Praying in the Vision

A vibrant French-speaking congregation takes root in Central Pennsylvania

by Elder Fernande Mbenza-Ngoma 

The Prophet Elijah illustrates our church’s story with the revelation of the prophecy that rain was about to come after 2½ years of drought (1 Kings 18:1). A seed of the church was planted in 1999, but only 20 years later did faith materialize so that many can testify that the Lord had a plan. During that year, several people got to know each other, and shared their desire to pray together. There was agreement to gather weekly for praise and worship in ways that were common and familiar from African heritage. We were eager to begin again the Christian practices of all-night vigils, fasting, and prayer here in the USA.

Soon after these gatherings started in 1999, the participants began meeting other believers who wanted to join the group, then called “cell group.” Soon, more and more believers were coming. The fire of the Holy Spirit was attracting many to the prayer meetings during the week because everyone in the group was also part of various local churches in the community. The people diligently sought the Lord, and their thirst for God’s presence was real. The desire for God to reveal Himself and to change people’s lives gave the group vision for expansion. The weekly gatherings changed to twice a week, and then began to rotate around to different people’s homes. Words of encouragement, fellowship, and the feeling of belonging to a nuclear family in a foreign land were very real. Eventually, the group agreed to hold prayer meetings in one designated location.

Pastor Jean-Bruno Nzey. Photos provided by the author.

Pastor Jean-Bruno Nzey arrived from Africa in 2002. He joined the prayer group. As we continued to seek the Lord’s guidance, various members of the group received distinctive revelations that the “cell group” would grow into a congregation under the leadership of Pastor Jean-Bruno Nzey. It was a confirmation of God’s new direction because Pastor Nzey himself had already received a similar revelation while still in Africa about being the pastor of a church in the USA. Rapid and amazing attendance was experienced. Consequently, a larger space for the weekly meetings was needed. At the end of 2002, the group began to meet at the Bethel AME Church on Strawberry Street in Lancaster, PA. 

This was an amazing time of worshipping freely without the worry of disturbing next door neighbors. A year later, the congregation moved out of the Strawberry Street location to Trinity Lutheran Church on Duke Street, Lancaster. At that point, it was decided to hold Sunday services in the afternoon. The next move was to a business location for eight months on Delp Road in Neffsville, PA. Then, a fourth move to Rainbow Youth Center in Mount-Joy took place. We were there for four years. In November 2015, the Lord blessed and enabled us to receive a mortgage to purchase our current building on School House Road in Middletown, PA. Through all the moves, we learned to trust the author and finisher of our faith who gave the vision. The church now serves members from York, Harrisburg, Elizabethtown, Mount-Joy, Mountville, and Lancaster.

Women’s ministry group at Evangelical church for Revival.

When the ministry was officially founded in 2004 and obtained the state license to conduct business as a church, the services were mostly attended by French-speaking members. Thus, the congregation was named “Eglise Francophone pour le Réveil” or the “French-Speaking Church for Revival” under the leadership of Pastor Nzey. Eventually, we added English translation as English speaking members began to join in, not to mention the number of children born to church members that speak English well.

Evangelist Louis Kabamba

As the vision continues to unfold, the ministry continues to gain strength. Lives are being transformed, people are more committed to put their gifts and talents to use, and two more congregations have started. As a result, the name of the church was changed to “Evangelical Center for Revival” (ECR) to better describe the vision. The Scripture that anchors the vision is Jeremiah 1:9-10 with the objective of stirring up and bringing revival among worshippers in Lancaster County and its surroundings. The church vision is to reach out to the nations, including America.

Our congregation is made up of people from many different nations: Angola, Cameroon, Chad, Central African Republic, Congo-Brazzaville, Democratic Republic of Congo, Haiti, Ivory Coast, and the USA. During our gatherings, sermons are preached and translated in French or English depending on the language of the speaker of the day. We worship as one nation under one God, the Creator of all peoples, nations, and tribes. We praise and worship in different languages, incorporate traditional dances, and use indigenous instruments. Our faith is “Christ centered,” and we believe in living in peace, love, and forgiveness.

Ministry by the Evangelical Church for Revival group at Haiti Orphanage.

Our congregation is blessed by the ministries of Senior Pastor Jean-Bruno Nzey and the Assistant Pastor and Evangelist Louis Kabamba for their commitment to serve the Lord. Additionally, the church has a body of elders and deacons in place. The church is blessed to operate with all five gift ministries found in Ephesian 4:11—apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers. Our mission is to spread locally and extend abroad. We focus on outreach and evangelism. ECR joined LMC in 2013. ECR has received many blessings from LMC in many ways. The two pastors of ECR meet with other church leaders of the Landisville-Manor district to assess the needs of the community.

In 2014, the church started to fulfill the Great Commission commended by Jesus Christ in the Mark 16. A team started going out on mission trips to Haiti were they established a partnership with a local ministry in Gonaives, Haiti, called “Ebenezer Mission.” During the trip, they worked directly with three churches and an orphanage. Additionally, another team including Pastor Nzey went to Chad in Africa twice for mission trips to remote areas. This team was able to reach out to Muslim communities, present workshops on marriage, and teach on women’s ministry. Furthermore the team distributed medicine, provided limited medical supplies, and offered medical screening, all led by a nurse on the team.

Fernande Mbenza-Ngoma is a founding member of ECR, Elder. She serves on different levels of ministry at ECR including a seating member in the pastoral board. Fernande has been serving the Lord all of her life; she is a fervent believer and truly loves the Lord. Originally from Haiti, she is a wife, a friend, and a sister.

The ministry is focused on mission, deliverance and healing, and restoration of all aspects of life through the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Many have surrendered and rededicated their lives to the Lord Jesus. We pray continuously to bring down the strongman and the strongholds in Lancaster County by taking the gospel of Jesus Christ to people and making disciples for Christ. Our ministry is blessed with a building that allows us to worship freely and hold various activities throughout the week.

We believe that the Lord, who has been with us for the last 15 years, will continue to demonstrate His unfailing love and faithfulness toward us as we march on together to proclaim the Good News until the day of Jesus Christ.

Then the Lord reached out His hand and touched my mouth and said to me, “I have put my words in your mouth.  See, today I appoint you over nations and kingdoms to uproot and tea down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant.”  ~Jeremiah 1:9-10 (NIV)


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