Moses Ehambenever removes the stainless steel cross unless he’s playing basketball. The rest of the time, it hangs around his neck. His father wore it for years. Wore it as a struggling immigrant from the Congo. Wore it as a minister preaching the gospel. Wore it as a father providing for his family. It was always around his neck.
Ehambe remembers seeing it there as his father mowed the lawn, shirt unbuttoned in the searing Texas heat. Now on the day that Americans celebrate freedom, Ehambe has a constant reminder of the dream his father chased and the one he now seeks. He wants to play in the NBA. "It’s been a dream of mine for so long,” said Ehambe, a former Oral Roberts standout who now plays with the Tulsa 66ers in the NBA Development League. "God said in his word that he would give me the desires of my heart as long as I follow Him.” That is what his father did in coming to the United States almost three decades ago. Now, millions of residents from the country formerly known as Zaire are fleeing because of bloodshed and war crimes, but when Lufile Ehambe made the decision to leave the Congo almost three decades ago, the battle was an internal one. Lufile was raised in a loving home, a Christian home, but after graduating high school, he rebelled against his family and his faith. He turned to witchcraft. He did whatever the witch doctors told him to do, which included drinking perfume. Mental illness, chronic insomnia and cancer followed. With his condition deteriorating, he was taken to the United States for medical attention but was told that little could be done for him. Returning to the Congo, Lufile met a Christian missionary who shared her faith and changed his life. She said not only that he would be healed but also that he needed to go to the United States. "That’s where you’re going to get your ministry,” she said. Soon after that, Lufile became a Christian. His body healed, and his heart felt the call to ministry. The missionary had mentioned a place — Christ for the Nations Institute in Dallas — and he decided that’s where he needed to be. Lufile and his soon-to-be wife, Fariala, left Africa for the United States, seeking a better life. He started classes and worked as a janitor at the school, and she stayed at home with their children. Sarah came first, followed by Moses and three more. The Ehambes lived in a one-bedroom apartment that didn’t always have electricity. Moses remembers times when his mother would light charcoal in an old coffee can to be used for cooking. "But the Lord always provided for us,” he said.