Mending the Soul – D.R. Congo Trip Report

November 6th, 2014

Last summer Annie and I had the incredible opportunity to travel to Goma in the D.R. Congo to work with a ministry called Mending the Soul. During this specific trip they were putting on a series of workshops focused on healing from sexual and violent trauma, something that the vast majority of people in the D.R. Congo have to deal with due to the ongoing war and the prevalence of sexual violence that they face everyday. During the trip they put on a conference specifically focused towards prostitutes in town and it was amazing to see the number of people who were touched by the work that they were doing. Here’s a trip-report video we put together for them to use to share with their supporters back state-side after the trip…please take a second to check it out and more to come on Mending the Soul soon:

Mending the Soul – Summer 2013 Trip Report from Bedouins International on Vimeo.

Manila, Philippines—TSC

September 13th, 2013

We’re so excited to be here in Manila, the Philippines working on a project for Times Square Church! We’re spending our week documenting the work of the local church within the poor communities of Manila. So far we’ve spent time at free medical clinics to the poor, a feeding program for the children and at several small groups and services of the local church. It’s been a super busy and action packed trip and we’ll be sure to post more details soon…for now here are some pics from the last few days in Manila!

Goodbye Goma

July 25th, 2013

After a great (but very intense) week in Goma with Mending the Soul, we’re back in Rwanda for the evening and reflecting on our time in the DR Congo. We heard some really incredible stories, captured tons of photos and video and can’t wait to share them all with you. But for now we’re heading to Kenya for a much needed time of R&R…we’ll be back soon with more stories from the DRC!

Goma Update: Hope for Healing

July 22nd, 2013

This statue stands on the university compound that has graciously hosted us these past 6 days. Some of the pastors showed it to us on our first day here, explaining that it servers as a symbol of the situation in the eastern Congo. It depicts the region and it’s people as a woman as she is trampled by the militarized, faceless boots of war, violence, and oppression. Behind her stands the lamb, pointing to God’s ongoing watchfulness during a time of turbulence. Next to the statue we included a picture of some of the girls who helped care for their younger siblings while their mothers attended Mending the Souls Conference for caregivers to prostituted women. They are among Goma’s most vulnerable, yet their smiles, their care for their brothers and sisters, and their mother’s attention to the emotional needs of their community points to the hope that pervades all of the trauma and crisis that the eastern Congo has faced for nearly a generation.

There is no accounting for or summarizing the situation here. In interviews we’ve done, each person has discussed a different faucet of the conflict, and a different reason it continues to affect their lives. One woman captured what makes Mending the Soul’s work so meaningful, explaining that while other groups bring food and water, attending to those material needs does not help them emotionally. “They don’t care about the heart,” she said.  What they really need, she explained, is hope for their lives.

We’ve had the opportunity to speak with several of the Congolese pastors and a number of women working in counseling to support those traumatized by the war here. One of the American women on the Mending the Soul team emphasized what an encouragement and lesson in humility the faith of these leaders here has been. Yesterday, our group participated in church services in English, French, and Swahili—all proclaiming providence over the circumstances in Goma and praising God—a testimony of hope that defies earthly understanding.

Hello from Goma

July 20th, 2013

Today marks the halfway point of our trip to Goma, a city on the eastern border of the Democratic Republic of Congo. The eastern DR Congo is among the most war-torn geographies in the world. As I sat to write this, two UN helicopters flew overhead on their way back from the battlefront about 12 km away, where the Congolese military and rebel militias are fighting. This is the first UN military offensive of its kind in the organization’s 65 year history.

In an interview earlier this week, the president of the Baptist denomination in eastern Congo called the region a “black spot on the map of the world.” One does not hear a great deal about the DR Congo in the news. The five million people who have died here in the last 19 years and the mourning of the region over that loss goes largely unnoticed by the rest of the world. For Stephen and me, it is probably the most hurting and broken place we have traveled to.

That said, our experience with the pastors here in Goma, and the partnership we have seen them form with Mending the Soul (MTS) shines beams of light into so much darkness. Over the last four days, we have helped MTS document a series of conferences related to sexual violence, its causes, and the healing God offers. There are four conferences in total, targeting prostituted women, the caregivers for those women, church youth leaders, and pastors. So far, we have watched a church full of about 300 prostituted women hear the story of how Christ can heal the wounds created by sexual abuse, we have watched as Congolese caregivers sit down to pray with and counsel these hurting women. Today, they are conducting the first conference for youth workers, where high school and college students are discussing questions about gender equality, sexual abuse, pornography, and homosexuality. These church leaders’ passion for bringing a biblical model of emotional health and wellbeing to their congregations is exemplary. As one of the pastors told us, the story of healing that MTS teaches through their curriculum, “is a living Bible.”

Here is a sample of what we’ve seen so far. Please pray for peace and restoration in Goma and the rest of the eastern Congo.

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