Kusangila, Kitondo James Jean-Pierre
Birth and conversion
Kusangila Kitondo James Jean-Pierre was born on October 5, 1947 in Kiniangi in the Belgian Congo (now the Democratic Republic of Congo) in the Panzi sector of the Kasongo-Lunda territory in the present-day Kwango province. His father’s name was Mwemba Kavuya and his mother’s name was Lubondo. Both were originally from Kiniangi and belonged to the Yaka tribe. They were Christians and members of the Kiniangi congregation of the CEFMC. Kusangila Kitondo was the third of five children, all boys and all now deceased.
Kusangila began his primary education at the age of five at the American Mennonite Brethren Mission (AMBM) mission station in Panzi in 1952, and he received his certificate in 1957. He received Jesus Christ in 1956 when he was in the fifth grade at Panzi. Rev. Lusoki Simon’s preaching on Romans 3:23 and 6:23 brought peace to his heart.
Studies, marriage, and family life
From 1957 to 1959, Kusangila did preparatory studies at the AMBM station of Kipungu, in the Payi-Kongila territory, under the direction of missionary Ben H. Klassen.  He obtained his Certificat de fin d’études préparatoires in 1959.
From 1959 to 1963, Kusangila attended secondary school in Nyanga, a Congo Inland Mission (CIM)  station in Kasai province. Reverend Pastor Lusoki Simon baptized him in Kiniangi in 1960. His studies were interrupted by the Pierre Mulele war that began in September 1963 in the territories of Idiofa and Gungu. Because of this war, the school in Nyanga was temporarily closed and Kusangila and his colleagues returned to Kikwit  by plane in December 1963.
In January 1964, John B. Kliewer, the legal representative of the Association of Mennonite Brethren Churches in the Congo (Association des Églises des Frères mennonites du Congo or AEFMC, later CEFMZ and then CEFMC), requested special enrollment at the Kikwit Atheneum (an official state school) for the students from Nyanga. They were able to continue their studies there during the 1963-1964 school year. At the Kikwit Atheneum, Kusangila experienced discrimination from some students and teachers. He therefore applied for admission to the Kenge Atheneum in Kenge territory, and studied there for the year 1965-1966. After the rebellion ended, Kusangila returned to secondary school in Nyanga where he completed his secondary education.
Kusangila Kitondo married Luboko Mwemba on September 7, 1967 at the CEFMC parish in Panzi. He was a good husband to his wife. The two of them collaborated in worship and other church activities, and he encouraged her to become a preacher of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
The couple had eight children – three boys and five girls – all of whom are still living. Their names are Kusangila Kitondo Fortunat, Kusangila Makiese Emilienne, Kusangila Batutiaku Martin, Kusangila Makumbu Yvette, Kusangila Lubondo Philomène, Kusangila Matondo Rosette, Kusangila Ngisa Patience and Kusangila Lelo Benjamin. As a father, Kusangila Kitondo had a good attitude towards his children, offering advice and dialogue, and displaying temperance. He was a smiling, non-aggressive man who liked to share biblical teachings for the guidance of his children. He wanted all his children to grow in the word of Jesus to be leaders in the future, and so he made them study and work, while advising them to put God before all things and to recognize Christ as their Savior. He directed all his children into secular studies, and they are all Christians.
With his friends, Kusangila had a caring spirit. Some of his friends, such as the families of Tshiakeni, Mukanza, and Fumana Pierre, became like family members.
Pastor and teacher
Since Kusangila did not have the financial means to continue university studies, he decided to start working. The CEFMC authorities assigned him to the Kafumba elementary school in Kwilu and then to the Manzemba school in Panzi in Kwango to direct and organize these schools from 1968 to 1972. However, while he was principal of the primary school in Manzemba, Kusangila received a calling to become a pastor. Other pastors and missionary John Ratzlaff commended and encouraged him in this vocation. From 1972 to 1976 he studied theology at the Institut supérieur théologique de Kinshasa (ISTK; now the Université Chrétienne de Kinshasa or UCKIN). Upon completion of his theological studies, Kusangila was assigned to the CEFMC Mbandu parish in Kikwit from 1976 to 1983. At the same time, he served as a professor at the Kikwit Bible Institute from 1976 to 1979. He was ordained pastor in Panzi on March 20, 1983.
