From the Congo to Fayetteville

"Immaculee, this is my own doctor," he said, referring to God. "If you believe in this doctor, he would never ask you for money, only you have to believe."

"Yes, I believe," she answered.

The pastor continued to pray for Kyondwa consistently, and after one month, "I got better," she said.

She converted from Catholicism to Methodist in 1997.

In 1998, Kyondwa and her family were sent from Tabora to another refugee camp in Kigoma that housed 15,000 refugees from Congo.

As time passed, Kyondwa's faith deepened. She realized God is working for and talking to people, she said. Her faith allowed her to ask God for more help.

"I say, 'God, I know you now,'" she said. "'And you can take me from this place to another better place."

Welcome to America

In 2000, God answered Kyondwa's prayers when she found out she could go to the US, she said. Her family's name was first on the waiting list.

"Oh God, I didn't know you were sweet like that," she remembered saying. "You can pray if you believe in God, he can do something for you."

In 2004, the journey began and after multiple layovers, they landed in Syracuse. Parishioners from the Bellevue Methodist Church in Syracuse greeted them at the airport. They lived for a year in the city with the help of the Interreligious Council before moving to the Fayetteville's Jubilee House in 2006.

Jubilee House

In February 1999, the United Church of Fayetteville purchased a private, historic structure located next to the church. It was acquired to serve as a local mission and provide a home for people in need of affordable housing, especially in the refugee community.

Since 2000, the Jubilee House has been home to refugees from Cuba, Russia, Zambia and now the Congo.

Kyondwa and her husband Joseph Mpinga work in Syracuse. Their children range in age from 9 to 23. The school-aged kids are enrolled in the Fayetteville-Manlius School District.

For more information on the Jubilee House or to make a contribution, contact the church at 637-3186.

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