WARNING Difficult Story Material
Samuel* runs from murderous armed bandits who are ransacking his village raping women, stealing anything of value, and forcing the men of his village who can't get away to join their militia. Samuel manages to hide in the jungle but a day later gets sick and within the week he dies of dysentery.
Armed militants invade Mani's* village. Horrified, he witnesses his father's murder and mother's rape. His younger brothers and sisters sit on the side of the house crying over the bodies. Mani is forced to join the militia and is marched off into the jungle toward the next village as his training to become a killer begins.
You find yourself sitting with the survivors of this genocide desiring to tell them that God loves them... What does that even mean to people who have witnesses and experienced so much. Words, so easy to speak and so hard to follow up. Looking deep into the eyes of those you talk to you experience a depth of hopelessness you never imagined. You feel the weight of emptiness and hollowness of a soul. A forgotten people, a story of genocide untold, a people brought to the brink and left for dead. Again, God loves them but what does that look like?
The gospel's words aren't enough, more is demanded. A holistic gospel. I remember the words of Jesus, "as you go preaching, heal the sick, feed the poor, raise dead... incarnational (I am the church), holistic ministry (word and deed).
All gospel work here demands holistic approaches that attend to the heart's emotional pain, the mind's intellectual growth, the physical life challenges, and the spiritual longings.
Over the past decade hundreds of thousands of women** and girls have been raped in the DRC. Women were raped with such brutality that tens of thousands required corrective surgeries. More than five million in DR Congo were either murdered or died from lack of medicine or food as armies from eight surrounding countries plundered DR Congo's natural resources. While Rwanda was a known atrocity the DR Congo was at lest five times greater and not even mentioned in the press.
Kelynna* was one who was raped resulting in a child, relegated to a life of prostitution, poverty and social humiliation.
But today, hope is alive as one of Congo Iniative's six foci, the center for holistic family development works with women rebuilding their lives through counseling, income development, discipleship, and fellowship and community. Today Kelynna is healing and has a small business selling soap and hand crafts. She is learning English and her children are attending a primary school thanks for the Congo Initiative.
After the many trips in and out of DR Congo I find myself back on the plane processing as I heading back to tell the stories and help those interested parties connect to this strategic partner. How do I tell the stores of new hope? How do I... stop weeping? Brokenness is part of my routine. Heaviness, morning, God help us be attentive to your plans for the people of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Pray for the Congo Initiative. Pray for this land. Recent elections have the potential to set this country on a new course. Won’t you pray?
*Based on true stories but names have been changed
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