Congo-Kinshasa (MNN) — Months ago, a seminary was attacked and burned to the ground by Muslim extremists in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
"When the war broke out and the rebels were trying to take over the country, they came into the existing seminary. They stole everything that was of any value to them, and they burned the rest," Christian Resources International's John Lowrey reflects. "The university was destroyed, the library was destroyed, all the books were burned–they were just left with nothing."
Mission Network News reported on that back in April. Since then, CRI has been working tirelessly to collect the thousands of books necessary to rebuild the seminary's library, a necessity not only for the school to turn out well-trained pastors, but to even apply for re-accreditation.
Over the summer, CRI went on a number of Road Trips across the United States collecting theological books and guides and raising awareness for this serious need. The ministry was even able to travel from their home base in Michigan to Washington state to visit a Congolese pastor who, after fleeing to the States as a refugee, will soon be risking his life to return to Congo and work at the seminary.
Unfortunately, the summer has now come and gone, and CRI still does not have all they need to fill the 30,000 volume container they hope to send within the next six to seven weeks. The ministry has enough books to fill the container, but some books are being replaced by those that would be better suited for a seminary. Plus, CRI's just trying to pack the container as full as possible to help train as many Christian leaders as possible.
"We really believe that the only way that [Congo] will ever see a stable government, and a good economy, and all the things that are an evidence of God's blessing is if God is restored as the One the people look to."
Lowrey adds, "By getting the university established, by getting the seminary established, getting the pastors trained, and taught, and out into the countryside, seeing people converted to Christ–that's ultimately going to be what truly will bring hope to that country, where Christ will be the center of things and people will begin to look to God again."
At this point, the ministry needs all sorts of books, especially in French. "[The seminary is] looking specifically for pastoral training kinds of books and materials. So the commentaries, and the Bible study helps, and the language studies (the Greek and Hebrew), and all the kinds of things that would be good for a seminary to train pastors, teachers, leaders–that's really the key that they need to fill their library."
There are other needs, as well. The shipping is also incredibly complicated. Particularly since the infrastructure in Congo has become notoriously unreliable, trekking the crate across the large country from the western entrance to the seminary on the eastern border involves a high level of risk. As a result, CRI has decided to ship the container through Tanzania and across Lake Tanganyika. This shipping method is much safer and certainly decreases the possibility that the container will be attacked by extremists, but it is also much more expensive. To help with the shipping costs, click here.
It will be a difficult feat, but at the end of the day, CRI is excited to help in an effort to spread God's Word. "How can you turn the people down? They're willing to put their life at risk to go in and work at this seminary," says Lowrey. "Certainly, the least CRI can do is to gather some books and some bucks, and help make this thing happen."