Redeemed with Grace | OUR STORY

Grace Covenant Church, established in 1959 as Knollbrook Covenant Church, is located in a peaceful stretch of north Fargo with a small, primarily elderly, congregation. Some of the members have been attending since the 70s. After service in the soft maple-clad chapel, congregants conversantly make their way down to the fellowship hall where treats and coffee are served, and then later pushed by the ever-insistent and joyful Phil.

A few years ago, Grace accepted an inquiry from Redeemed Covenant Church, a congregation of Banyamulenge Tutsi Congolese refugees in need of a space. Evariste Busanga, the pastor, has been in the States with his wife and 9 children for 14 years (since 2008). During that time, he met and helped to welcome many more refugees from his homeland. When fellow refugee Angelique and her five children arrived, he was able to use his experience navigating a new and unfamiliar culture to teach her how to navigate the grocery stores and to buy the right variety of soap for each appliance. Their strong community continues to cascade, and congregants come from as far as Bismarck (a two and a half hour drive) on any given Sunday. 

Claude shares his story with the Redeemed with Grace group.

In early 2021, leadership of both churches recognized the need to grow the communities together while helping to integrate and aid the new Americans. We began an English Language Learning (ELL) program with a bent of removing language barriers to help folks achieve gainful employment. We share networks, recommend respected employers, and share knowledge of American employment practices. The regional president of US Bank has also come for several sessions with other bank employees to educate on personal finance topics. 

We still have many of the same hopes to integrate and prosper this community of people as we grow to know them. But what we needed to do was to listen. It is clear they are people who are desperate to be heard. When asked how we might better help, they very frequently request to pray together and use contacts to help people back home. They do not ask for themselves; instead, young men like Claude work 80 hours per week to be able to send money to his family back home. Everyday he lives in fear of their attack. We have hosted several listening sessions and captured stories, some of which can be read here.

The Redeemed and Grace congregations continue to work towards integration and prospering here in Fargo for the sake of helping bring safety, justice, and dignity to their people back home in Congo and Burundi - especially the two regions where the Banyamulenge have been sectioned off by violent militia groups where the Banyamulenge people can’t access food, supplies, or medical treatments - the most extreme region being Minembwe.

There is only one NGO operating in Eastern Congo region at this time, but even they are unwilling to move into the Minembwe region unless there is a proven channel for providing aid. The US State Department has travel alerts and the international world is wary due to recent and ongoing sporadic attacks. 

We have close contact with two organizations doing work on the ground. The first is Asili, whose aim is to reinvent humanitarian aid as startup capital for self-sustaining businesses, operated by and for the people who need them. They operate out of Bukavu, DRC, and have an office in Minneapolis.

Pastor Evariste visits the Asili offices in Bukavu, DRC | April 2022


Second is with Evariste’s cousin, Pastor Herara, in Minembwe. In addition to shepherding a congregation within Minembwe, he is the director of a primary and secondary school, and runs New Hope Center. While on the phone with Pastor Herara, Alison frantically scribbled notes trying to keep up with the aid that New Hope Center offers: helping kids with food and education, offering basic needs for refugees, and building a center to reteach children who were formerly in the military. Oh, and they are constructing an orphanage. And also they have a massive need for counseling for the heavy psychological disorders induced by the shocking violence. I was struck that I could barely keep up writing this list; the needs are astronomical. 

Pastor Evariste traveled to Eastern Congo in April 2022 to see if we can make inroads safely into the region. Grace and Redeemed sent Evariste with hand-sewn menstrual pads for women and $1,000 cash to be used for the purchase of seed, He was able to deliver all that he brought with him to those who needed them.

Pastor Evariste meets with others from the Banyamulenge tribe in the DRC | April 2022

“Many people told me to not dare to go there, but I said I have to go, I have to go and give them comfort and pray with them. So, the day I was there, it was a day of mourning, they were just burying someone who was killed just because of who he was. So, I was there, having the pads and cash from women at Grace Covenant.” 

-Pastor Evariste Busanga


Evariste was able to send the initial carrying cash and an additional wire transfer on a plane to Minembwe, where they split the money between immediate and future needs: 72 bags of wheat, soap, and seeds. We later received a video of the pastor speaking to his congregation as they blessed the gift:

“We invite you because of the gift we had from your friends who live overseas after they hear about our struggle, they have sent us some gift. This gift is from the church, Grace Covenant and Redeemed. Those two churches have sent the gift for us. We don’t need to know all their names, but what we know, we have this from them. They sent money, we bought 72 bags of flour. They may come here to see us. Because of these people, we thank those churches, we thank those churches, and those people of God who gave this to feed these people. May God bless you!”


As we go, we aim to say and make true: we hear you Banyamulenge. We will welcome you as neighbors, friends, coworkers, co-worshipers, sisters, and brothers into our city where we will help to restore you to the safety and dignity so cruelly stolen. We will sit with you and listen to your pain, we will echo your cries for justice, and work to bring life-saving resources to the people in Minembwe. We are filled with hope as word starts to spread and fall on affected ears compelled to action. Thank you for your consideration to bring urgently needed supplies and hope to long-plagued people. 

Behold, God is doing a new thing!