Congo-Kinshasa (MNN) – A quick check of the headlines on the Democratic Republic of the Congo reveals a common theme in the news: Ebola.
Few other words strike fear as quickly as that one. A couple of weeks ago, government figures revealed the number of cases of Ebola in eastern Congo exceeded 2,000, with new cases leaking into bordering countries.
This has been tagged as one of the most complex public health emergency in history. News of hundreds of new cases in the last few weeks means a stumble in the forward progress of the containment campaign due to instability in the remote region.
Owning The Crisis
Containment is an ‘all hands on deck’ kind of mission and draws everyone into a common purpose. For five years, TeachBeyond’s presence in the DRC served as a beacon of hope. However, the ministry’s newly-installed President David Durance says it hasn’t been easy.
“Between health and war, getting into Kinshasa has been impossible for maybe two-thirds of the five years. One of the things that we’re really cognizant of is how we are participating as global citizens in this.”
A big step forward was realizing that the ministry wasn’t shouldering this crisis from its headquarters. Instead, the response would, appropriately, come within the DRC itself.
“There are people right in Kinshasa who are wanting to participate in transformational education and being the arm of TeachBeyond in Kinshasa. TeachBeyond has been working in and through our local members there and their TeachBeyond members as well and starting a school that has now become the model school for the country. ”
Utilizing the model of holistic education, which includes community health education, TeachBeyond and Bangui Evangelical School of Theology opened Fateb Kinshasa Academy in 2015 in the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The model worked.
“A couple of weeks ago, we just finished our first model school training where we had a local community of 50 schools come to our TeachBeyond school there and be able to participate in this training, for the first time.”
Ebola’s Impact On Ministry
When asked how training occurs in a time when the government heavily restricts border travel, Durance responded, “As we’ve battled this difficulty of trying to get in and train and deal with this, we’ve had to be really creative. We’ve had to use things like the internet, which isn’t always reliable in Kinshasa. we’ve had to have members not go (on) trips because they weren’t able to make it because of the health risk.”
Despite the unique challenges of insurgency and a deadly virus, avoiding training altogether was never an option. “The goal is always that our local nationals are able to pick up this mantle and run with it as a movement that is born out of the local, national Christian Church, saying this is a DRC movement, and we want to be owning this responsibility for caring and loving others in our community.”
Though the Ebola outbreak is the second largest in history, not all major city centers report new cases. The World Health Organization plan focuses on three areas in North Kivu – Beni, Mangina, and Butembo.
For TeachBeyond, almost a thousand miles away, it’s a reprieve. “Up to this point, because the major (city) centers have not been impacted, we’ve still been able to develop the small school training and bring schools there, and that hasn’t been restricted by the government. It’s encouraging that we haven’t seen a reduction of that yet.”
Pray, Then Pray Some More
Durance goes on to note that there are always safety challenges in extremely volatile countries. “Our brothers and sisters there that are standing for Christ are always at risk; at risk from the government, but also from just movements within the country that are fighting against the growing Christian movement, especially in education. So I think that is one thing: prayer for our Christian brothers and sisters there, for their safety.”
One final thought: “Pray that God would do something amazing in these thousand plus Christian schools that are already in the university. A lot of these Christian Schools are Christian by name only are not practicing, so in a real way, our prayer is that through this model school movement, that God would give us those thousand schools so that they can be participating in transformational education in their country.”
Headline photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.