Congo-Kinshasa (MNN) — As a
tentative cease-fire holds, aid workers are reaching thousands displaced by the
intense fighting between rebels and government forces in the Democratic
Republic of Congo.
In the lull, humanitarian aid
groups resumed work in North Kivu, near the border with Rwanda and Uganda.
General Laurent Nkunda led rebel forces in a new offensive in North
Kivu last month, displacing thousands of residents from villages and camps. The rumble of panic could be felt throughout
the region, sending waves of refugees fleeing in advance of the troops. Many have been without food or clean water
for several days.
Sam Vinton with
Grace Ministries International says, "At the moment, everything
has sort of stopped. They were 20
kilometers from Goma. There's
negotiations taking place where I'm sure our country and others are trying to
talk to these people, as far as what's happening. It's still at a standstill, and I have heard
nothing new except that people are very nervous in the city of Goma."
Fortunately, the truce has
allowed the aid teams to assess the needs and respond in the camps as quickly
as they can. Everyone knows the accord
could fail at a moment's notice, especially since the rebels are not much more
than roving gangs, says Vinton.
Grace Ministries' teams remember the last
time rebels came through, so they're ready to respond with the hope of
Christ. "Many, many fled into
Bukavu. We opened up all our churches,
and people were sleeping in the churches, and we were providing food at that
time. So far, it has not reached that
proportion. It has not really affected
our ministry other than the people being uptight and scared. But last Sunday,
everything went on; churches were operating."
Four missionaries work with the
Grace Church in Congo in the areas of evangelism, church planting, education,
literature, medical work, and community development projects. Leaders for over 500 churches are trained in
their fully-accredited Theological College, Pastors' School, and 16 Bible
A large medical center with two
Congolese doctors is functioning in a Muslim area where there is a focus on
planting churches in the surrounding unreached people groups. One teacher
training college, 75 high schools, and 145 grade schools are run by the
Pray that the peace accord
holds. Pray that God supplies the
resources needed to help the refugees. Pray that hearts will be open to the Gospel as the team acts as the hands and
feet of Christ.