With a population of almost 4 million in 2006, the city of Mbuji-Mayi was easily one of the three largest cities in DR Congo. But when the global recession hit in 2007-2008, the diamond market plummeted and a mass exodus ensued. MIBA, the largest mining company in town, closed its doors. The train stopped running from Lubumbashi, so many businessmen packed up and left. The MIBA mining company had been the lifeline of the city for many years. Without it, so many people left that our pastors were saying, “The city feels deserted in comparison to what it was.”
Churches struggled to keep their doors open. Those that were running 300-400 on Sunday mornings suddenly dropped to 50. Unable to make a living, many pastors abandoned their churches and left the city. Property values dropped almost 75%. Bandits were everywhere and a state of lawlessness prevailed. There was no peace or security in the city.
In spite of all the turmoil and discouragement, the Mbuji-Mayi Bible School extension survived.