UPDATE: This round of peace talks concluded at the end of September with mixed reviews. Comments from M23 and the Ugandan mediator seemed favorable, but towards the end of the month attacks broke out and the same old blame game ensued. But we were blessed to hear from Denis, the DRC Country Director, on October 1 with much more positive news. He just held a graduation ceremony for pastors completing their training in the South Kivu province. Said one of the graduates, "We discovered many things especially our old mistakes done by ignorance and to know how to defend our doctrine as we are surrounded by many religions: Muslims, Bahai, Kibangu, Jehovah Witness and so on."
They had a guest at the celebration, too — the Archbishop Mastajabu. His words encouraged the graduates: "To train one pastor is more important than 100 believers of a church having a pastor not trained and this is the problem we are facing nowadays." He sent this picture of the ceremony.
Africa in the News: Democratic Republic of Congo
Just as the debate about intervention in Syria hinges on the effectiveness of agreements made in peace talks between the United States and Russia, the stability of the Democratic Republic of Congo similarly hinges on the effectiveness of a new round of peace talks between DRC government leaders and M23 rebels.
The Big Picture The DRC has been in varying stages of war since 1996 and has seen an estimated 5.4 million people killed. In April 2012, the situation was further complicated by government forces clashing with a group called M23, a reference to a March 23 agreement that rebels feel has been unfairly disregarded by the government. A mainly Tutsi group (you may recall the Tutsi are the ethnic group that was largely targeted in the Rwandan genocide of 1994), M23's uprising has left hundreds of thousands of Congolese displaced and created communities full of refugees that have witnessed unthinkable crimes.
From Our View The city of Kitchanga knows this story all too well. Fighting here left 200 dead and 570 houses destroyed earlier this year. The city is home to some of African Leadership's Applied Education students, and their teacher, Bulenda Placide, lost his home in the conflict. Country Director Denis Hangi, with the backing of African Leadership, helped Pastor Bulenda rebuild his home, but the larger picture, Denis stressed, is that tribal hatred is resurfacing as a consequence of the ongoing violence.
The outcome of this new round of talks could have a significant effect on our students and teachers across the country. Leading up to September 10, the first day of the peace talks, President Kabila threatened to continue fighting if a deal wasn't made, and rebels staged several attacks in eastern DRC. Please join us in prayer for a successful mediation, a peaceful ceasefire, and true healing for the entire country; the coming days will be very important to the future of peace for Kitchanga and the DRC as a whole.
If the Democratic Republic of Congo is a hard place in which you'd like to serve, African Leadership is currently looking to fund trauma-healing training at the request of Denis for pastors like Bulenda and others in similar situations across the DRC. You can donate to those efforts here.