Successful peace talks could help ministry in Congo

By January 2, 2008

Congo (MNN) — Peace talks in the Democratic Republic of Congo have been delayed until January 6 to allow for all parties to be involved. President Joseph Kabila is under pressure from the United Nations and the United States to find a political solution to end years of fighting in the Kivus involving government troops, Tutsi insurgents, Rwandan Hutu rebels and Mai Mai militia.

President of Grace Ministries International Sam Vinton says peace will promote free movement throughout the country, which means it's easier to share the Gospel. Vinton says the civil conflicts have caused problems for their work. "During all these troubles in the last six or seven years, we have lost a number of churches. I don't know the exact number — it could be 40 or 50 churches. Villages have been demolished or people fled into other (areas) and have stayed out there."

He says country wide peace is the only thing that will allow Grace Ministries to fortify their work. "There are areas that we have not visited for a number of years where we have churches in the interior." Vinton says that kind of peace builds confidence and ultimately gives feet to the Gospel.

Vinton says they're slowly reconstructing and repairing buildings that were damaged during the civil unrest. "We continue to move ahead as we can. There are other areas where I know the church would like to expand further into other cities, but that's where we're being kept from moving because of the lack of transportation."

Trains and even boat transportation is running again. However, there's still much uncertainty in the country.

Vinton is asking Christians to pray for the leaders who will be in the peace talks. "Pray that these leaders start thinking about their own people instead of themselves. Quite often people who become leaders try to figure out how to enrich themselves, get more power and in the process forget who elected them. They forget especially the people in the interior."

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