Hello from Goma
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.