Moved by the Spirit: A Journey of Many Tongues and Many Nations
by Allie Naskret
Kabanga Bomasi’s life journey has taken him literally around the globe—from helping a Mennonite church aid refugees in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (his native country), to mission work in Israel, to seeking refuge from his country’s violence in both Kenya and Thailand, to studying business administration in Albany, New York, and finally to New Jersey to follow a call to ministry at Princeton Seminary. Bomasi (Class of 2014) believes that wherever he has been, God has given him opportunities to serve. “When you have the spirit of God, everywhere you go, God is with you,” he says.
Bomasi grew up in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, now the second largest country in Africa (since the split of Sudan in early 2011), with a population of approximately 70 million people. While there are hundreds of different ethnic groups in the DR Congo, and several hundred local languages and dialects are spoken, diversity is bridged by the widespread use of French (introduced by the Belgians), as well as four national Congolese languages: Kongo, Tshiluba, Swahili, and Lingala. Bomasi speaks French and all four native Congolese languages, as well as English, modern Hebrew, and Thai.
Bomasi was raised in Bandundu, in southwest DR Congo, where his parents still live. His father worked as a superintendent of schools, while his mother cared for the family. Since Bomasi’s family was Catholic, he attended a Catholic school as a boy. After graduating from high school in 1993, he made a decision to accept Jesus Christ as his Lord—for him this was the beginning of his faith journey. One of Bomasi’s friends had invited him to the Full Gospel Businessmen’s Fellowship International, an interdenominational Christian fellowship. During the meeting, many young people were sharing their faith testimonies. Bomasi says he “saw [his own] life in their testimonies” and accepted God’s call. After this, his life changed dramatically, as he joined a church and became heavily involved in evangelism. In 1998, he relocated to Bukavu, a town in the eastern province of South-Kivu, along the country’s border with Rwanda.
At that time, the situation in the DR Congo was becoming more violent and unstable. During the authoritarian regime of Mobutu, there had been much corruption and political repression. By 1996, with the flood of refugees pouring into eastern DR Congo as a result of the Rwandan genocide, tensions in the DR Congo were growing. Opponents of Mobutu forced him to flee the country in 1997, instituting a new president who would later be assassinated by rebel forces in 2001.
The violence during this time constituted the deadliest conflict worldwide since WWII, and the largest war in modern African history, involving military groups from eight different African nations. By 2008, the war and its aftermath had killed more than five million people, many from disease and starvation. Despite the signing of peace accords and the establishment of a transitional government in 2003, the eastern part of the country remains unstable. Violence continues to this day, largely fueled by a drive for conflict minerals – minerals such as gold and coltan (used in the manufacturing of computers, MP3 players, and mobile phones) that are mined in conditions of armed conflict and human rights abuses.
After moving to eastern DR Congo in 1998, Bomasi became involved with a church of the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC), a relief, service, and peace agency. The church helped aid refugees in eastern Congo by delivering food and other necessities to the refugee camps. Bomasi became a leader in the church community, and he says the church’s work involved “restoring the people’s hope through Christ.”
In 2002, Bomasi participated in a two-week mission trip to Israel with his pastor, through the Jerusalem House of Prayer. Afterward, he was able to stay in Tel Aviv with a visa, working with a Congolese pastor there. He remained in Israel until 2003, helping to start a French-speaking church in Tel Aviv. When he returned to the DR Congo, the region was becoming more dangerous. During that time, Bomasi lost many people in his life due to the violence. He soon fled to Kenya, where he remained for a short time, before relocating to Thailand with the help of UN refugee services.
Bomasi lived in Thailand for two years and helped start a church in Bangkok with Daniel Stein, a missionary there. Stein helped sponsor Bomasi, who eventually went to live with Stein’s family in Queensbury, New York, in 2005.
Bomasi later began studying business administration at the State University of New York (SUNY) at Albany. He explains that “business covers all aspects of life,” from the household to the church, which is “God’s business.” According to Bomasi, many of the problems and struggles in the DR Congo have to do with mismanagement and the abuse of resources and power. By studying business administration, he hoped to gain valuable skills that he could use to serve God and help the people in his country.
In Albany, Bomasi met a few Congolese friends, and eventually helped start a bilingual church called the Grace of God, where he served as an elder, substitute pastor, and director of Bible studies. Bomasi says that everywhere he traveled, God offered him an opportunity for mission work.
After graduating from SUNY, Bomasi spent a long time praying and reflecting on his experiences. At that time, his wife (whom he had met in a bank in downtown Albany) confronted him and told him that she felt he was called to work in the church. For Bomasi, this was a confirmation of his call. He began to consider applying to seminary, and after attending the L.I.V.E. Symposium at PTS in the spring of 2010, he felt a deep conviction that Princeton was where he was meant to be.
At PTS, Bomasi hopes to “get all the luggage he needs” for the journey, so that he can continue serving God, wherever he might be. He has a vision of returning to the DR Congo to start a school to train disciples of God. He believes that the DR Congo needs spiritual people to help transform the situation of violence, and he feels called to help his people. Wherever he lands, he knows that the spirit of God will be with him.