Lectionary Selection: Matthew 23:1-12
Prayers for the Democratic Republic of Congo:
God of Love, God of Life
We first want to remind ourselves of your presence, your love, and praise you for the many signs of hope.
In this year of the pandemic is also the 60th anniversary of the independence of the Democratic Republic of Congo. A strange year to celebrate. The struggle for independence and self-determination is a source of pride, but there is still a long way until the people benefit from the rich natural resources of this beautiful country.
The pandemic has not helped. The fragile economy has gotten worse and there are fears of food shortage in many parts of the country. The conflicts in the East of Congo continue with thousands of civilian deaths and hundreds of thousands driven from their homes.
During the pandemic, the sentiment of corruption is also on the rise. It becomes evident that self-interest has become the guide of most politicians even though such slogans as “the Congolese people first” and “never betray the Congolese people “are the norm." You can almost hear Jesus admonishing the Scribes and the Pharisees “They preach and do not practice.”
There are so many reasons to doubt and be discouraged, but Your Spirit inspires acts of faith in Justice, Truth, Reason, Beauty, and Life.
Help us to build grassroots peace from the bottom up with justice. Too many war crimes, many with implications of neighboring countries have gone unpunished.
Your Spirit inspires Hope. Hope like an “anchor for the soul, firm and secure” that keeps us from drifting in the storms. (Hebrew 6:19)
We ask you Lord to help guide the Church of Christ in Congo in its quest for free, fair, and credible elections. We need your guidance so that the service projects of the Church can better offer hope to the most vulnerable.
Your Spirit inspires Love. There is one Father and we are all brothers and sisters. Christ is our teacher.
Your Love transcends all frontiers, all languages, all tribes, and regions. By your grace, help the Congolese population to overcome the divisions that fragilize the nation and are sources of conflict.
Dear God, hear our prayers. Those that we speak, those that we dream, and those that we feel.
Mission Stewardship Moment from the Democratic Republic of Congo:
Since the first protestant missions in Congo, the Church has been engaged in sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ and in trying to find ways of making the promise of the Good News of Jesus Christ concrete and tangible. Building hospitals and schools and trying to help the most vulnerable has long been a priority and the Church of Christ of Congo has continued to develop service projects for the poor, the victims of injustice, and the excluded of the society.
After two years of reflection and debates, the Church of Christ of Congo has decided to take a new step in organizing and developing service projects. Since July, the President of the Church of Christ in Congo has asked me to help with the organization of a new structure in service to the Church called, the Protestant Service of Development and Diaconia (SEPRODDIA in French). The goal of SEPPRODIA is to better help the Congolese population with concrete actions to help build hope.
Nine different directions are grouped together in one structure. The directions are remarkably diverse and reflect what is at stake in the Congolese society: agriculture, job training, microfinance - support for families, architecture, and infrastructure that includes a project of transforming plastic waste and installing water pumps and finding energy alternatives, environment with advocacy to protect the rain forest and plant trees for its renewal, help for refugees and uprooted people, emergency relief, work with the most vulnerable and, finally, work in transforming harmful masculinities to reduce violence against women.
Some of the projects are already on a national level such as help for refugees and the protection of the rain forest. Other projects need to be developed in different provinces. Our hope is to capitalize on different experiences that work and try to adapt them to develop other projects. I will be going with a co-worker to visit the 11 different ecclesial provinces to analyze the needs and the means necessary. Each day has its challenges, but it is encouraging to see the determination of the Church to help the Congolese to get out of poverty and despair. Some actions inspire hope such as the mobilization of 900 volunteers from local churches last weekend to help clean the plastic bottles from the sewage system. Other actions less visible such as work with orphans and the persons living with handicaps. It is an important part of the work of the Church to be present with those who are the most marginalized, not only to reduce poverty but to share God’s love.
Prayer and Mission Moment by Bryan Parrish
Mission Partners in the Democratic Republic of Congo: