Dec. 16, 2004
A UMNS photo by Billy Reeder
The Arkansas Tech Wesley Foundation praise band leads worship during a service to support a foundation in the Congo.
A UMNS Report
By Kathy L. Gilbert*
A campus ministry is inspiring college students in Arkansas to build a Wesley Foundation in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
seemed like almost an impossible dream; I didn’t think we could raise
even $3,000, but to have raised $15,000, it is so obvious to me that it
is God’s will,” says Taylor Duncan, a junior at Arkansas Tech
University in Russellville.
says the students at Arkansas Tech realize how much their Wesley
Foundation has meant to them, and they want a way to "inspire Christians
in Kamina (Congo)." The Wesley Foundation will be on the campus of the
University of North Katanga, a United Methodist-related school in
The influence of the Wesley Foundation on students’ lives has sparked and fueled the whole campaign.
Reeder, a graduate of Arkansas Tech University and now the United
Methodist Arkansas Annual (regional) Conference communications director,
proposed the idea to the foundation’s director after spending a month
in Africa working on a documentary on the church’s work in Congo.
was transformed by his experience in Africa. “There is so much joy in
the midst of hopelessness,” he says. “I am a product of the Arkansas
Tech Wesley Foundation. I know what kind of leaders are coming out of
that foundation, and I know Kamina needs leaders.” He told the Rev.
David Scroggin, “you need to build a Wesley Foundation in Kamina.”
A UMNS photo courtesy of Billy Reeder
Reeder (far right) accompanies a medical mission team to the village of
Kamina in the Democratic Republic of Congo in May 2003.
was a little taken aback by the idea. “I said to him, ‘I need to build a
Wesley Foundation in Kamina?’ “Billy said, ‘You need to build a Wesley
Foundation in the Congo — not the United Methodist Church in Arkansas,
this Wesley Foundation.’”
got convicted,” Scroggin says. He was astounded to learn that building a
chapel the same size as the one at Arkansas Tech would cost only
staff at the Wesley Foundation became excited and convicted too,
especially two young men – Bobby Jackson and Greg Pair. The two planned
to go to the Congo and help with the construction after enough money was
raised to build the foundation.
was ready to go to the Congo right then,” Scroggin says. Unfortunately,
on his way to the foundation one day in August, Jackson was killed in a
death “broke our hearts,” Scroggin says. “We just wanted to quit. I
wanted to quit the ministry; it was just terrible.”
and his wife went to the funeral home to be with Jackson’s family, and
while making arrangements, it occurred to Scroggin to suggest a memorial
in Bobby’s name to build the chapel in the Congo.
parents thought that was a wonderful idea,” he says. By the day after
the funeral, they had already raised $3,000. A praise band concert
raised another $4,000, and the rest has come from students giving $1, $5
— or as one note on an envelope of money said, “this is all I have.”
says 98 percent of his students work anywhere from 10 to 30 hours
somewhere in the city or on campus. “They are taking their small
paychecks, and they are tithing.” On top of their tithes, they are
supporting the Bobby Jackson Memorial Wesley Foundation being built in
student support has been “amazing” and is a direct result of the life
Jackson led, says his friend, Pair. “He was a blessing to each person he
had such a heart for ministry and mission,” Duncan says. “He was a
shining star.” Mission programs like the one in Kamina were “what he was
all about,” he adds.
loved the Congo project,” Pair says. “We were planning to go there this
summer. He really loved the idea of mission, and was very excited about
the possibility of going to Kamina and meeting those people and
building a relationship with them.”
Students from all denominations on campus have contributed to the fund in Jackson’s name.
was completely a grass-root effort,” Scroggin says. “We haven’t asked
any churches, conference or district offices to help. It has come from
the students, and I couldn’t be prouder of them.”
agrees the students have put their hearts into this project. “When you
see a note that says ‘this is all I have,’ you know it is true,” he
says. “These students are not getting a tax write-off; they are skipping
lunches to give this money.”
foundation increased its goal from an initial $3,000 to $10,000, and it
has exceeded both of those amounts by raising $15,000. It also has
committed to paying the salary of a minister-professor at the college in
the beginning, I told Billy I didn’t want to just build a building and
have no one in there doing ministry,” Scroggin says. Bishop Nkulu Ntanda
Ntambo, of the denomination’s North Katanga Area, said he would appoint
someone to the chapel if the Arkansas Tech University Wesley Foundation
would pay the salary.
A UMNS photo by Billy Reeder
Bishop Nkulu Ntanda Ntambo greets students during a covenant service to support a Wesley Foundation in the Congo.
Scroggin was amazed at how little money was needed. The salary for the
position is $100 a month. “I said if I can’t raise $1,200 a year, I will
just get out of the ministry,” Scroggins says. The students held a
covenant ceremony Nov. 14, and Bishop Ntambo attended.
been all over the United States and all over the world, but I have
never seen people as excited about the ministry and as excited about
Jesus as I saw tonight,” Ntambo told the students. “If these are the
leaders of tomorrow, then the church and the world are in good hands.”
in January, the Arkansas Tech University Wesley Foundation will have a
special offering once a month for the foundation in Kamina. The
foundation is also raising funds to build a well and will send any extra
money it collects to the university to be used for supplies.
black as that night was when they called me about Bobby, the sun is now
shining,” Scroggin says. “At that time, I could not see any good that
could come out of something like this, but it has united people, has
united students, united this campus for a common purpose. Young adults
from all denominations are really taking the commandment that Christ
gave, ‘to go and teach and preach in all nations.’ It is a spirit I
can’t really describe.”
*Gilbert is a United Methodist News Service news writer in Nashville, Tenn.
News media contact: Kathy L. Gilbert, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or firstname.lastname@example.org.