Bernard Kabibu Bimvulu
Bernard Kabibu Bimvulu was born in 1948 near the town of Mboyi in the Central Kasai area of the Democratic Republic of Congo. The third of five children of Benoit Bimvulu and Alice Katshiki, he attended the nearby elementary school of the American Presbyterian Congo Mission. In 1970, he graduated with a degree in biochemistry from the United Secular School of Katubue. His college education at ICP in Kananga included courses in education, sociology, and English. He married Astrid Mujinga Tshioto, who was at his side through a lifetime of jobs and moves. Bernard and Astrid had nine children and 25 grandchildren. Their home was always filled with family, friends, visitors, and good food!
Bernard started teaching secondary school in 1970, first at Saint Paul Tshibala, then Katubue, then Aye Nabo at Tshibala. He was promoted to teaching and administration at higher education levels at Katoka, Mboyi, Kananga, and the Theology School of Kasai of the Communauté Presbytérienne au Congo. While he taught many subjects, he is particularly remembered for his linguistic gifts. He taught many people French and English, while he taught Americans the local language Tshiluba.
What followed his early career in educational institutions was twenty-eight years of dedicated service in leadership positions at the Institut Médical Chrétien du Kasai (IMCK), a Christian health care and medical teaching facility near Kananga.
In 1988, Bernard was hired as the administrator of the IMCK Dental Clinic and he assisted Dr. Sandy Marks in renovating this facility. From 1994 to 2001, he was the Director of IMCK Personnel. From 2001 until his retirement in 2016, he was the Administrator of IMCK. This demanding job required skills in personnel, financial management, public relations, long-range planning, and collaboration with national and international organizations. Bernard also played a major role in planning and promoting the renovation of the downtown PAX Clinic, including a more modern health center for women.
In the years he toured in the United States, he was gifted in articulating the special roles of IMCK: providing quality health care in an underserved region and teaching students in the areas of nursing, laboratory techniques, and health care administration. His experience in education and service as an elder in the Congo Presbyterian Church formed a strong foundation for expressing the need for Christian service in Congo. He inspired people with his clear message about the role of IMCK. These tours were demanding; those who traveled with Bernard were often quickly fatigued. But Bernard displayed an indomitable attitude about routine and discipline, passionately presenting the Christian work of IMCK.
Though Bernard was diminutive in stature, he was a giant in leadership and in his ability to convey the vital role of IMCK. During his administration, he wrote a Christmas letter each year to organizations around the world that collaborated with IMCK. Here is an excerpt from one of these letters which expressed the value he placed on partnerships:
“Grace and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ during this period, when we await the celebration of the birth of Him who loved us first. The year is coming to an end. Through our combined efforts (yours and ours), IMCK has survived to this day. Through our fieldwork, and with your support – financial, material, and spiritual – we have continued to serve the people of this part of the country. To do this, we want to take this opportunity to mark the end of one year and the beginning of another by thanking all of you with all our hearts for your support, your encouragement, and your prayers.”
In 2017, Bernard and Astrid moved to Kinshasa to seek specialized care for their health conditions. Sadly, both passed away within six months of each other in late 2018.
In recognition of Bernard’s dedication and service to the education and medical needs of people in Congo, Friends of IMCK has selected him as the honoree of our 2021 Matching Campaign for the IMCK Endowment Fund. Earnings from this fund help provide quality health care education and patient care in the central part of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Please join us in commemorating Bernard’s life and in supporting IMCK. Your contribution will be doubled in value because of matching funds provided by several generous IMCK supporters.
Thank You! Tuasakadila!