I don’t believe we can ever know for certain what sets a chain of events in motion, at least not this side of seeing the face of God and experiencing an entirely different kind of knowing. A few weeks ago, I posted on two crises that were affecting our community in some way: the precarious state of security the homeless community of Nickelsville was facing, and the state of affairs in Congo. I asked folks if there was some way in which we as Christians are called to respond to such situations and just prayed, because it was the only thing I knew how to do.
Nickelsville found a home for the remainder of the year–not with us, but at University Christian Church in the University District of Seattle. By their Pastor, Dustin Cross’s account, the tents are packed and they’re still turning folks away. As a church, we’ve made the decision to donate funds to provide drinking water, and are hosting a benefit concert for the community on November 15th at Q Cafe, from 7:00-9:00 pm.
Congo is a bit of a different story. Things have gotten worse and in the short run, for the past few hours at least, we have had word that those in Goma are safe for now. There are some steps you can take to be involved in advocating for Congo, as detailed by Lyn Lusi (on the ground in Congo), and Judy Anderson of HEAL Africa below:
Dear Friends of HEAL Africa,
As of Monday the usually guaranteed security of Goma came under attack from rebels allegedly supported by Rwanda. Over 20,000 refugees were forced to flee the camps and are now north of Goma. Food and access to water is a massive issue. The World Food Program can only supply one quarter of the daily survival ration to the people it’s trying to feed.
Widespread looting by bandits and the Congolese army in Goma kept people locked in their homes Tuesday evening through Thursday morning. Over the past two weeks HEAL Africa has treated 40 civilians injured due to the war and 8 came in the last day. Fighting to save their lives requires huge resources. The injured patients have no food and cannot pay for treatment. The army tried to steal the HEAL Africa ambulances, but Dr. Jo Lusi was able to fend them off. All the patients and staff of the hospital are safe, and we have heard from all the mobile teams who were in various parts of the province.This is from Lyn,
Please be reassured for all of us. We have woken up safely. After a night of shooting in the town, all is quiet, and Jo and I and about half the staff are at the hospital. CNDP are outside the town, and they do not want to engage the MONUC – that would be a major diplomatic faux pas. So probably the wisest thing the Congolese army could do was to run away. The shops are mostly intact, thanks to the police patrolling the main streets. Some of the military are coming back into town.
The casualties are many, especially from the populated areas, where most of the looting occurred in private houses. One family near ULPGL lost seven children. The bandits were also out in force, including the ones that come over from Gisenyi
Pray for the family of Mrs Esanga and her family. They are all here in the hospital. All four children were seriously injured and the mother was tortured. They put a grenade under the mattress of the six-year old, where he was sleeping. I went into surgery while Jo and Kimona were repairing the older brother, putting his liver and intestines back. We pray he will survive. Such cruelty is incomprehensible. It has nothing to do with war; it is banditry and terrorism.
Saturday, I am supposed to go to RSA with Dr Likofata and Dr Bitwe for the research training. We will decide on that one tomorrow, after seeing how we get through this night.
With best wishes.
HEAL Africa has always been a haven in times of conflict throughout the last 15 years. As all international aid agencies have evacuated their staff, HEAL Africa is the largest organization giving assistance. None of the other relief organizations are actively working right now, they have all evacuated the town. We need your help to continue to treat people who cannot afford it, especially in this time of war. Please click here toDONATE We need your help to compensate for this tragedy.
Also, please find attached a petition of call to action to sign and pass on. If you have any contacts in government or media, please share the petition with them.
There is now a respite in hostilities as rebel leader, Laurent Nkunda, has agreed to have talks. Goma has slowly come back to life with people timidly walking around outside. The UN is sending envoys both to Rwanda and DR Congo and assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Jendayi Frazer, will be in Kinshasa this weekend. She has stated that Nkunda’s rebels have been using Rwanda as a safe haven.
The conflict is not just a tribal or regional battle. The root lies in access and allocation of DR Congo’s vast natural resources, especially coltan, used in laptop computers and cell phones, where countless multinational companies benefit. There is currently a bill in the US Senate that bans ‘conflict coltan’ from being imported to the US. Click the link http://healafrica.org/cms/files/media/Coltan%20Letter.pdf to send a letter to tell your senator to support the bill.
And above all keep the staff of HEAL Africa, the patients, and the leaders in your prayers,
Peace to all,
A friend asked recently “Do our prayers really matter? Does God hear us, and if He does, why doesn’t He answer?” I sat dumbstruck, not wanting to share a pat answer or nice Christian phrases. I settled on sharing that I know our prayers are heard, and that they are answered. We are not always given answers in this life that are to our liking, but in the ‘kingdom come’, where all things are ‘on earth as they are in heaven’, justice will be done, love will win, and things will be different. Things will be whole, complete. There will be shalom, and our tears will be dried. For now, in our imperfect time of ‘in-between’ the cross and the second coming, how will we participate in bringing about the “Kingdom of Heaven”? A bottle of water in Jesus’ name? Sending in a letter to our congresspeople about the conflict caused by fighting over resources? Can we pray together prayers spoken not only in words but in actions?