Democratic Republic of Congo
The Democratic Republic of Congo’s greatest blessing is also its greatest curse. It is the home front of the conflict mineral wars. The Congolese have witnessed some of the worst crimes against humanity including greed, corruption, internal displacement, recruitment of child soldiers, ethnic hatred, mass rape and mutilation.
Whatever is happening physically is a result of what is happening spiritually. Therefore, prayer is foundational to bring about a lasting change to the DRC: forgiveness, unity, peace, healing and restoration.
Discipleship and Pastor Training
When indigenous pastors have a solid Biblical foundation, they have the confidence to launch indigenous church planting movements. Discipling rural pastors is the backbone to advancing the Kingdom of God throughout all of Africa.
Orphans and Child Soldiers
The orphan crisis in the Democratic Republic of Congo is unlike any other in Africa. Orphans are often neglected by family members, then being forced to fend for themselves. Rebel militias are all too eager to recruit child soldiers, even as young as eight years old. Our goal is to reach them first or find and rehabilitate them.
Friday, November 29, 2013
A section of the Vision Book that the Peacemakers in our program are making is titled 'Truth and Lies'.
The kids are instructed to divide one page of their book in half and think about the negative things that people have spoken over them and what they have said about themselves.
|"I am evil like Satan" Mkubwa wrote under the lies section of|
his book. "I am a Peacemaker" under the truth section of
We ask them if these words are making them into a better person, how those words make them feel and if they believe God thinks the same way. We are slowly trying to teach them about the character of God as not being condemner but a redeemer.
The children write the lies that are spoken over them on one side of the paper. And on the other side to write the Truth about themselves.
In one village, while this was being taught, the mother of one child came to the little shack that we were teaching in.
“He’s a Kadogo! All he does is fight, he’s just going to kill us all.”
He put his hands on his head and looked down.
"Look what this woman is saying about me," he said, continuing to mutter things that I need not repeat on this blog.
Andrew and the team told him that this is an example of what he's learning right now.
"It's a lie," said Andrew, "now put what we are talking about into practice and say what you want to be."
Andrew put the pencils back into Mkubwa's hand.
"Write down what she's saying... Now, write what you are. YOU ARE A CHILD OF GOD. A CHILD OF PEACE."
The mother was settled down and Mkubwa continued working on his Vision Book.
I can't say that there's been a happy ending to Mkubwa's story, except that Andrew and the team sat with him for 'processing' this week. He listened intently and even prayed with the group. Mkubwa is a Muslim and he's not ready to become a follower of Christ yet.
He is just one of the many boys in our program who are facing extremely harsh conditions in his home, his society and within himself.
We are learning from social workers and child protection professionals how we can better help boys like Mkubwa by bringing reconciliation inside of himself as well as with him and his community. Terminologies like case management and community based mechanisms aren't so spiritual but they are necessary in making lasting transformation.
Wednesday, November 20, 2013
|Each kid in the program created their own book, which walked|
them through positive and negative memories, heroes in their
life, obstacles in their life and goals for their future.
Heroism. What is a hero? What makes a hero?
Memories. What are some of your favorite memories? What are some memories you don’t like?
Vision/Dreams. What would you like to see in the future? How do you want to interact with other people in your community?
Planning. Where would you like to see yourself in 1 years, 5 years and even 10 years?
Despite our teams obstacles such as logistics, contextualization, and limited supplies—we saw that this project was worth its weight in gold.
At one point while we were teaching in a small wooden room, rebels began to fight with each other and began shooting. It was a small incident that reminded all of us (the boys included) of the bad memories and upcoming obstacles they face, which many visualized by drawing pictures of AK-47’s in their books.
|It was the first time for some of the boys in our program to|
ever hold a writing utensil in their entire lives.
Again, this reminded of us of how important it is to build the Training Center quickly. We sent half of the boys to school this year, but we hope to offer basic literacy and mathematics to the others who are not able enter into school because they are too far behind.
The team returns to Masisi this week to begin ‘processing’ through the books with the boys. It’s an opportunity for the boys to gather in very small groups and share their book with peers and their caretakers. This exercise is completely voluntarily. We always tell the boys that they don’t have to share if they don’t want to.
|This 10-year-old Peacemaker drew a school under the goals|
section of the book. He wrote "I will build schools in my
village called Bukombo and when I am old, people will come
to me for advice.
We need your prayers.
Most of what we are doing is a completely new concept in the areas that we work. They aren’t used to foreigners (from Goma or from other countries) doing mentorship, discipleship and relationship-building. They are used to instant relief, because of how long the war has continued in this area. This creates a mentality of ‘get as much as I can when I can out of them’. This can be emotionally draining on us and our staff, as we empty not only our pockets but our hearts and lives.
Our work is fragile, because the people we serve are fragile and our ability to relate to them can also be fragile. Here are some things to keep lifted up as the team goes to Masisi for ‘processing’.
- Pray that every child will come into a personal relationship with Jesus.
- Pray for the souls of the caretakers and for grace to train them well.
- Pray for our vehicle and safety on the road.
- Pray for peace and love to abide in the heart of every child we work with.
