FPU builds connections with Congo

Recent meetings established a new level of cooperation between Fresno Pacific University and a university in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Professor Kidinda, president of Universite Chretienne de Kinshasa (Christian University of Kinshasa—UCKIN) and Professor M'buyamba, head of the university medical school, visited FPU the week of October 23. The meetings ended with an agreement "that shows the encouragement of the institutions to work together," Kidinda said.

This encouragement will reach far beyond the campus of UCKIN to a country still wasted by war, Kidinda said. "To have people like us come here and build relationships gives hope for improvement. This will have an impact on people holding their faith—we don't have reserves, we live by faith."

The schools will work together to promote student and faculty exchanges, cooperative or joint programs and research projects, and consulting in areas such as Anabaptism, peace studies and conflict transformation and the integration of faith and learning. FPU will also coordinate the efforts between UCKIN and other agencies such as Bethel (Kan.) College, Eastern Mennonite University, Goshen College, Hesston College, Mennonite Brethren Missions and Services (MBMS) and African Inter-Mennonite Missions (AIMM).

UCKIN and FPU share similar commitments and vision, said Howard Loewen, FPU provost. "The presence of Drs. Kidinda and M'buyamba increased significantly our awareness of UCKIN's compelling educational mission, and how our two institutions can support each other in practical ways."

FPU's strong international background aids in cooperation, Kidinda added. "Most of your faculty have experience abroad, which is very unique. Not many U.S. schools have this."

Begun by Mennonite and Baptist groups as a Bible school in Kinshasa, the capital and largest city in Congo, UCKIN now has almost 600 students studying theology, economics and business administration. The university includes a seminary and a medical school is set to graduate its first class in 2004.

The working relationship between UCKIN and FPU began about two years ago and came out of the Mennonite Brethren Church's long-standing mission in Congo, according to Kidinda. Representatives from FPU spent time at UCKIN in June 1999. The most recent visit was organized by FPU, Mennonite Brethren Biblical Seminary and MBMS.

Fresno Pacific University is an accredited Christian university. Located on a 42-acre, park-like campus in southeast Fresno, FPU has an enrollment of more than 1,700 students -- half graduate and half undergraduate. The university also enrolls 12,000 students annually in its professional development studies programs offered locally and throughout the world.


Wayne Steffen
Associate Director of Publications and Media Relations