuku, in 1968. The Maranatha church was organized in 1970.18

Establishment of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Beni Territory

In May 1964, Pastor Elisha Sihingirwa was sent to Beni to investigate where a plot could be found to build a house for the evangelist or the district pastor. The first district leaders in Beni were Samuel Kagheni, who arrived in 1969-1970, and Kambale Joshua who arrived in 1971.19 In 1978, the Beni Mission Station was formed from a portion of the Rwese Station, It was divided four districts: Beni, Malyo, Rwenzori, and Kyavisogho under the leadership of Syatoka Kule.20

Establishment of Districts

In March 1973, the Butembo District was split in two. The remaining territory of the Butembo District included the churches of Butembo, Buliki, Bitungwe, Mupo, Kinyambiro, Muhangi, Bunyegha, and Katanda. The Malyo District included the churches of Mabuku, Rupaya, Kasuku, Mbwarara, Bisiki, and Kighumo. The Lukanga District included the churches located in Lubero, Kabalya, Kasanga, Butobo, and Kighumo. Buyora District included churches in Musenda, Mihake, Butehi, Kisanzi, Kisinga, and Itunda.21

In 1980, the Masereka District was formed out of the Bukengye District including the churches of Kahuha, Mulema, Mahikwe, Iremera, Nyabili, and Kaleveryo under the leadership of Pastor Kambale Mukwarambya. The remaining territory of the Bukenye District included the Kakohwa, Kamole, Mutanga, Kisanzi, Ngumbe, Kaliro and Itunda churches. The Masiki District was similarly split into two with the Masiki District including the churches of Kanyatsi, Ngukwe, Buswagha, Itsiba, and Kyondo. The new Bubihya District was comprised of Bulambo, Kasimbi Kyavinyonge, and Museya.22

Further Development (1980-2000)

During the Thousand Days of Harvest (1982-1985) and Harvest 90 campaigns, lay members were encouraged to participate in evangelistic activities. They supported many evangelistic campaigns in big cities and villages. This period was a time of spiritual revival as church members devoted themselves to building many churches, schools, and workers' houses, such as those at Mutiri, Kamole, and Kasongwere.23

In 1981, the North Congo Field had five dispensaries located at Lubero, Rwese, Kayina, Kanyabayonga, and Beni. These institutions met both physical and spiritual needs. Seventh-day Adventist worship services were held every morning, and the local pastor or evangelist would visit patient rooms to pray for the sick.24

Conflicts between government-run schools that required classes on Saturday and Adventists’ belief in the sanctity of the Fourth Commandment, motivated church members, parents in particular, to establish and build schools in almost every district in the North Kivu Field. The first five primary schools were Rwese Primary School, Kaliro / Bukakanirwa Primary School, Butsundo Primary School, Ndughuto Primary School, and Wene-Lac / Busenyerwa Primary School. Most of these schools were opened in 1977. In April 1978, a secondary school opened in Rwese with two classes under the principal Katendewa Milonde. By that time, Kakule Mitimbo was overseeing Rwese Primary School and while advising other Adventist schools. As demand for Adventist schools grew, the North Kivu Field office helped to build a primary school in Beni, a primary school for Pygmies in Teule, and a secondary school in Butembo (Mutiri Seventh-day Adventist Institute) in 1987.25

In 1994, Griggs University opened a campus at Lukanga with more than forty students. The training lasted four years for a Bachelor’s degree. The theology department trained competent leaders, capable pastors, and school chaplains. In 1996, the university was accredited by the government as the Adventist University of Lukanga (UNILUK).26 As a result, almost all pastors in the North Kivu Field were trained at the university level. Workers in the medical, educational, and other fields also benefited from the training as additional departments were opened.

