Wholicare Community Missionary Church

Wholicare Community Missionary Church

Wholicare Community Missionary Church is a group of Mennonites, predominantly Congolese, who meet in the Los Angeles area. The church was founded in the 1990s by Nlongi Mfwilwakanda, father of current pastor Helen Mfwilwakanda. The congregation’s worship services include English, French, and the Congolese language Lingala.

When I attended on Easter Sunday, April 1, 2018, Edgar White preached and lead communion as a guest pastor. Helen said they have often had help from other pastors since pastor Jules Massamba passed away in 1996 and, like other small congregations, Wholicare employs her on a part-time basis. As part of the communion ritual, the guest pastor poured water over participants’ hands into a basin, and he sang “Power in the Blood,” a nineteenth-century hymn by U.S. writer and composer Lewis Jones.

Photographs by Kingai Vincent Mosengo

The Wholicare church has a music group that practices weekly and leads congregational singing at Sunday afternoon worship services. The group members sing a variety of traditional and contemporary music, and many songs have parallel harmonies and call and response structures comparable to pan-African singing practices. Some include rhythm instruments, and all are accompanied by Thierry Nkwansambu on electric keyboard.

Video by Darryl Neustaedter Barg

When the congregation sang “Alas! and did my Savior bleed” (a text by 18th-century British writer Isaac Watts and tune by 19th-century U.S. composer R. E. Hudson; listen to the traditional a capella version here), they sang in English and used a keyboard, percussion, and some vocal interjections.

The group sang in several languages; this audio clip captures “This is the day,” a Fijian folk tune that was given English Christian lyrics by Les Garrett in the 20th century. The Wholicare music group follows “This is the day” with a song in Lingala. The call and response structure is more prominent in the latter, and in this song, which uses both English and Lingala text.

Members of the music group also write some of their own songs, such as “Kombo na Yesu” by Stockwell Massamba. Below, Stockwell leads this song, with Herve Nkwansambu and Tom Massamba joining her in harmonies:

Video by Darryl Neustaedter Barg

Scroll for lyrics
Lingala and French

Kombo na Yesu kombo na nguya, nkombo n’elonga kombo na yesu etonda na bikamua
Kombo na Yesu kombo na nguya kombo n’elonga kombo na yesu etonda na nguya.
Kombo na Yesu kombo na nguya kombo n’elonga kombo na Yesu etonda na kokamua
Kombo oyo
Kombo na Yesu kombo na nguya kombo n’elonga kombo nayesu etonda na nguya
Tokumisa ye tosanjola Yesu
Ye nkolo na bikamua aha kombo na Yesu
Etonda na nguya

Kombo na Yesu epesameli biso ohhh awa na se
Pe na likolo ohh
Na kombo na Yesu babeli bakobika kaka
Bakufi ba kosekua kaka
Po Yesu azali Nzambe ehhh

Que toutes les langues confessant que Jésus
Est rois que tout genoux fleshisse devant son authorité

Kombo oyo kombo na nguya
Kombo oyo kombua bikamua
Kombo epesameli biso
Kombo ebikisi babeli
Kombo oyo ba beli ba tatola
Kombo oyo esekwisa ba kufi
Kombo ebotisa bikomba
Kombo ekangola ba kangami
Kombo oyo bansatu ba tatola



The name of Jesus, powerful name, name of victory
The name of Jesus is full of miracles
The name is full of power

This name
The name of Jesus, name of power, name of victory, the name of Jesus is full of wonders
This name
The name of Jesus, name of power, name of victory, the name of Jesus is full of power
Let’s praise him, let’s worship Jesus
He is the Lord of miracles, the name of Jesus
Full of power

The name of Jesus has been given to us here on earth and in heaven
In the name of Jesus, the sick shall be healed
The dead shall be raised
For Jesus is God

Let all tongues confess that Jesus is King
Let every knee bow under His authority

This name, powerful name
This name, name of miracles
The name given to us
The name that heals the sick
The name the sick calls upon
The name which raises the dead
The name the barren woman calls upon
The name that frees the captive, the name the saints testify