Congo (MNN) — Renewed fighting in East Congo reveals a
shattered peace accord only three months old. Rebel and militia groups are clashing regularly and looting villages
north of the capital city of Goma.
Grace Ministries International's Sam Vinton confirms that
the trouble hampers both relief effort and evangelism. The
United Nations has suspended their relief programs because rebels threatened
refugee camps and food operations.
Word from their partners say church work has come to a
standstill in some areas. "People do not feel secure to
travel. In the city itself at night,
it's very problematic because no one really knows who is the real thief and
who is not a thief but really a soldier, and they have arms."
The violence has created a large wave of refugees. Fighting in Kivu has now displaced almost
900,000 people. Hundreds more have fled
their homes because of the latest clashes in North Kivu province.
Vinton urges prayer that believers will not be intimidated
into silence. "It does hamper the
spread of the Gospel. The way the Gospel
can get out now, of course, is one by one…people who are Christians in there,
trying to reach out to their neighbors. That's why we are praying that that would
continue to happen, because most of our evangelists and missionaries would not
be able to go into those war zones."
Their team has continued some of their programs, despite the
risk, holding literacy tutor seminars just outside of Bukavu. The team also spent two weeks at Kindu Bible
College teaching two courses, and eight days at Kama in April meeting with many
of the pastors and church department heads from the whole area, as well as
holding a four-day seminar on spiritual leadership.
The ministry is fully invested in the country and has no
plans to pull out. Leaders for GMI's over
500 churches are trained through the ministry's Theological College, Pastors'
School, and 16 Bible institutes. A large medical center with two Congolese
doctors is also functioning in a Muslim area where there is a focus on planting
churches in the surrounding unreached people groups.