DRC (MNN) — The capital city of Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has been the epicenter of riots and violence for two days now. Protesters are decrying dirty elections.
The people aren’t sure current President Joseph Kabila will really step down from power in the upcoming election season. The elections have already been postponed to December, a move seen by critics as strategic for keeping President Kabila in the driver’s seat.
People have been killed in these clashes, but reports on numbers differ depending on who you talk to. Police say there have been 32 deaths, whereas opposition says that toll is closer to 100.
Local forces have fired live ammunition on protesters, protesters have launched grenades at election party headquarters, lives have been lost on all sides.
Every Child Ministries has work in the DRC, but they haven’t heard anything from ministry partners on the ground.
Lorella Rouster with Every Child Ministries says, “We speculate they are not able to get to the internet or things are closed down. We have read that everything is closed down, including businesses, so it’s very likely that they’re unable to get to the internet, and also [it is] probably pretty dangerous to move around the city.”
Rouster shares, “Similar things happened when we used to live in Congo. And people would just stay inside. That is the number one rule. Just stay home, stay put, stay out of sight.”
Currently, Every Child Ministries is trying to send much-needed funds for the continuation of ministry work in the DRC. The funds are required for their street kids ministry, family programming, Sunday school outreach, and more.
“However, those funds all go through Kinshasa. So when Kinshasa is down, it affects the work in the whole country…. I’m not sure exactly how all this is going to affect it, but I think it’s going to be difficult to get funds to them at the present moment and I know they are very much needed.”
Turmoil in the DRC isn’t new. In the midst of it all, Every Child Ministries is getting ahead of the social problem by reaching the next generation with the deeper truths of the Gospel and God’s love.
“I believe the people in the Democratic Republic of Congo are very hungry for the Word. It’s been there for over 100 years, and yet there are many places in the interior where [the Scriptures are] really quite new. So we minister in many of those more difficult-to-reach places. We’ve seen an amazing response of many children and families turning to Christ, and becoming associated with His Church.”
Rouster shares, “In Kinshasa, we have a ministry to street children. That involves ministering Jesus to them on the street. It also involves helping some get off the street by providing vocational training…. We also have a very large ministry there helping churches train Sunday school teachers so they can develop their own children’s ministries.”
But Every Child Ministries doesn’t just improve the lives of kids. They also work to bring together and heal families with the compassion of Christ. This branch of their ministry is called Restore a Family, and they intervene with families on behalf of street children and encourage reconnection with immediate or extended family members.
According to Rouster, Restore a Family had surprising beginnings.
“It actually was an accident, in God’s providence. Some of the street kids prepared a skit which they took to local churches…. And when they did, we were surprised that it brought such conviction to some of the members of the congregation who actually had kind of forced their own teenage children out onto the streets — often feeling that the bad things, the difficult things the family was going through might be the result of witchcraft and the children might be involved.
“They became so convicted, they went out and looked for their kids and asked forgiveness and brought them back home again.”
Rouster says, for Restore a Family, “We kind of expanded that and tried that again, and almost always had a similar effect where it has convinced Christians to go out and bring their kids home.”
For now, pray.
“Certainly pray that a solution will be found to the unrest there. Unrest connected with elections is not such an unusual thing in Congo, but when it shuts down a big city with millions like Kinshasa, that’s pretty serious. So pray a solution will be found there and order will be restored. Pray that Gospel workers, ours and those of other ministries, will be safe, and pray that God will continue to work in the lives of the street children.”