Norwich churches pay for life-saving operation
By Keith Morris
2010: Transforming Norwich
has helped to pay for a life-saving operation for a church pastor in a Tanzanian
refugee camp, who is closely associated with the Swahili-speaking Rivers of Life Church
which meets in Norwich.
Rivers of Life started meeting in November 2009 in St Augustine’s church hall in Norwich and the now 100-strong church meets most Sundays at City Gates Centre in Cowgate from 2-5pm.
The church is made up mainly of displaced people from the Democratic Republic of Congo who for many years lived in refugee camps around Africa in Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia and Malawi.
It is led by pastor Didier Ngolo and assistant Scholastica Mokake, a social worker with the Gateway Protection Project. The church is a member of Transforming Norwich and appealed to its AGM for £500 for the life-saving operation for Pastor Stan, a close associate of the Norwich church.
Scholastica explained: “Didier and Pastor Stan left Congo and were living in a refugee camp in Tanzania. They started a Swahili-speaking Rivers of Life church in the camp. Didier and others in our congregation then came to England. We regard the church in Tanzania as our baby.
“Stan returned to Congo and planted three churches and when he returned he developed appendicitis and had an emergency operation. He then needed a second life-saving operation but had no means of paying for it.”
The Norwich church was desperate to help, but out of the 100-strong congregation, Scholastica is the only one who is in employment, mainly because of language issues. She is working through the Gateway programme to help the other members learn English, including through interpreting the services into English, in the hope that this will help them get jobs.
“No-one else is employed, they are all looking for jobs as care workers or cleaners,” said Scholastica. “Some are university graduates, but language is still a barrier at the moment.”
Former Transforming Norwich chairman, Rev Nicholas Vesey, proposed making a £500 donation at the organisation’s AGM and the call was unamimously approved.
Nicholas said: “Rivers of Life is a member of Transforming Norwich which stands for unity of purpose and working together. When one of our members has a problem we all want to come together and help that member.
“There was nobody else to help Stan and when Didier came to me it seemed the right thing to do to step in and help.”
Pictured above are Didier Ngolo and Scholastica Mokake from Rivers of Life church in Norwich.