Alumni Spotlight: Eleazar Nzoera

Eleazar Nzoera (’17) remembers the exact hour he lost his mother. It was January 1, 2011 at 11:00 pm. His mother was an inspiration to him. She was a counselor and a woman of deep faith and prayer who passionately cared for her children and others. But when Eleazar was still in high school, she died unexpectedly from complications related to surgical operation. Her loss was felt deeply by many but it was particularly devastating for Eleazar.

“There were physical and emotional symptoms like headaches and deep sadness. On the relational level, I was lonely,” Eleazar explained.

Eleazar’s grief caused him to spiral into depression and though he was lonely, he isolated himself from others for years. He felt vulnerable and he felt uncomfortable in group settings. So, he lived a life disconnected from others and spent much of his time reflecting on his mother’s life and her departure. He felt stuck in his grief.

Things began to change for Eleazar when he was in his third year at the Université Chrétienne Bilingue du Congo (UCBC). He took the introductory counseling course taught by the Director of Bethesda Counseling Center, Noé Kasali. The course helped him identify the root of his problems and he slowly began to open up to others, including his peers. He began to come to terms with his loss. With the support of his friends, he began to find peace and reconciliation with God. For him, UCBC not only helped him on the intellectual or academic level but it really helped him through his own grief and spiritual growth. He began to thrive and focus on ways he can pour his life into others just like his mother did.

Eleazar originally considered medicine after high school but his own experience with grief sparked a passion for psychology. As he began to consider training opportunities, a friend told him about the Biblical Counseling program at UCBC in nearby Beni.

“I wanted a program that incorporated the spiritual aspect of being human. I learned through a friend that UCBC and that had a program that balanced both science and spirituality,” he shared.

Eleazar found at UCBC both the methods and practices that would equip him as a counselor as well as a community that was particularly concerned with improving the livelihoods of others, particularly those vulnerable in society. Since he was young, Eleazar held particular compassion and empathy for orphans and the elderly. Moreover, he was given the opportunity to help hundreds of individuals facing despair and struggling from trauma when he joined Bethesda as a trauma counselor.

“All of this was possible because of my decision to attend UCBC. I’ll never regret that decision because my dream is being fulfilled today. I am inspired when I see people overcome their trauma. It gives me great joy to see our clients experience healing.”

Alumni Spotlight: Dieudonné Agaba

The son of a teacher, Dieudonné Agaba (‘15) knew the importance of education from an early age. He also recognized the value of language as a learning tool and gaining access to knowledge and information. Even though studying in the metropolitan city of Kampala in neighboring Uganda was an option, Dieudonné saw that Université Chrétienne Bilingue du Congo (UCBC) offered exactly what he was looking for – English and Computer Engineering. But he also saw something special about this University in his home country. 

“At UCBC, I learned to live in community, serve, and to really focus on work. It changed my way of viewing things.  I learned to belong.” 

Finding a sense of belonging at UCBC continues to shape Dieudonné’s work today. He serves as a Monitoring & Evaluation Specialist for Mercy Corps, an international organization tackling the world’s toughest challenges with lifesaving assistance and building resilient communities. According to Dieudonné, “everything that we are doing needs to promote community development and that is something that UCBC inspired in me as well.” 

One of the things that drove Dieudonné into this work was the desire to ensure aid responds to the needs of the people. For too long, he witnessed critical aid mismanaged. Through UCBC, he developed both the practical and problem-solving skills that would help him improve database management procedures so resources were properly managed and benefited those with the greatest needs.

“When I send a report, I feel like I am sending the report from my community and I can make sure that they are satisfied with the aid and that their life is really improving,he shared.

While working to improve the livelihoods of others through Mercy Corps, Dieudonné and some of his friends go a step further. In Goma, there is a consistent problem at local hospitals where patients cannot cover the costs of care and treatment. As a result, they end up having to stay in the hospital until the fees are covered.

“It can feel like a prison,” Dieudonné explained. “So we organized a program called Social Action for Hope where we contribute to a fund to help pay hospital fees for these patients so they can return home.”

For Dieudonné, UCBC is shepherding new leadership that the people are desperately seeking in Congo. These leaders think first about the community and look at challenges as opportunities for change – an opportunity to make a positive impact.

“When you see challenges, you identify them, and then say, ‘what can I do to address these problems.’ This is something I learned at UCBC.”

