Sharp drop in aid to the east after Bukavu fighting

By June 15, 2004

Congo-Kinshasa (MNN)–A majority of humanitarian aid and relief programs were suspended because of recent fighting in Bukavu.

Instability between rebel and govenrment forces have created an untenable security problem. That means five million people who rely on the assistance will have to fend for themselves in the uneasy silence.

The sudden quiet after fierce fighting has some ill at ease. However, Grace Ministries’ International’s Sam Vinton thinks it may free up outreach channels. More than that, it was an answer to prayer. “People in Bukavu said that they felt that the Lord answered prayer, because these people who no one thought could be taken out of the city, all of the sudden just decided to leave and they laid down arms. Some of them just changed into being civilians, and others have just taken off and disappeared. The situation has become normal again.”

In the absence of hostilities, their missionary teams gathered food and other supplies and sent word to the community.

As the lines formed for relief, it was their appearance, not the contrary, that proved their teams’ committment. Vinton says the fact that their teams didn’t evacuate speaks volumes. “They’ve been able to help a lot of the people who are hungry. This has been a real good testimony to say that Christians love people, and they want to work to help people.”

The Congo is GMI’s oldest and largest mission field. Vinton says their reputation among the people goes a long way. “Love and kindness and that kind of a testimony and a commitment to what you believe, I think, sometimes, speaks louder than just preaching. This has opened up some doors to sharing the Gospel.”

Five missionaries work with the national church organization in the areas of evangelism, church planting, education, medical work, and community development projects. Church leaders are trained in GMI’s Bible college, Pastors’ School, and sixteen Bible institutes.

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