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May2WedTanzanian Bienvenue Musogota has found two new homes: in Canada and at The Salvation Army. May 2, 2018 by Ken Ramstead
It is altogether appropriate that one of Bienvenue Musogota’s duties at The Salvation Army’s Sherbrooke Community Church in Quebec is as a greeter, since his Christian name means welcome in French.
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“Bienvenue left a country at war to come to Canada, to live in security for the first time,” says Captain Claude Dagenais, corps officer. “Adaptation is always a challenge considering language and culture, but the church family he has found at The Salvation Army has made his journey that much easier.”
“When I needed help,” says Musogota, “the Army was there for me.”
Finding His Way
Musogota was born in the Democratic Republic of Congo and grew up in Tanzania with his sister, two brothers and mother, but the violence in the region made them realize that they needed to find a new home. It took four years for their case to wind its way through the system, but in 2012, the Musogotas were accepted by Canada and the family immigrated in 2012.
“It was the answer to prayer,” says Musogota. After a short stay in Montreal, the family settled in Sherbrooke, nestled in Quebec’s Eastern Townships southeast of Montreal.
“We didn’t know anything about The Salvation Army before coming to Canada,” says Musogota, “but when we arrived here in Quebec, we were given a list of religious institutions in case we were interested. We asked some of our new friends here if they had any suggestions where we could worship, and they brought us right to the doors of The Salvation Army here in Sherbrooke.
“We’ve been attending ever since.”
A Failure to Communicate
The Musogotas embraced their new faith community along with their new citizenship.
“I liked everything about The Salvation Army,” says Musogota. “The congregation was welcoming and helpful. For example, when we needed to move, so many people offered to help us. And Captain Claude has been a wonderful inspiration. They’ve all nourished and sustained me in my faith.”
Becoming an official member of The Salvation Army seemed to be the next logical step for Musogota, and he started taking soldiership courses in 2013. But the plans derailed not long after due to a simple linguistic misunderstanding.
“I thought that by taking these courses, I was actually being conscripted into the Canadian Armed Forces,” he laughs now. “After everything I had fled from, the last thing I wanted was to have someone put a gun in my hand so that I could shoot people!”
So Musogota walked away.
“After getting to know him, I realized he had spent a large part of his formative years in refugee camps,” explains Captain Dagenais. “He’s seen war’s atrocities up close but never lost his faith, which made his reluctance to join any type of armed force understandable.”
By 2014, the misunderstanding had been cleared up and, now that Musogota understood, he had no hesitation about retaking the soldiership course, and he was enrolled.
Being a soldier is all-important to Musogota.
“I am proud to be a soldier because it shows that I have been saved, that I am a soldier of Christ and, by being a soldier and wearing my uniform for all to see, I am helping to point people to Jesus,” he says.
“It gives Bienvenue the opportunity to show his identity in Christ,” says Captain Dagenais.
Besides being a greeter, Musogota volunteers to provide information to newcomers to the church and helps with the collection and Sunday school. He’s also a kettle worker during the holidays, averaging 10-15 shifts every year.
Musogota is hoping that officership will be in his future but for now is content with driving a taxi along the streets of Sherbrooke. Captain Dagenais is convinced that his future is bright.
“Christ lives in him,” he concludes.