Kusangila used his administrative and pedagogical expertise for the benefit of CEFMC educational institutions. As an experienced pedagogue, he served as director and headmaster in the schools of Kikandji, Kafumba, Panzi, Manzemba and Tambu-Tseke from about 1966 to 1970. Thanks to his work, all these schools were recognized by the Congolese government and received the necessary subsidies to cover the cost of personnel and operations. He was also director of the Kikwit Bible Institute from 1976 to 1979. And he was the legal representative of the CEFMC when missionary John Esau  established the Nzashi-Mwadi Bible Institute in Kasongo-Lunda territory in 1985.
Senior CEFMC leader
Kusangila rose through all the ranks of the CEFMC’s administrative hierarchy. He was elected as administrative secretary and deputy legal representative in 1979, a position he held until 1984. He was then elected general secretary and legal representative of the CEFMC from 1984 to 1991. During this time he received a scholarship to study at Mennonite Brethren Bible College (MBBC; now Canadian Mennonite University)  in Winnipeg, Canada, where he earned his seminary certificate in 1990. Under his leadership, the church grew. By the end of his tenure, the CEFMC had a membership of 58,000 in three church regions, 48 districts and 55 parishes.
Kusangila accomplished many other things during his tenure as he was involved in various initiatives involving construction, animal husbandry, development, inter-community collaboration, and the founding of parishes and institutions of the CEFMC.
Kusangila was a breeder of small and large livestock, and he did petty trading and other work. As a CEFMC leader, he and Ernest Dyck  led the church’s participation in the Protestant Agricultural Program (PAP) initiated by Mennonite Brethren Missions/Services International (MBMSI). Other churches, the CMCO (Communauté mennonite au Congo)  and the CBCO (Communauté baptiste au Congo), were also members and collaborated in the breeding of large livestock. Kusangila was especially involved in the development of the PAP in Kibolo, south of Kikwit. Kusangila was also involved in the cooperatives initiated in Congo by Ernest Dyck in collaboration with MEDA (Mennonite Economic Development Associates).  He worked primarily in the cooperatives of Kafumba, Panzi and Kingwangala.
Kusangila initiated several other construction and development projects. For example, he was a founding member of the Habitat for Humanity project for the population of Kanzombi in Kikwit in 1982 as a negotiator for loans with Canadian partners. He was also a founding member of the Lukolela Savings and Credit Union, based at the CUEBC Parish in Kikwit. He was a founding member of the construction project of the Protestant guest house in Kikwit. Under his leadership, roofs were built for some twenty CEFMC parishes, especially in Kwilu, Kwango and Kinshasa.
Kusangila took administrative steps to recover the land belonging to all the Protestant churches in Kikwit that was in the hands of people of ill will. Under his leadership, the National Inter-Mennonite Committee of Congo (CONIM) was created in 1988. This association brings together the three Mennonite communities in Congo. Kusangila also founded two CEFMC parishes, those of Mbandu and Ville-Basse in Kikwit.
Kusangila was a wise man. He encountered two important difficulties to which, in his wisdom, he was able to give concrete solutions. First, during his tenure the collaboration between CEFMC and the MBMSI missionaries was sometimes difficult because the mission still held a lot of economic and financial power. Under his leadership, the Central Executive Committee and the General Assembly resolved that if the legal representative of the Community was a Congolese, the General Secretary should be an expatriate missionary to represent MBMSI. This contributed to a better collaboration for some time.  (However, a few years later, for various reasons, the roles of the legal representative and the general secretary were combined, and the expatriate missionaries withdrew from the leadership roles of the CEFMC).  Second, after the creation of the three ecclesiastical regions of the CEFMC, there were conflicts and divisions among the different regions. In response, Kusangila organized commissions of wise people, who helped to resolve the problems in each church region. 
