Congo-Kinshasa (MNN) — Rebels of
the Lord's Resistance Army promised to "celebrate Christmas" with the
Christians in northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo. That's a veiled reference to the 2008
According to a report by the New
York-based Human Rights Watch published in February 2009, nearly 900 civilians
were killed in the Niangara region between last December 24 and January
17. At least 160 children were kidnapped
by the LRA at the same time.
The UN peacekeeping force takes the
threat seriously and plans to step up its joint patrols with the Congolese
army. However, rebel soldiers have already been spotted in the bush. The sight of them has sent tremors of fear
through congregations, and many have fled the area.
believers are "sitting ducks," says Sam Vinton with Grace Ministries International. "Their celebration is a lot more open and prolonged. They will
start at four in the morning sometimes, and go on to noon on Christmas Day. Their celebrations are not just "go to
church, sing a few songs and come back out." So, they're out there in the open,
as well. If these rebels or soldiers are out in the forest somewhere, they would
be easy prey."
Pray for the safety of these
believers and that there will be no attack. "We need to continue holding
them before the Lord," says Vinton. "I'm sure that relatives who lost family before
this–they're back again, and then they're hearing this threat to do this–it
would be a very disconcerting thing for Christians, which, in some cases, would
probably close down Christmas services that they'd planned."