Congolese Football and Song

sports clinicsports clinic

Nyanga, Democratic Republic of Congo – When a Belgian school inspector needed to recruit singers for the 1958 World’s Fair in Brussels, he entrusted the task to two missionary women, one of whom was Lodema Short. Short served from 1947–1981with Congo Inland Mission, now Africa Inter-Mennonite Mission – a partner agency with Mennonite Mission Network. Her musical abilities, her organizational skills and her relationships with hundreds of students enabled her to choose, and then chaperone, the nine young men who performed as the Happy Singers in Belgium.

 A nephew, Dwight Short of Idlewild Baptist Church in Lutz, Florida joined the AIMM delegation that traveled to Congo July 12–29, primarily because he wanted to learn more about his famous aunt.

 Dwight Short was able to video-tape 27 interviews, four with Happy Singer members, in addition to having conversation with many of Lodema Short’s students, many of whom are pastors.

 “She would love to know that so many of her students have ended up in the ministry,” Dwight Short said.

 The current principal of Lycée Miodi, Bernadette Manya Kikungo, was one of Lodema Short’s students.

 “Mama Kanamu [Lodema Short’s African name meaning, “Trustworthy”] worked very hard here at the school to train church leaders. Even the president of our church [Komuesa] was one of her students.”

 Short hopes to write a book to share his aunt’s story beyond the family circle.

 Dwight Short has another passion – evangelism through sports. Although the equipment he packed was bogged down by slow shipping throughout his entire stay in Congo, the four (soccer) footballs brought by other delegation members attracted about 400 kids for a football clinic in Tshikapa. He worked with Robert Irundu Mutundu, the National President of Mennonite Youth in Congo who shares Short’s burning desire “to see kids come to know Christ and grow the church”.

 In 2013, Irundu hopes to organize two football events for Mennonite youth in the interior of the country and a basketball clinic in Kinshasa, Congo’s capital city.

Written for Mennonite World Conference by Lynda Hollinger-Janzen, a writer for Mennonite Mission Network of Mennonite Church USA.

Photo caption: Robert Irundu Mutundu, National Youth President for Communauté Mennonite au Congo – CMCO (Mennonite Community in Congo), and Dwight Short plan for future evangelism and sports clinics. Photographer: Trisha Handrich.