Alumni Spotlight: Miché Lughembe

Miché Kakule Lughembe studied Biblical Counseling and Psychology in the Theology Faculty at UCBC. He now serves as a pastor at a church in Boikene, a neighborhood near UCBC that has been particularly devastated by frequent militia attacks and kidnappings. As recently as the middle of November, a militia group killed civilians and kidnapped others, sending much of the population fleeing. 

Miché never thought he would be there, serving a community traumatized by war.  Before he came to UCBC, he was working hard at a store in Kisangani, saving up so he could study business.

However, that changed when Miché had a conversation with a mentor who encouraged him to check out UCBC because he believed the university could nurture and encourage Miché in his interests and dreams.

“What inspired me when I visited UCBC was the philosophy “being transformed to transform,” to be transformed to transform the world. The way I was trained at UCBC motivated me, inspired me to go and serve my community so that those who are traumatized can be healed.”

Through UCBC, Miché was equipped as a pastor to serve others compassionately, responding to and accompanying them through their grief and suffering. As Miché explains,

“When I came to UCBC, I didn’t know how to accompany a traumatized person…I have learned that to accompany a person you have to go into his or her skin, understand the pain, and help. Because if we do not understand others’ pain, we will not be able to support or accompany them. And what motivates a person to enter into the pain of the other is love. At UCBC, the life and community demonstrate this love. We share, we accompany each other, staff and students alike. This environment transformed me and made me feel compassion. Life at UCBC helped me experience God’s kingdom.”

It is quite rare for someone as young as Miché to lead a church in Beni. Normally, church leaders appoint pastors who have more experience. In general, they are older. But shaped and trained at UCBC, the leaders saw in Miché someone equipped to lead and accompany a community that has experienced immense suffering and hardship. At first Miché was hesitant, concerned about the reaction of the church members. But he found a situation entirely in contrast to his expectations. He was embraced, encouraged, and supported by the community and its elders.

Miché explains his motivation: “I am here because of my compassion for the people who have lost loved ones. Some have lost parents, brothers, children. Some have abandoned or lost their fields. They have been traumatized and need to be accompanied. I want to help them spiritually and psychologically. I didn’t come here for money; I came here for compassion.”

UCBC equipped Miché through a community that believed through its members, change was possible. One thing that motivates Miché is UCBC’s founding verse: Isaiah 43:18-19. “UCBC has a passage that embodies the vision. Forget what happened, don’t think about past events anymore, here I am, I want to do something new. In the wilderness, I will make a way, and will bring forth waters in the dry places, there are new things coming. It is up to us to start small, where we are, and now. With the Lord, there are new things coming. That’s what I learned at UCBC.”

Alumni Spotlight: Anuarite Kahambu

After graduating from secondary school and succeeding in the state exams, Anuarite Mathe Kahambu, set her sights on the next chapter in her education. However, with two older brothers still completing their studies, her father said she would have to wait a year. As farmers in the small town of Oicha, financially supporting one, let alone two children, was already a challenge.

Though Anuarite was disappointed, she knew her time would come. But she also knew if she could find a good, affordable university nearby, she could continue on her journey and dream to attend university sooner rather than later.

Then, one day she heard on the radio an advertisement for Université Chrétienne Bilingue du Congo in nearby Beni. She called the number provided and spoke with a UCBC staff member. She was inspired as the staff member explained UCBC’s philosophy – being transformed to transform, the community focus, Women’s Voices, and the desire to help students not only succeed in their studies but provide a space for spiritual formation.

And, thanks to your support of our NEXT 500 campaign, she was able to enroll at UCBC 2015. Throughout her studies, she learned and enjoyed many aspects of UCBC’s transformative education. But one word stood out from her educational experience – humility.

Anuarite explains, “Through UCBC, I learned that someone can receive a diploma but humility is the key to whatever you go on to do. I learned this from UCBC staff. I took this example of humility and incorporate it into my life and work today. I feel very hopeful that one day the vision of UCBC will be accomplished and I pray that God uses me to expand this vision. I want to be a source of blessings to many and to use my knowledge to help all those who are in need of my service.”

Anuarite graduated this past year with a degree in Computer Engineering and is now working as a database manager at EREST (Renewable Energy and Healthy Environment for All) in Beni. She believes that a better future Congo is possible through the next generation of leaders and wants to play a role in the areas of renewable energy and the environment. She recently visited UCBC on International Women’s Day and spoke on the importance of STEM education and women in sciences.

“I dream of a Congo in which youth are actors not observers. I want to be one of these actors and use my knowledge to help those in need.”