He Always Taught with Love

Tributes to our dear friend Rene are summed up well with the following evaluation from one of his church-planting students in Burkina Faso: “You were so practical and so patient in teaching us. You taught us with so much love.”

This man of much love and laughter will not only be deeply missed by his family, close friends and colleagues, but the whole mission’s world will find that with his passing there is an irreplaceable void. He was one of the greats and a leader with influence in countless organizations in the sphere of African missions. He trained thousands of church planters and local leaders in countless countries as he traveled throughout Arabic speaking North Africa, all the countries of Francophone Africa and beyond. However, Rene’s doctorate degree, his many accomplishments in missions and his great energy belie his true greatness: his humility, abiding love and concern for others, his joyful personality and laughter, his deep faith and commitment to God, and his devotion to his family.

Pioneers in the Field of Oral Communication

For those of us who knew Rene through the ministry of Scriptures in Use (SIU), it was his passion for storytelling, dialogue, dance, song and especially drama that knitted us together for these twenty-two years. It was during the first workshop we held in Dakar, Senegal, in the spring of 1999, that Rene took on the mantle of training others in the SIU Bridges methodology. He discovered, for the very first time, his gift of storytelling. Not only could he memorize long passages, but he was also engaging, dramatic and effective as he told Scripture stories. From that first workshop, Rene and Faustine became pioneers in the field of Oral Communication with a great catalytic influence throughout West Africa. They had tremendous vision for the “least of these”: the nomadic people, the poor and rejected, the Pygmies of his home country of Central African Republic and so many others. “You taught us with so much love.” This same comment can be made all over French Africa as Rene gave his life to teaching others with love.

A True Humble Servant of God

Upon hearing of Rene’s sudden passing, our SIU Lead Trainers & Missionaries began reminiscing about Rene:

“Rene was such a gem. He was the most hard-working brother I have known.”

“Rene introduced SIU, Storytelling & the Oral Arts to many indigenous men and women of peace around the world. Rene’s words and vote of confidence in SIU’s equipping and training approach helped open up new relationships in new regions & countries.”

“Rene has been a friend of mine for over 20 years and we frequently met at conferences each year. He helped me gain access to new people and new opportunities.”

“A true humble servant of God, collaborating and sharing his love of Christ with others and helping to advance the Kingdom of God in dark places.”

“Rene is with Jesus! Where he so longed to be as he talked about the Light of Christ, Jesus’s love and his eternal Kingdom.”

Words cannot fully describe the impact Rene had on everyone he met during his time on earth, but they help us remember him as we look forward to seeing and greeting Rene again with King Jesus in the eternal Kingdom of God!

Please consider a donation as a memorial gift to Rene’s family through a special fund that has been setup up by Partners International:

Staying Connected

We invite you to post a tribute to Rene by replying below.

Hopefully, this post encouraged you. Thank you for staying connected with Scriptures in Use, our partners and the Lord’s work in oral cultures around the world. Please feel free to ask or leave any questions or comments to this post. We look forward to hearing from you!

2 replies
  1. Dan Vannelli
    Dan Vannelli says:

    As I learned of the passing of our dear friend, Rene Mbongo, following my initial surprise and sadness, memories of our 20 years of friendship immediately began coming to mind.

    When we first met, Rene was already a seasoned, well-traveled veteran of mission service through his work with Partners International, and I was more than a novice. Because of my position with Scriptures In Use, I often worked with Rene, who was one of SIU’s most respected and gifted master trainers. Over the years, we had many conversations (and countless emails) about his plans to share the storytelling model and about the resources he would need to accomplish his goals. And boy, did he have goals and a vision for reaching Africa. During my 12 years of service with SIU, Rene and I also had a number of opportunities to meet personally and work together, whether here in the US or somewhere in Africa, often in Senegal.

    During these years, our SIU training team not only had the chance to help plan, strategize and sponsor Rene’s work but to co-train with him in the field. It was during these times that I saw how completely tireless and utterly devoted he was to using any and all means and resources available to reach Africa for the Kingdom of God. His appetite for work was truly enormous! In fact our colleague, Tim Brown, and I often teased Rene, calling him “the ghost,” because he almost always would disappear in the evening, after a full day of training, to find some quiet space and the time he needed to continue to work on his very challenging workload. Then return quietly to his room at 3 or even 4 am (if he got any sleep at all), in order to be ready to go in that day’s training session.

    Rene was a mentor, friend, and teacher who always made the time to laugh, tease and enjoy life with those around him. He was a truly special man gifted and beloved for so many reasons. But his energy and zest for life along with his quick smile, profound humility, compassion and kindness are what set him apart. Rene also greatly loved his precious wife, Faustine, his co-partner in life and ministry, and each of his dear children. Along with them and his many friends, I will miss him greatly just knowing he no longer walks this earth with us. However, knowing he has met his Savior face to face, after his years of toiling so hard for the Kingdom, and that he has entered into the joy of The Lord will always put a smile on my face. I am a better man for having known and learned from this dear man and will be ever grateful for how his friendship has enriched my life.

    Rest in peace, dear friend.


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