ROCKFORD, IL (September 9, 2010) – Congolese refugee Martha Kingambo says she is thrilled with the new Habitat for Humanity home built by First Covenant Church and Broadway Covenant Church, where she has attended for the past five years.
“It feels like home, and the kids are very happy,” says Kingambo, who moved into the house a month ago with her four daughters. “I enjoy it every day.”
Kingambo fled the Democratic Republic of Congo amid civil war. Her husband, who worked for the government, was murdered and she was warned the same fate awaited her and her children.
Kingambo was never able to see her husband’s body, and she left immediately for the refugee camp in Cameroon. She lived in a tent there for a year.
A United States government program enabled her to travel to the United State. She moved to the Chicago area and lived in a tiny apartment with her children.
Former Covenant missionaries to Congo, Carl and Vivian Edstrom, met Kingambo through World Relief International, which was sponsoring her, and a friendship began that continues. “They are like my family,” Kingambo says.
Winnetka Covenant Church, located in the Chicago suburb of Wilmette, helped Kingambo transition to her new life in the United States. She attended the church for the next five years before moving to Rockford.
Kingambo had never heard of the Congo Covenant Church while living in the African nation, but she has experienced the power of connections among Evangelical Covenant churches in the United States. She was introduced to Broadway Covenant when she moved to Rockford five years ago and started working in a local factory.
While at Broadway, Al Damrose, a retired Covenant pastor, and his wife, “Gladys” have “adopted” Kingambo. He was the project director for her new home (see accompanying photo).
First Covenant and Broadway had worked on Habitat projects in the past. When the organization asked the churches to nominate a potential home recipient, Broadway urged Kingambo to apply. There was almost no room in her apartment for Kingambo’s entire family, says Eric Filkin, Broadway’s senior pastor.
Constructing the home for one of their members made the work “even more special,” says Filkin.
“I feel love for those people, for all the volunteers,” Kingambo says. “That is a big experience for me to see how God worked through all those people.”