Pray with the Democratic Republic of the Congo, October 17, 2021
Lectionary Selection: Mark 10: 35-45
Prayers for the Democratic Republic of the Congo
James and John, the sons of Zebedee, have long been criticized starting with the other ten disciples. Their clumsy request for the best seats in the house does not go over well. Their request also raises so many questions on power, fear, desire, and jealousy. If we look closely, their demand does not seem as bad as we first thought. It must have taken a lot of courage to go to Jesus to express their desire to be a part of the new life in Christ. Remember in Matthew, it was their mother who asked Jesus for them! The problem is that it seems to be in their own interest, and not for the glory of God.
Jesus starts the conversation with the simple question, “What do you want me to do for you?”
Jesus does not condemn them. He just wants James and John, and all of us, to think deeply of what we ask of Christ. What are our motivations and what is the meaning of true greatness?
Loving God with us,
Help us not to privilege our own agendas,
In our weakness, we want places of honor and glory.
We want to be first.
Forgive our self-importance and remind us the all glory goes to God.
With the Church of Christ in Congo, we pray for all the families who have been victims, both civilian and military, of the atrocities committed in the East of the DRC. (according to the UNHCR, 1200 civilians have been massacred and 1100 women raped so far in 2021 in the provinces of North Kivu and Ituri)
Concerned at the highest level by killings, displacement of the population, the presence of several unidentified armed groups, the destruction of places of worship, and the murder of some religious, schools, and health facilities, we pray that peace with justice may come to the people who have suffered for so many years.
We pray for the most vulnerable, who are the hardest hit by the economic crises.
We pray for the victims of the eruption of the volcano who are still without homes.
We pray for the refugees in the Equateur province that are fleeing the conflict in Central Africa.
We pray for the victims of flooding on the Zongo river.
We pray for credible, transparent, and peaceful elections in 2023 with a long-awaited democratic process finally restored;
May the Lord God bless the DRC,
May the Lord God bless the Congolese people,
May the Lord God bless the ECC!
(excerpt of the declaration at the end of the annual board meeting in May)
Lord Jesus Christ,
you know us, you love us, you transform our lives
and you call us to follow your example.
O Christ, you are a servant of all.
Help us learn to be humble.
Help us to be more like you.
Mission Stewardship Moment from the Democratic Republic of the Congo
My activity as a mission co-worker is with the Church of Christ in Congo to help start the Protestant Service of Développement and Diakonia or SEPRODDIA. I also try to invest my time with the Disciples of Christ in the different congregations and I also have spent time in the headquarters in Mbandaka.
A few weeks ago in my local Disciples congregation, we had a special treat. A choir of persons deaf and mute came to “sing” the glory of God in sign language. They are able to stay synchronized by the vibrations of the drum. They sang “He is wonderful.” And it was just wonderful. One word comes to mind: resilience. A resilience that is rooted in the strong ecumenical faith.
In the DRC, it sometimes seems as though one crisis chases another. The quick response of Global Ministries helped to bring emergency relief to more than 100 families in the region of Goma after the eruption of the Nyirangongo volcano. Since May, SEPRODDIA has been working with local churches to send relief for the refugees from Central Africa that have arrived in the Province of Equateur. Flooding of the Zongo river has also left thousands without shelter. The pollution of the Kasai River with industrial waste has poisoned the fish which is the principal source of water and nutrition in the area. We are looking for ways to better protect the environment but also help the families who suffer consequently.
SEPRODDIA develops multiple projects to try to find ways for the most vulnerable to climb out of poverty. In the last few months, we have been trying to modernize our equipment for the transformation of plastic waste into economic opportunities. With a new machine to shred the plastic bottles and an oven to better transform the plastic, we will be able to create 30% more jobs. We are also looking into a partnership with a Canadian company that could buy the plastic that we can not use. With more than 3000 tons of plastic waste daily in the streets of Kinshasa, there is a lot to be done. We recently built our first house out of bricks made from recycled plastic and also a new courtyard in the Bokeale school with cobblestones made from recycling. Agriculture projects are also a priority. We are hoping to develop an educational farm for orphans, but in the future for unemployed youth, women, and persons living with handicaps.
Another one of our priorities is the prevention of domestic violence. Rates of Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) perpetrated by men against their female partners in the DRC are among the highest in the world. Both men and women report high levels of exposure to violence or lifelong experiences of sexual and physical violence that are both conflict-related and non-conflict-related. In a country of nearly 80 million people, more than 1.7 million women reported being raped in their lifetime and more than 3 million reported IPV. Other indicators of gender inequality include a high rate of child marriage, high maternal mortality, and a low contraceptive prevalence rate (TPC).
For the last three years, ECC and now SEPRODDIA have organized an experimental program called Masculinity Family and Faith. The goal of the program is to train church leaders and “gender champions” to better influence positive masculinity, help planned parenthood, and prevention of AIDS. In 24 congregations, 118 church leaders, 89 gender champions, and 929 couples were trained to combat domestic violence in the workshops and the results have been remarkable. Conferences and radio spots are also used to raise consciousness. Our hope is to develop this activity in other provinces and create a permanent direction of gender equality, family planning, and the prevention of violence against women.
Even though the Church of Christ in Congo and SEPRODDIA try to find ways of self-funding, the help and support of Global Ministries and other partners is precious and an encouragement. It is a sign of hope when Christian solidarity transcends all borders.
Prayer and Mission Moment by Bryan Parrish
Mission Partners in the Democratic Republic of Congo
- Church of Christ in Congo
- Congo Protestant University – Kinshasa
- Community of Disciples of Christ in Congo
Global Ministries Mission Co-worker in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
Bryan Parrish serves with the Church of Christ in Congo. His appointment is made possible by your gifts to Disciples Mission Fund, Our Church’s Wider Mission, and your special gifts.