Tensions high for some in the run up to Congo’s election

By November 25, 2011

Congo-Kinshasa (MNN) — Tensions are high as pre-election jitters
have gripped the Democratic Republic of Congo.   

Voters and politicians are gearing up for November 28,  the second set of post-civil war
elections.  It's the first time the
presidential and parliamentary vote will be combined in the same election.

Due
to the massive size of the central African country, getting  voting materials to the polling stations and
back is one of the biggest logistical challenges.  Amidst threats of violence, election
watchdogs wonder if  the election will go
forward on time.

Although there have been many reports of political aggression,
Grace Ministries International's
Sam Vinton says they're hearing a different
story. He spoke with a church pastor
late in the week who says so far, things have been peaceful. "'Our prayer
is simply that whoever wins, the others will not riot and if there is anything
we're asking God for, it's that this will go peacefully and [sic] everything
will end up to where we will have elections and we can go on with life."'

There
are 11 parties competing for the President's seat, but there are two
frontrunners.One is incumbent President
Joseph Kabila, and the other is Etienne Tshisekedi. Kabila is seeking a second term in office,
and Tshisekedi is connected as a leader of the Congolese Democracy Movement.

In the post-war areas, the candidates are using the last few days
for stumping. Observers say political change may be the only thing to bring
peace into the region. Congo is home to over 71 million people, from about 450
tribes. It is for that reason, there is
concern about the possibility of tribal loyalty boiling over into tribal
conflict. Vinon notes, "In Central Congo, where the second man
is running, is from that area. He is the old politician who has been thwarted I
the past because of Mobuto (president until 1997). I imagine there will be
tribal conflict and these are large tribes in Central and Western
Congo." 

Polling results will be compiled on December 5 and published on
December 6, the expiration date of the term of President Joseph Kabila, who is
seeking re-election. "The system there is whoever gets a majority, whether
it's 40-percent or 30% out of all the numbers of people voting,
automatically, that person becomes president instead of having a run-off",
explains Vinton. He adds, " I would
presume that the President will win a second term."

The Congo is GMI's oldest and largest mission field. Four
missionaries work with the Grace Church in Congo in the areas of evangelism,
church planting, education, literature, medical work, and community development
projects.

Leaders for their 500 partnering churches are trained in
GMI's  fully accredited Theological
College, Pastors' School, and 16 Bible institutes.

A large medical center with two Congolese doctors is functioning
in a Muslim area where there is a focus on planting churches in the surrounding
unreached people groups. One teacher training college, 75 high schools, and 145
grade schools are run by the national church.

With such a widespread outreach, upheaval can and often has
stopped ministry.  However, Vinton says
their partner is confident things will continue to go well.  "Nothing is hindering the work. They are
able to freely move at this time, so for that reason I was thankful to hear
that the prospects, to them, look good, though they say that there's always
possibility for trouble."

Their evangelism team has been traveling into many
villages, giving out tracts, witnessing house to house, and showing The GodMan
video in evening meetings.  From  the time GMI's team set out hoping to win
1,000 people to Christ in 2009, they've seen 
between 17 and 18 -thousand new followers of Christ.

The increased openness may be derived from
economic troubles in the Democratic Republic of Congo, which have affected
transportation, food availability, and many other realms of life. Whatever the
cause, GMI is doing all it can to strengthen these new lives in Christ.                                                               

Says their church partner, "'If there's anything you can do,
you can just pray for us. We are all just going to be quietly  staying home and hoping things turn out
fine.'"  Pray, too, for the follow
up and the finances to reprint another 5,000 copies of the first discipleship
book.

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