Stories & Commentaries

Congolese Refugee Family Joins Colorado Church

"Isaac" and his family join the Denver South Seventh-day Adventist Church by profession of faith and baptism.

Isaac and Pastor Christian Martin

Isaac and Christian Martin (center), pastor of the Denver South Seventh-day Adventist Church, pose with some of Isaac's family. Photo provided by the Rocky Mountain Conference

Isaac, born Dyirengiro Amini Byiringiro, and his family had to flee their home when he was just 5 years old. The collapse of the People’s Republic of the Congo and the resulting civil war forced many native Congolese from their homeland and into temporary settlements for shelter. Isaac, his parents, and sisters moved into a Rwandan refugee camp, where they’d live for 20 years.

In the refugee camp, Isaac and his extended family discovered an Adventist church and began attending each Sabbath. Soon, the majority of the family were baptized into the faith, became heavily involved in weekly worship, and even formed a choir to sing for the congregation.

After the decades of life spent as refugees in Rwanda, Isaac and his family were able to immigrate to the United States and settle in the Denver, Colorado, area.

Christian Martin, pastor of the Denver South Church noticed Isaac in the congregation, and an “amazing friendship” quickly developed. Learning that Isaac’s extended family lived locally, Martin was invited to their home, and instantly felt “transported from Denver to the heart of Africa” with the warm friendliness and good food they shared.

Only the youngest children of the family spoke English, so the family had typically held church in their home on Sabbath since moving to the U.S. Having been baptized in the refugee camp, Isaac and his family did not have baptismal records. “Would you like to be accepted into our church by profession of faith?” Martin asked.

“Even without knowing the language, they understood and had huge smiles on their faces,” Martin explained. There were 15 people in the room who all wanted to become members of the Denver South Church.

Soon after, Martin met with Issac’s family to facilitate their baptismal vows around a feast of African food. With Isaac’s help translating, each repeated their vows in their mother tongue. After the last person completed their vows, they asked if they could sing a song for Martin to express the joy they felt at becoming members of Denver South Church, and they sang their joy in beautiful harmony.

Remaining members of the family who had not yet been baptized took Bible studies with Martin, using a translator, and were baptized on June 2, 2018. The family choir sang a song of thanksgiving and the congregation welcomed the entire group into the church family with a resounding “Amen!”

“Brothers and sisters,” Martin said, addressing the broadly-smiling family, “welcome to a place where you belong. We embrace you as a part of this church family and we look forward to seeing what the Lord will do in your lives.”

“This is happy day for our family,” Isaac expressed, “because we are members of a Christian church.”