Thornblooms Honored for 44 Years of Mission Ministry

Post a Comment » Written on June 23rd, 2007     
Filed under: News
PORTLAND, OR (June 23, 2007) – In a tear-filled ceremony punctuated with two lengthy standing ovations, Evangelical Covenant Church delegates and others, including a special guest from Congo, celebrated the ministry of retiring missionaries Bob and Janet Thornbloom this morning during the 122nd Annual Meeting of the Evangelical Covenant Church.

The Thornblooms served as Covenant missionaries to Congo for 44 years. Bob’s parents were missionaries there – he was born and raised in the country. He learned to speak the native Nbgaka language before English.

Thornblooms and Palmberg

Prior to presenting two plaques, Palmberg observed that for longtime Covenanters, the Thornblooms “have been the constant in our lives.” He added, “Thank you for your years and years of faithful service, done with as much passion as I have seen in two human beings.”

Sanguma Mossai, president of the Covenant Church of Congo (CEUM), flew to Portland for the celebration. He had to halt his remarks several times because he had begun to weep.

“The CEUM is very grateful for the way the Thornblooms have given of themselves, and for the great, great things they have done to my people of Congo,” Sanguma said.

Sanguma focused most of his remarks on Bob Thornbloom. “He is the father of development in the CEUM,” Sanguma said. “He is a compassionate man. His heart breaks for the poor, the widows and the orphans.”

Bob fostered economic security through the many technical services he provided, Sanguma said. “He is an engineer with much wisdom.”

Thornblooms and SangumaThe missionary designed and built several dams that have benefited agriculture and provided water to the hospital at Karawa. Clean drinking water also has been made available to numerous communities because of wells that were dug.

“He built airstrips through the CEUM, and he did it to help bring medicines to hospitals,” Sanguma said, choking up.

In keeping with the theme of the Annual Meeting that has focused on combining compassion and evangelism, Sanguma said the Thornblooms “understood that if our people did well as individuals, they would support the work of the CEUM with their tithes and gifts.”

Sanguma stopped to speak on a more personal note to the Thornblooms, speaking in Ngbaka, his “mother tongue.” He addressed his friend, “Bobbie.” Bob wept, and Jan clasped his hands more tightly.

In his remarks, Bob told the gathering, “God has led us in miraculous ways. We couldn’t do it without you, without your prayers, without your support,” adding, “that’s how it happened. That’s how it is going to continue.”

With deep passion, Bob exhorted the gathering: “Now more than ever, the Congo still needs your support every day.” Poverty still oppresses the people. Many are able to feed themselves through their crops, but are unable to sell them to make money for other necessities. He told the delegates to think of being a wheat farmer who had not been able to sell a crop in 10 years.

“Every person has been given one life to make a difference in the world,” Jan said. “One must choose carefully to be sure it will be significant. If you are fortunate, you can make this difference where your dreams exist and your heart lives.

“Congo is where our dreams existed, and our hearts lived. But time marches on. We’ve come to a point where our focus is changing, but this change does not narrow our horizon. The horizon of life remains constant as long as one has open eyes to see it and walk towards it.”

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