- Pray for the Masisi Training Center to be built. We still need an extra $3,500 for it.
|"We were worried that the older boys would think that this|
project was stupid and not want to participate. But in fact,
they were the most attentive," said Ellee Best.
Monday, November 4, 2013
We travelled to Masisi with a team from Encounter Church of Orlando, Fla. to play soccer (aka the rest of the world's 'football') with the boys in our Peacemaker Program, which reintegrates former child soldiers back into their local communities. Through games like soccer and other activities we teach about life skills such as teamwork and responsibility. Soccer is especially useful for demonstrating the redemptive illustrations of Jesus.
|Elijah (center) with some of our peacemakers.|
Managing 100 kids in any setting can be daunting regardless of language barriers and given the background of these kids. Nonetheless, once we divided into three small sided games everything got rolling.
Including the thunder!
Right as we started a storm rolled in - rain, torrential rain, then thunder and lightning… It reminded me of when I played soccer in the rain as a young boy growing up in southern Wisconsin. It rained and rained then rained some more! The field turned to mud and in the end turned into seemingly a marshy lake. But that didn't deter anyone's determination to play.
|Ministry and worship after the soccer match.|
After the fountains of the deep and the floodgates of the sky were closed and the rain from the sky was restrained and the water receded steadily from the earth, Elijah shared his message. He shared about the importance of Biblical love by explaining that, like in football, we need each other in order to function. Moreover, we are a body of different parts working together to accomplish one unified goal.
We sang worship songs and prayed for each other and then sent the boys back to their homes.
"You really are missionaries!" Mukwenderlwa, one of the caretakers in our program exclaimed as he observed our completely drenched clothes. Amethyst and Ellee, the only women there sat on the sidelines shivering as they protected phones, jackets and other items that the boys gave them to hide from the rain.
This whole experience gave us two take away points.
One, jokingly all of us mentioned that we got to check off our bucket list, playing soccer with former child soldiers in eastern Congo's worst torrential down-pour ever. But more importantly, despite the situation, take every opportunity and make the best of it. Never withhold anything because 100% of shots you don't take, don't go in the net.
How true for us, if we're not willing to sacrifice and make opportunities to minister, there will be no ministry.
|Shoot out time!|
Tuesday, October 22, 2013
Sunday, October 20, 2013
Alain and his family witnessed some of the greatest atrocities known to mankind when he and his family saw his village raided and destroyed. He was just a boy at that time.
|Alain is on staff with Global Outreach|
Foundation Congo. He speaks six
languages and has a bachelors degree
in international development.
This was done by a predominantly Tutsi rebel group. Tutsis are the tribe from Congo’s neighbor, Rwanda who are most commonly known for the being the victims of genocide in 1994. It’s hard for Alain to see this group as a victim to anything after witnessing atrocities like the one stated above. They danced and sang their indigenous dances and sang their indigenous songs as they tore his village apart.
Today, Alain’s village is no more. It’s just a memory. The war has destroyed everything.
The tribe that committed the atrocities against Alain’s community sits in the seat of power in Rwanda, a country that is growing economically and developmentally. Alain’s traumatizing memories and displacement from his home territory has brought his family to the city of Goma—between two worlds.
The world that was once ‘home’ but is now the home to violence, corporate greed, ethnic hatred and political strife. And just across the border, ‘oppressors’ use the Genocide to attract worldwide sympathy and aid to the country while making alleged backdoor deals to fund proxy wars in eastern Congo that has lead to more than 6 million deaths in the past fifteen years.
|Alain is sitting with Nick Stevens,|
a summer intern with Global Outreach
If anyone out there is reading this and thinks that they have a nice clean scriptural answer for him--- I’m going to call your B.S. card.
There is no easy answer to what Alain faces everyday as a Christian, a young person in Congo and a leader in Global Outreach Foundation Congo.
He is a hero. And by God’s grace, it’s our honor to love and encourage him through his journey to complete forgiveness and healing.
A weekend ago, we helped him walk through a new door in his journey. We partnered with our friends at HOPE+ Africa to have Alain stay with them in Kigali, the capital city of Rwanda for a few days. It was Alain’s first time to see a capital city. It was Alain’s first time to see a metropolitan area. It was Alain’s first time to be around so many people from the tribe, who destroyed his village.
|Alain is currently leading the GOF-C|
committee to translate all level 1
leadership-training from French to Swahili.
Alain knew that you cannot generalize all people based on their ethnic background before his trip to Kigali with us. But I believe that this trip was a part of the deep inner healing that God is doing inside of him. This trip allowed him to make good memories with a people group that he otherwise had horrible memories with. This interaction is so key to inner healing and reconciliation.
On the way home Alain recognized the dangers in isolating himself from the ethnic groups that have wronged his family, his village and his country.
“We need to understand that we are all human.” He said. “God’s creation. Meeting the kind of people that I have met and having the opportunity to see things from another perspective reminds me that 1.) There are good people here who fear God and don’t deserve to be classified with their country’s shortcomings. 2.) We are all human and we all just want to protect ourselves.”
We love Alain so much and are honored to have him as a staff member and disciple of Global Outreach Foundation Congo.