GOMA, DRC (November 30, 2012) – An urgent call to prayer has been issued in response to violence in the eastern region of Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) near the city of Goma, fighting that has killed many and displaced an estimated 500,000 people, forcing them to flee to refugee camps for safety.
The call for prayer comes from Rev. Jules Mboka, president of the Covenant Church of Congo, which serves in the northwestern region of DRC. Click here to read a previously published story on his installation as CEUM president.
“The recent conflict in eastern DRC saddens our hearts,” he writes today. “Although thus far we have not been directly affected (in our area) further west in Equateur province, it
is difficult (to have) a sense of security in this country where things can change so suddenly. The problems we face appear overwhelming and impossible to resolve. But we know that God has the final say. And our God is able to do above and beyond all we ask or think.”
Goma has been at the center of conflict that some suggest centers around a desire to control this mineral-rich region of the country, with rebel forces – known as M23 – battling government troops for control. Rebels, who deserted the Congo army in April, gained control of Goma last week, but efforts are under way to persuade rebel forces to withdraw from the city.
A contingent of police has arrived by boat, but United Nations sources say the officers have yet to deploy as rebel forces have not yet withdrawn.
A Catholic aid agency spokesperson, who visited Goma on Friday, reported food is scarce and that residents are frightened and remain in their homes. “Yesterday and today, there’s been a lot of looting in town, people are seeing their cars being taken, and armed people [are] visiting houses asking for money,” he told the BBC news agency.
The United Nations has warned of a growing humanitarian crisis in the region because of the recent fighting.
HEAL Africa, a ministry partner with the Evangelical Covenant Church in Goma, continues to treat wounded victims of the conflict. Even if all the rebels leave the city, the future remains precarious, said Judy Anderson, a member of Monroe Covenant Church in Monroe, Washington, and executive director of HEAL Africa in the United States.
“As long as militias and militaries vie with each other for land, and there is no clear outcome or negotiated settlement, the displaced people have little hope of returning home in the near future,” she wrote on the organization’s website today. “In the wake of the chaos and confusion as to who is in charge, the poor and vulnerable are suffering and at risk.
“The commitment of those who are trying to provide help to the vulnerable in the face of crisis remains both difficult and dangerous. The eastern Congolese community faces uncertainty with each day, not knowing who is in charge or when life will return to any normal rhythm.”
“We believe that God will move powerfully to bring peace that will glorify his name, and all of our churches are praying to this end,” Mboka said.
Mboka asks Covenanters and others worldwide to join with the Congolese pastors and leaders in a special day of prayer tomorrow (Saturday), December 1. Congo pastors will be focusing their prayer time between the hours of 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. Congo time.
“Get up early in the morning and join us across the miles as we press in and claim his (God’s) victory over this situation,” he requested.
Mboka specifically suggests prayer in these areas:
- That the people of God would humble themselves and with a pure heart believe God for the victory already won.
- That we would claim his authority through the power of the Holy Spirit to come against sin and the schemes of the devil so that our land may be healed.
- That nothing would hinder the ministry of the church and that we would move boldly forward with the launch of the Covenant Kids Congo Ledia Program.
“As my friend, World Vision national director Bob Kisyula reminds us, whether it is in Goma or Gemena, it is the children who suffer most from conflict and poverty,” Mboka writes. “No matter the difficulty, we must remain steadfast in our commitment and redouble our efforts to minister to these children as our Lord has commanded us.”