What's worse than chaos? Silence.

7/12/2013 05:37:00 PM sendtheroths 1 Comments

Do you know what it feels like to see an entire community disintegrate before your eyes? I know now. I will tell you.

“Is it okay to dig for water?” I asked. We were given a 3-acre plot of land in Kibati, a village located less than 10 kilometers north of Goma (the city we live in). It was the easiest gift we’ve gotten in Congo. The plot literally just fell in our lap.

"If we dig for water, we will get fire." said the people of the village.

This is due to the location of the village and its nearness to the Nyiragongo volcano.

We've had families live on our land when M23 and other rebel groups turned Kibati into an Internally Displaced People camp with 50,000 people.

I remember when we did an outreach in the camp. Literally, thousands gathered to hear the word of God and sing songs. It was the least that we could do.

Now, Kibati is a desolate place.

Reports do not make it further than the local news in Goma about various rebel groups fighting for this strategically located village next to Goma. The IDPs (literally refugees in their own country) have scattered all across Goma, just living on the street, in shops, churches and hospitals.

It behooves me that when I search the internet for the situation in Kibati, the only reports I get are from 2012 when a number of large aid organizations were supplying water and relief to the old camps.

Those camps are no more. The aid organizations are no longer there. There’s no incentive to tell donors about Kibati’s suffering, because donors just don’t want to hear it anymore and therefore, there is no press.

This is the case for so many villages.

We have seen this village literally disintegrate before our eyes.

We plan to start a Training Center there in the next year and have wanted to gain a better relationship with the people. So, ourselves and our disciples have spent multiple days a week in the village making relationship with the people for several months now.

But what’s worse than chaos?

Silence. Complete silence.

No movement and hardly any people. Just tanks, soldiers and heavy artillery. Waiting.

We found malnourished ladies, with many children living in schools and health centers. We found old people who couldn’t find the strength to leave. We found people who just have nowhere else to go and are tired of running.

Our last visit on Tuesday was limited to the ‘buffer zone’, which had grown so small that we couldn’t walk more than 70 meters without being surrounded by M23 soldiers. In fact, when one of our team members walked as far as the community soccer field, soldiers began to emerge from the woods around her and the Congolese. They had to get out of there fast. 

It's not uncommon for us to fit ten people into our
Toyota 4Runner and drive through some of the most
uncomfortable roads. 
The school where desperate people lived on straw mats and the health center with no medicine were completely abandoned. Faded stamps and stickers with the logos of prominent aid organizations remained on the walls of buildings that are now boarded up... a reminder that the world once cared about this village, but now disillusioned with the cycle of war going through it.

The few people we found were packing their things to leave.

Weak old people struggled to get their belongings on their back and carry themselves into the unknown…

People, especially the ones that knew us from previous trips were afraid for our lives.

“You should really go. It’s not safe here for you. It’s not safe here for any of us. They are watching all of us.”

We did what we could to help the last wave of people pack their things and leave their village.

Afterward, our team faced north toward the rebel camp and began to sing praise. The Congolese began to sing songs over Kibati and we prayed and interceded, singing songs of peace, joy and love over the village.

So there we were, praising God in the middle of a buffer zone between tanks and armored vehicles.

That night, the village underwent heavy fire between two rebel groups.

Kibati was a vibrant and lively village full of children, commerce and culture.

Today, it’s nothing but armored vehicles. Our land has been used as a campground for rebel groups.

“How does your heart feel?” I asked our Congolese disciples.

 “Bitter,” they said “so, bitter.”

We often try to create a relationship with the people that we
want to work with by simply doing life with them. The
village of Kibati has many Bakumu people who eat beans
almost everyday. We've harvested, planted and cooked
beans with them on multiple occasions.
The Congolese from our Training Center have come up with a plan to aid the people who have fled their village. This plan involves finding generous people in their own city who will donate basic medication. In addition, they are giving their own clothes to the people. Andrew and I have told them that anything that they raise, we will match it and double it.

The brokenness and injustice incurred upon the village of Kibati is unreal. But the courage and the commitment of our Congolese disciples to go there and sing over the desolate village, giving of their own time, money and resources is beautiful.

It gives me so much hope for this nation.

1 comment :

  1. Friends, I was just thinking of you two tonight as I drove home in the silent summer night air of KC. Your hearts to follow this Son of Man who will bring redemption and restoration to Kibati is beautiful--challenging and stirring and encouraging. May your hearts take courage and may your feet continue to bring the Good News as our God continues to bring you into deeper relationship with Himself and His Body there, those disciples and those soon to be! Love from KC--Justin