My First Missionary Act in Africa


by: Fr. Arnold Biago,SVD

Fr. Arnold Biago, SVD

Fr. Arnold Biago, SVD

Two days after I transferred to my place of assignment here in Kinshasa, the Capital of Democratic Republic of Congo I find myself amidst a group of mixed nationalities participating in a 40-day intensive Summer Bible Course named Verbum Die here in Centre Liloba (meaning “Word of God”). To introduced myself  I said, “My name is Arnold Biago, SVD; I came from the Philippines; I have just finished my French language course last Friday in the 15th Street (also in Kinshasa) and will be learning Lingala (one of Congo’s national languages spoken Kinshasa and other provinces) right after this Bible course!” All other participants instantly flashed their wide smile and shared encouraging words knowing the complexity of learning another language: Courage mon Pere! (Literally, “have the courage Father!” Could also be said to mean, “Goodluck!”).  True enough, this Monday, September 7 I will begin learning Lingala.

This is so far what I have achieved after almost a year since I arrived here in Congo. My story is not new, all foreign missionaries have undergone the same process of preparation and orientation to the culture, traditions and practices of the host country before they can do their share of mission. I have no regrets having to submit myself to this tedious process of relearning almost everything in the context of my work. I remember a question posed to me by the Provincial Superior about how do I find the course, Verbum Die: “Is it not a waste of time sitting down for 40 days?” By instinct I replied: “Never!” This is also how I see this one and a half year I will be spending sitting down, observing, listening and learning not only the language and culture but almost everything about life and faith of the people and the Church of Congo.





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