Saturday, June 9, 2012
Congo Journal 16
Ten Leaders You Need to Know
Last November, all the ingredients for a major conflict were in place in Eastern Congo. A presidential election pitted tribes against tribes, brothers against brothers. Young people in villages planted flags of their preferred candidate in front of their houses and fought with those who planted flags for the opposition. The candidates publicly insulted one another as if intentionally inciting hostility. In all spheres of civil society, people were preparing for far-reaching violence.
In the face of similar threats in the past, many church leaders behaved as helpless bystanders, at best; at worst, they reinforced violence with their acceptance of tribal and denominational divisions. But last November, local church pastors said, "God is able to bring peace through the Prince of Peace. Let us take this election before God." They chose one day to be a day of prayer in all the churches in the region. They fasted and prayed, asking that the potential conflict would be broken by the Lord.
The election came and there was no violence.
This is obviously a story of prayer. But it is much more than that.
Several years ago, World Relief Congo staff began an intentional program of reconciliation between churches. Through Bible study, discipleship, challenge and encouragement, local pastors began to understand the biblical mandate of peace building and reconciliation.
Last night the Ten for Congo team met with ten leaders of a local church network that has brought all the churches in the region—from ten different denominations—into a relationship of trust and cooperation. Under the leadership of these ten local leaders, churches work together to determine the neediest people in their communities. Then, together, they serve these widows, orphans, or women who have been raped. Some of the people they serve are members of their churches; many of them aren't. The pastors have become convinced that their calling is to " take care of suffering people until Jesus comes."