Educational Achievements of Employees in the North Kivu Field from 1993 to the Present:

                                                                             Years
Degree 1993 2000 2005 2010 2013 2018
Bachelor’s 12 46 49 54 48 40
Licence or MA   1   1   1   6 26 32
Doctor   0   0   0   0   127   0

The Adventist University in Lukanga has enabled the North Kivu Field to staff its institutions with professionally qualified personnel.

History of District Reorganization

In March 1981, the Luofu District was split into two. The new Butsiri District (Kayna) included churches located in Busenyerwa, Kirumba, Kikubo, and Lutorwe. The reorganized Luofu District retained the churches of Kanyabayonga, Kataro, Kanyabyuza, Luhanga, Bulindi, Bitcumbi, and Mabasu. The Beni District was also divided into three districts. The Oicha District included the churches from Oicha, Mbau, Pandole, Mukoko, and Kokola under the supervision of Nziabake Murungi. The Beni District was comprised the churches of Beni, Mavivi, Ngazi, and Kasevere. The Pasisi District included the churches in Bingo, Mangina, Pasisi, Makiki, Ngumo, Irango, and Mununze supervised by Kasereka Kombi.28

In January 1982, the district of Luofu was divided yet again. The reduced Luofu District included the churches in Bulindi, Kanyabayonga, Bitsumbi, and Bitongi. The Miriki District was comprised of the churches of Kataro, Kanyabyunza, Luhanga, Matenge, and Mabasu.29 In 1986, the Bukenye District was split into the Bukenye District, with 709 members, and the Kasongwere District, with 374 members. The Butembo District was split into the Butembo District, with 1,234 members, and the Bwinongo District, 331 members. The Musienene District was divided into the Musienene District, with 400 members, and the Busamba District, with 275 members.30

Creation of New Mission Stations

In January 1986, during the quinquennial session, the system of districts was replaced with four mission stations: The Butembo Station, directed by Nzyabake Murungi; the Beni Station, directed by Syatoka Kule; the Kayna Station, directed by Mumbere Kirima; and the Lubero Station, directed by Nzingene Kasai.31 In 1997, Butembo Station was split into the Butembo Station comprising the churches in Butembo, Butuhe, Bwinongo, Isale, Kimemi, and Manguredjipa, and the Musienene Station, which included Busamba, Buyora, Lubero, Musienene, and Ngulo.32 In 2000, Beni Station was reorganized in the Mangina Station, with Kagheni Nzalita as director, and the Beni Station.33 In 1995, the name of the North Zaire Field was changed to the North Kivu Field.34

In 2006, the Musienene Station was divided into the Musienene the churches in Katolo, Musienene, Busamba, Buyinga, and Lubero, and the Rwese Station with Buyora, Ngulo, Lukanga, and Masiki churches. In the same year, the name of the Lubero Station was changed to the Masereka Station.35 In April 2009, Butembo Station was split into the Butembo Station, including Bwinongo, Mususa, Matanda, Butuhe, Bulamba and Manguredjipa, and the Kimemi Station comprised of Rughenda, Malera, Mutiri, Malyo, and Isale et Biasa. In May of the same year, the Beni Station was divided into the Oicha Station covering Komanda, Eringeti, Oicha, Musuku, and Baniangala, with Kathembo Kikhenza, station manager, and the Beni Station comprised of Beni, Kanzuli, Twabi, Lume, Kasindi, and Mavivi with Tsongo Mutaliri, station director.36

In 2013, Beni Station was divided into the Rwenzori Station, including Kasindi, Lume, and Rwenzori, and the Beni Station comprised of Beu, Beni, Kanzuli, and Bungulu. The Butembo-South Station was established in the town of Butembo, comprised of Ngule, Bwinongo, and Rughenda. At the time of writing, the North Kivu Field includes eleven stations with two zones (Kipese and Manguredjipa).

