DRC (MNN) — There are over 200 African ethnic groups in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), according to the CIA World Factbook. With such a diverse population, Congolese deal with issues of tribalism and infighting. Local pastors and Christian leaders see this not just as a national issue, but a spiritual one.
Mission Aviation Fellowship’s Ron Wismer recently met with a delegation of over 400 Christian leaders — both laymen and pastors — in eastern Congo to discuss tribal reconciliation through the Gospel.
“You can read anywhere about eastern Congo and the problems that are there. Certainly a lot of tribal issues where tribes are against tribes, and this reconciliation group is very involved in trying to help people come to grips with, not only the tribalism, but the fact that the spiritual lack of Christ in their lives is what causes them to do these kinds of actions and have these kinds of situations.”
These Congolese Christian leaders represented churches from several denominations, says Wismer, “but they all have a specific goal to bring reconciliation to this tribal fighting and infighting that is happening throughout eastern Congo.”
The purpose of the delegation was to start strategic thinking on how to bring tangible reconciliation among remote tribes. It starts with asking good questions to find where the Gospel and reconciliation is most-needed.
Wismer shares, “I was able to present a research process that we would like them to do, just a simple 20-question survey that we want them to work through with certain areas. They were very excited about being able to do that. We’re going to follow-up with that in the next few months and then try to do it every year to kind of get a baseline and understanding of where they’re moving and what the possibilities are and what the changes are.”
In addition to strategic thinking, the Congolese pastors and laymen also celebrated how God is already moving in the DRC. “They’ve had much success in the last few years and have seen literally thousands of people come to a recognition of their need for Christ to bring reconciliation.”
When it comes to peace and reconciliation, why is the message of the Gospel so critical? Wismer explains:
“This spiritual aspect of having the Holy Spirit now directing you is much different than just saying, ‘Well, I want to be nice to my neighbor, I want to help.’ But without the help and the aid of the Counselor, if you will,… there won’t be that transformation. You can transform people certainly with physical help and give them some medical care and even education, but without that spiritual aspect, there will still be jealousy. There will still be, ‘That tribe is doing better than I am. They have the hospital, we don’t.’ Those kinds of jealousies will not be resolved with just simple, physical transformation. Without that spiritual side, the understanding of sin and how it plays an affect on my life and how I operate with my fellow-man will not happen.”
MAF’s role will be to fly these Christian leaders into those hard-to-reach areas where tribes reside. It’s all about enabling the local Church’s ministry to proclaim the Gospel and enact physical and spiritual change.
“At this point, we feel the national church group there is the one to reach out. All we want to do is come alongside, pray for them, support them, give them some flying if they need it. But as far as the actual reconciliation act, it’s got to be with the local people because they understand it so much better than we do.”
Speaking of prayer, will you uplift Christian leaders in the DRC before the Lord today? Please pray for God to give these pastors and laymen wisdom and clarity on how to share His message of hope with remote tribes. Pray for peace in the DRC and a spiritual revival for God’s glory.
Wismer says your prayers truly are an encouragement. “I just appreciate those that are praying for this country of Congo…. There are unreached people groups in the Congo, they are small ones, but they are there, and we would appreciate your prayers for those who are trying to reach them.”