Dr Lévis Milegha Mbala, one of the founding fathers of Ephphatha, passed away from COVID-19 earlier this year.
He was a pioneer of the mission to reach people with hearing impairment in the DRC and pivotal to the inception of Ephphatha.
Most recently, he was Bishop and provincial president of the Church of Christ for North Kivu (where our ministry partners Ephpatha and HEAL Africa serve) and the chair of the Board of Ephphata – a position he held with faith and pride.
People with a disability often face heavy stigma in the DRC, especially in communities where a it is seen as a type of curse or punishment from God for the behaviour of someone in the family. People with hearing impairment in particular are deemed ‘worthless’ by many because communication challenges make it difficult for them to find work, but Dr Mbala believed and preached the truth of God creating every person in his image.
Securing funding was always a challenge for Ephphatha – beneficiaries and local communities typically can’t afford to contribute and they’ve struggled to find external funds (WorldShare is currently their sole external contributor) – and his ministry to the deaf received almost constant opposition, but Dr Mbala never gave up.
Once when he was directly challenged why he didn’t focus more on other projects he replied, “What would Jesus choose? I do many things, but every time I visit Ephphatha, the satisfaction I get there is beyond my understanding. God loves them and we should be there forever, loving them and empowering them to live independently”.
This is a great loss for the body of Christ in the DRC, for people with hearing impairment in the DRC and surrounding countries, and especially for the community at Ephphatha, please them in your prayers at this time.