A veteran world missions leader reflects upon a distinguished lifetime of missionary service from his friend and colleague, Bishop Martin Mutyebele who was laid to rest September 6, 2019 in Brussels, Belgium.
By Grant McClung
My friend Martin Mutyebele has been promoted to his heavenly reward where the Lord of the Harvest surely has welcomed him with, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.” Thousands attended his funeral at the New Jerusalem Church of God where the accolades of more than thirty years of apostolic leadership were highlighted and celebrated.
Martin’s leadership, with a faithful cadre of fellow workers, has resulted in some 40 congregations planted across Belgium, with numerous others among the French-speaking African diaspora throughout Europe and into North America. There is the medical center in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and a training seminary for French-speaking pastors and leaders based at the mother church in Brussels, now the largest Protestant Evangelical church in Belgium.
I first met my friend and his wife, Rosianne, thirty three years ago in a more humble setting — the living room of his modest apartment. John and Michelle Tijerina had joined the Belgian effort in 1979 and had planted a church among native Belgians. The Tijerinas faithfully worked in the St. Woluve Lambert district of Brussels and reported to Andre Weber, the Overseer of France. One special day in June 1986, in a meeting arranged long distance by European Field Director Douglas LeRoy, John introduced my wife, Janice, and I to the Mutyebele family.
Tijerina had established contact with a good number of lay professionals with African background who had been baptized in the Holy Spirit. By the time we visited in 1986, these business people had established a nucleus of some 200 attendees who were meeting with the existing Church of God congregation. It was a great week with all the church, teaching world missions and church growth. But a designated pastor was needed to lead the emerging African immigrant group.
Martin was a young engineer with a copper mining company based in Brussels but with major enterprises in the DRC (formerly known as Zaire). He had regular Bible studies in his office at the company where I called upon him one afternoon and prayed together about full-time pastoral leadership. Later that year, LeRoy officially installed him as pastor. By the time Bill George’s official history was published in 2010, the local church had grown to more than 3,500 (in multiple services) and had mothered another 18 congregations across the country (Bill George, Until All Have Heard: The Centennial History of Church of God World Missions. Cleveland, TN: Church of God World Missions/Pathway Press, 2010, pp. 236 – 238).
Later, as Field Director, I struggled with Martin and his leadership to find a place for the burgeoning church — something that would have sufficient place for worship and fellowship, educational space, and a home to the local and national church offices. On a cold winter day in Brussels, Men and Women of Action Director Bob Pace and I walked with Martin and his associates into a property prepared in heaven for the international reach of this dynamic ministry. Through the good graces of David Griffis and the International Department of Youth and Education, the property was adopted for funding through the 2000 YWEA promotion.
Martin was born under the bright African sky but has moved to the land of endless day where Jesus is the eternal light. Like young Martin Mutyebele, it is our time to step up to send the light to the nations until that day when Jesus comes again.
Dr. Grant McClung, President of Missions Resource Group (www.MissionsResourceGroup.org), is a member of the Executive Committee of the World Missions Commission of the Pentecostal World Fellowship, and International Missionary Educator with Church of God World Missions.