Election tally continues in Congo, Christians reach out despite uncertainty

By August 17, 2006

D.R. Congo (MNN) — The first free elections in more than 40 years are over, but a winner has yet to be announced. The elections hope to bring peace to a country torn apart by civil war. Christians, too, are hoping for peace so they can continue reaching the lost with the Gospel.

Doctor Gil Odendaal with Medical Ambassadors International just returned from Congo, where many are involved in Community Health Evangelism, or CHE. He was surprise how well the program’s going. “We were amazed to see that the 57 villages we were in have more than doubled in the time our absence, which for me is an absolute sign of the self sustainability of our Community Health Evangelism programs. That means village leaders have come together and said you know, ‘we want to better our lives physically and spiritually, churches have been established.”

CHE combines physical and spiritual ministry that Christ instituted while He was here on earth. According to Odendaal, the program only works with nationals. “They then are taught how to enter communities, get the senior leadership in that community to participate and help identify what they perceive to be their problems.” Then Medical Ambassadors volunteers help facilitate a plan to address those problems.

Growing the program hasn’t been easy, Odendaal says. “The Congo, as the whole, has no infrastructure. As you know it’s one of the few countries in the world where nobody pays taxes. So, it’s utter poverty and unless the communities mobilize, nothing happens.”

That’s one reason why Christians are praying for calm when the election results are announced. “The results — they’re still busy counting, it’s now two weeks after the elections, of course they’re only 50-percent done counting the ballots. People are skeptical whether or not it’s going to bring a change. Just pray for the peace in that country, that it won’t result in another revolution or another civil war.”

CHE typically consists of training in hygiene, water purification, agriculture and other necessities, but at the same time they’re taught about Christ’s love and His saving grace.

According to Odendaal you can support a trainer for $50 to $100 a month. They also need Bibles, which are expensive because of the poor infrastructure. He says each Bible can cost up to $9 to get into the hands of those who need it most.

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