Radio Evangelism

In 1996, local churches decided to fund broadcast programs on public radio, notably in Butembo and Beni. In 2002, the Rwese radio station was established. Despite this, after 2005, churches continued to grow as a result of the broadcasts by local public radios, e.g. Luveve, Kipese, Kitsombiro, Radio Soleil in Butembo, RTNC in Butembo, Beni, Muhangi, Kyondo, Kirumba, Kayna, Katolo, Luviriha, and others.37 At the time of writing, the Rwese radio station broadcasts twenty-four hours a day.

Situation Summary of the North Kivu Field

Over the more than seventy years since the Adventist Church entered Beni and Lubero, the number of churches has grown to 320 in addition to 198 companies. By June 2019, the number of members had grown to 57,279, shepherded by seventy-eight pastors. The following statistics are for year 2019.38

Station Churches Companies Members Schools Health
Institutions
Chaplains Ordained
Pastors
Non Ordained
Pastors
Beni  25  11  6,395  26  1  5  3   2
Butembo  22  19  4,235  11    1  2  3
Butembo-Sud  15    5  6,508  10  1  2  3  2
Kayna  21  17  3,610  23  4  4  3  1
Kimemi  26  11  6,645  19  2  5  4   2
Kipese  24  14  3,303  23    4  2  1
Mangina  28  16  3,438  25  4  5  3  2
Manguredjipa  13  10  1,631  21  4  5  2  1
Masereka  28    4  3,992  19  3  3  2  1
Musienene  29  33  5,088  26  5  6  5  
Oicha  28  22  3,650  24  1  2  4  2
Rwenzori  24  19  3,220  18  1  7  3  1
Rwese  37  17  5,564  32  3  6  4  1
Office North Kivu Field              6 12
Total  320  198  57,279  277  29  53  46 32

North Kivu Field Office Relocation

On July 23, 2007, the North Kivu Association executive committee decided to move the headquarters from Rwese to Kyaghala near Butembo. The move provided many advantages. Butembo was already a center for the field, which included the Butembo Seventh-day Adventist School coordination office, health facilities, publishing house, and communication, banking, and legal services. Closer proximity reduced transportation and delivery expenses, and better accommodated guests as well. Yang also offered to purchase the needed land in Butembo.39 After reducing the field’s debt burden, the executive committee, supported by church members, broke ground for a new office building in 2013.40

Accomplishments in the Midst of Challenges

The work of the Adventist Church in the North Kivu Field has been hindered by heretical teachers, and been set back during a succession of civil wars in Lubero and Beni. In spite of these challenges, church members have persevered in unity, working with their pastors to plan successful evangelistic outreach. Projects have ranged from the translation of books, the Bible, and church hymnals into local languages, to the Voice of Hope Bible correspondence lessons, collaboration with field officers and volunteer missionaries, and radio broadcasts. Members have also been faithful in financially supported the projects of the field. The Adventist educational institutions in the North Kivu Field played an important role in church growth, training church members, from primary school through university, for service to the church and their communities. The North Kivu Field has also been favored with positive relationships with local political authorities.

Leaders of the North Kivu Field Since 1956

P. F. Lemon (1956-1957), T. W. Staples (1958-1963), Werner (1964), Matingli (1965-1966), Sofronach (1967), Goodwen (1968), Max J. Church (1969), Ruterahagusha (1970-1972), Paul Mwema (1973-1978), Kambere Lyasweka (1979-1984), Baluku Mbugha (1985-1990), Kamate Kyambale (1991-2010), Baluku Kisunzu (2001-2010), Kasereka Muthavaly (2011-2015), Kaletu Bayland (2016-May 2017), Kahindo Kyusa (August 2017-).

Sources

Ellstrom, Baluku. Training Report Carried Out at the Office of the Secretary General of the NKF in Rwese. Lukanga, Democratic Republick of the Congo: UNILUK, 2011-2012.

Mbwete, Kahindo Muhavirwa. “The Process of the Association of North Kivu in the Democratic Republic of Congo to become a Federation.” Master’s thesis, Adventist University of Africa, August 2009.