He served as pastor of the CEFMC parish in Bumbu from 2007 until his death in 2020 following a short illness.
Malebe Mubwayele Abdon
- Gameo link CEFMC: https://gameo.org/index.php?title=Communaut%C3%A9des%C3%89glises_de_Fr%C3%A8res_Mennonites_au_Congo
- Gameo link Ben H. Klassen: https://gameo.org/index.php?title=Klassen,Benjamin_H.%22Ben%22_(1924-2004)
- Gameo link Congo Inland Mission: https://gameo.org/index.php?title=Africa_Inter-Mennonite_Mission
- Gameo link Kikwit: https://gameo.org/index.php?title=Kikwit_(Democratic_Republic_of_the_Congo)
- Gameo link John Esau: https://gameo.org/index.php?title=Esau,John(1926-1998)
- Gameo links Mennonite Brethren Bible College: https://gameo.org/index.php?title=Mennonite_Brethren_Bible_College_(Winnipeg,Manitoba,_Canada) and Canadian Mennonite University https://gameo.org/index.php?title=Canadian_Mennonite_University(Winnipeg,_Manitoba,_Canada)
- Gameo link Ernest Dyck: https://gameo.org/index.php?title=Dyck,Ernest_H.(1922-2009)_(FR)
- Gameo link Mennonite Brethren Missions/Services International (MBMSI): https://gameo.org/index.php?title=Mennonite_Brethren_Missions/Services_International_(Mennonite_Brethren_Church)
- Gameo link Communauté mennonite au Congo: https://gameo.org/index.php?title=Communaut%C3%A9_Mennonite_au_Congo
- Gameo link Mennonite Economic Development Associates: https://gameo.org/index.php?title=Mennonite_Economic_Development_Associates_(MEDA)
- Malebe Mubwayele Abdon, “L’administration des Églises des Frères mennonites au Congo de 1971-2012: une étude comparative des représentants légaux congolais,” Bachelor of Theology thesis, Faculty of Evangelical Theology of the Université chrétienne de Kinshasa, 2014, p. 48.
- Jean-Claude Kikweta A Mawa Wabala and Maurice Matsitsa-N’singa, “The Mennonite Brethren Church in the Congo,” Journal of African Christian Biography 7 (2) (April-July 2022), p. 51-52.
- Malebe, “L’administration des Églises des Frères mennonites au Congo,” p. 48.
Kikweta A Mawa Wabala, Jean-Claude and Maurice Matsitsa-N’singa. “The Mennonite Brethren Church in the Congo.” Journal of African Christian Biography 7 (2) (Apr-Jul 2022): 40–58.
Kikweta Mawa Wabala, Jean Claude. Biographie des Bâtisseurs de la CEFMC, Tome 1 (de 1919 à 1959). Kinshasa, Centre Aaron Janzen, 2013.
Kusangila Kitondo Fortunat, eldest son of pastor Kusangila. Interview by the author on July 5, 2022 in Kinshasa, DR Congo.
Kusangila Kitondo James Jean-Pierre. Interviews by Anicka Fast on September 28 and October 18, 2018, in Kinshasa, DR Congo.
Malebe, Mubwayele Abdon. “L’administration des Églises des Frères mennonites au Congo de 1971-2012 : une étude comparative des représentants légaux congolais.” Bachelor of Theology thesis, Faculty of Evangelical Theology of the Université chrétienne de Kinshasa, 2014.
This biography, received in 2022, was researched and written by Malebe Mubwayele Abdon under the supervision of Dr. Anicka Fast. Pastor Malebe holds a Diplôme d’études approfondies (DEA) in Evangelical Theology from the Université chrétienne de Kinshasa (UCKIN) and is head of works in the same faculty.
(1) Pastor Kusangila in 1986 in Nzasi-Mwadi, baptizing an unidentified young man (Kusangila is the third person conducting a baptism, from left to right). Used by permission of the Mennonite Library and Archives at Fresno Pacific University.
(2) Poster for the funeral of Pastor Kusangila, December 12, 2020.
(3) Pastor Kusangila in a pastoral collar in June 2019.