“Do you know Mama Riziki?” It was a question asked by a someone who met her while living in a Congolese refugee camp. You see, when Riziki Lubula came to the United States she remembered her friend, Solomon Kasongo King, and prayed that one day she would be able to connect with him again and serve in music ministry together.
Lubula received the 2016 Harry Denman Evangelism Award on June 4. Lubula was born in the Congo. After her marriage, her father encouraged her husband and her to leave due to the outbreak of a brutal civil war. The couple moved to a refugee camp where their six children were born. While there, the young family learned that Lubula’s father had been killed.
In 2013 the family found their way to the United States, settled in northeastern Kansas City and became connected with Central United Methodist Church. As Rev. Jim Simpson, District Superintendent of the Heartland District, presented the award, he described Lubula as a “born evangelist.” He credited her for reaching out to the refugee community near Central UMC and inviting them to come to church. She was also instrumental in bringing Rev. Fataki Mutambala to Kansas City and joining him in launching Kuomba Pamoja, a new church start that serves the African community in Kansas City.
Pastor Fataki was serving in another Missouri community, but, as Simpson explained, she, not the Bishop, decided that he needed to come to Kansas City. She later helped the pastor find a house and “the Bishop and Cabinet agreed to endorse the new appointment and church start.” The Congolese community has grown to over 150 people and six new families are currently making their way toward Kansas City. Simpson also indicated that partners are needed to help the newest families complete the transition.
While the church was being established, Solomon was also moving to Kansas City and began to ask the question in as many places as possible until finally, he was able to reconnect with his friend and gifted choir director, Lubula. They have again begun to lead music and worship in their church and other places. The church choir offered an outstanding gift of music on Saturday afternoon during the retirement worship service.
Beyond her work in connecting the church and her community Lubula is known as someone with a deep prayer life. Her community continually witnesses her passion for prayer and fasting. She also encouraged her church to undertake a study of the Old Testament Book of Malachi because of its teachings on tithing. It was noted that the entire Kuomba church community now practices tithing (giving 10% of household income).
Rev. Matt Miofsky, founding pastor of The Gathering in St. Louis was named as the clergy recipient of this award. The presentation was brief. As Reverend Bob Farr, Director of Clergy Excellence introduced Miofsky, he indicated the Miofsky did not want a long description of his ministry. Instead, he remarked, “Matt said I wish you would say that we have brought young people to Christ and give a ‘shout out’ to our campus pastors. They do all the work.”
The Gathering averages about 1,300 people in worship every weekend. It is a multi-site church and recently began offering an online worship experience. The church will celebrate its 11th anniversary in September of this year.
The Harry Denman Award is given annually to a clergy and lay recipient in every Annual Conference in the United States. It recognizes exceptional evangelism in local churches.