North Kivu Field, Annual Committee Reports, 1964-2013. North Kivu Field archives, Butembo, Nord-Kivu, Democratic Republic of the Congo.

North Kivu FieldMinutes, 1964-2013. North Kivu Field archives, Butembo, Nord-Kivu, Democratic Republic of the Congo.

North Kivu Field Secretariat, June 2019 Statistics. North Kivu Field archives, Butembo, Nord-Kivu, Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Paul, Kakule Mitimbo. History of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Africa and the Congo. Lukanga, Democratic Republic of the Congo: UNILUK, 2014.

Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook. Hagerstown, MD: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1983-2014.

Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook. Nampa, ID: Pacific Press Publishing Association, 2015-2018.

Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook. Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1956-1982.

Notes

  1. “North Congo Field,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Washington, DC: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1961), 174.

  2. “North Zaire Field,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Washington, DC: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1972), 268.

  3. “North Kivu Association,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Hagerstown, MD: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1996), 41; “North Kivu Field,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Nampa, ID: Pacific Press Publishing Association, 2018), 54.

  4. Civil Status Archives of the Lubero Territory, City of Butembo, City of Beni, and Territory of Beni in Oicha, 2014.

  5. “North Kivu Field,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Nampa, ID: Pacific Press Publishing Association, 2018), 54.

  6. Kakule Mitimbo Paul, History of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Africa and the Congo (Lukanga, Democratic Republic of the Congo: UNILUK, 2014), 56.

  7. Ibid.

  8. Kamabu Bakwahobaya Ibrahim, retired pastor and one of the first baptized members in North Kivu, interview by author, May 6, 2014.

  9. Kakule Mitimbo Paul, History of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Africa and the Congo (Lukanga, Democratic Republic of the Congo: UNILUK, 2014), 59.

  10. “North Kivu Association,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Hagerstown, MD: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 2013), 69.

  11. North Congo Field Annual Committee Report, 1964.

  12. Ibid.

  13. Ibid.

  14. “North Congo Field," Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Washington, DC: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1964), 249.

  15. North Congo Field Annual Committee Report, 1964.

  16. Ibid.

  17. North Congo Field Annual Committee Report, 1966.

  18. North Congo Field Annual Committee Reports, 1967 and 1970.

  19. North Congo Field Committee Report, 1964, 1970 and 1971.

  20. North Congo Field Committee Report, 1978.

  21. North Congo Field Committee Report, 1973.

  22. Ibid.

  23. Kakule Kisatiro, interview by author, May 23, 2014, Butembo, Democratic Republic of the Congo.

  24. 1981.

  25. North Congo Field Committee Report, 1981, 1987, and 1990.

  26. Archives, Adventist University of Lukanga.

  27. Archive of the General Secretariat, North Kivu Field, 2019.

  28. North Zaire Field Committee Report, 1981.

  29. North Zaire Field Committee Report, 1982.

  30. North Zaire Field Committee Report, 1986.

  31. North Zaire Field, Report of the Quinquennial Session, 1986.

  32. North Kivu Association Committee Report, 1997.

  33. North Kivu Association Committee Report, 2000.

  34. “North Kivu Association,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Hagerstown, MD: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1996), 41.

  35. North Kivu Association Committee Report, 2006.

  36. North Kivu Association Committee Report, 2009.

  37. North Kivu Association, Communication Report, 2012.

  38. North Kivu Field Secretariat, June 2019 Statistics.

  39. North Kivu Association Committee Report, 2007, 146.

  40. North Kivu Association Committee Report, 2013.

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Kyusa, Muhindo. "North Kivu Field." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. April 03, 2021. Accessed June 17, 2024. https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=AFG5.

Kyusa, Muhindo. "North Kivu Field." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. April 03, 2021. Date of access June 17, 2024, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=AFG5.

Kyusa, Muhindo (2021, April 03). North Kivu Field. Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. Retrieved June 17, 2024, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=AFG5.