INDIANAPOLIS – Friendly Planet Missiology missionary, the Rev. Bob Walters, biked by the Indiana Conference Center on Thursday morning, Sept. 15, accompanied by the Rev. Ruth Waite of Greensboro, Ind., bringing the needs of the North Katanga Conference to light. Both rode that morning north from Lockerbie Central UMC in downtown Indianapolis on the Monon Trail. Walters said he was just shy of 600 miles on his statewide 1,000 mile bike trek. He began on Sept. 1 in southern Indiana and will conclude on Sept. 30 in northern Indiana. So far he has visited more than 25 United Methodist congregations.
First he said he was grieved to report that the church just lost a great leader in the North Katanga Conference. Dr. Mireille, head of our UM nursing school in Kamina, North Katanga Province, Democratic Republic of the Congo, who died in childbirth this week.
“This isn’t uncommon in central Africa,” he said. He went on to report that “we (United Methodists) have a lot of pastors, doctors, nurses, school teachers in the remote districts of North Katanga that are exhausted and running out of the few resources they have.” This is the reason Walters is traveling the state by bike, the primary means of transportation by pastors in rural Africa. He seeks support to assist United Methodist pastors in purchasing bikes and now boats to continue to reach out into rural areas. He had hoped that Pastor Joseph Mulongo Ndala would have joined him by now, but the pastor is detained in the DRC.
As soon as he obtains his passport, we will be on his way to Indiana and will join Walters through October. Mulongo and Walters rode 1,000 kilometers (600 miles) earlier this year visiting remote villages in eastern Congo. “We were interested in learning two things: the state of the church and community in districts that were overrun in the war, and the state of mission stations that had been run by resident missionaries before the war,” Walters said.
The Rev. Bob Walters of Friendly Planet Missiology was joined on his 1,000 mile bike trip across the state by the Rev. Ruth Waite of Greensboro, Ind., They stand in front of the building containing the Indiana Conference Center in Indianapolis.