DRC (MNN) — Recent violence in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) escalated to the point that Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) had to move their base.
Tribal violence is nothing new in the DRC. But with the growing boldness of militia groups and the ISIS-affiliated Allied Democratic Forces, massacres and human rights abuses have increased at an alarming rate.
Earlier last year, MAF was stationed out of Nyankunde in eastern DRC. Some of their national staff lived in the local village.
Nearly 20 years ago, the village in Nyankunde suffered a terrible attack from another tribe and over 1,000 people died. From there, Jon Cadd with MAF says, “Now this tribe feels like they need to be armed and ready for anything like that. They have been building up over the last few years.”
It wasn’t until recently that violence erupted in MAF’s backyard.
Cadd says, “The government military came in to control them. There was a big battle in our village, and our pilots and their families were down on the floor in their hallways with mortars and small arms fire going on for a couple of days before they were able to actually get out and over to the provincial capital of Bunia, which is about 14 miles away by air.”
Now MAF is operating out of Bunia in eastern DRC, but they are mourning the losses in Nyankunde. Many village homes were burned and utterly destroyed, and several people died.
“A lot of our guys in MAF, our national staff, have lost their houses in Nyankunde,” Cadd says. “They were taken over by the militia and they’ve been told, ‘You are not welcome here.’ So they lose everything. We’re trying to get them some housing that is adequate for their family to live. There are lots of wonderful opportunities to bless people, other Christian brothers.”
MAF is still committed to the cause of Christ in the DRC. And there is a need now more than ever for safe flights over dangerous areas.
Cadd says, “Out of Bunia, we are able to fly people over these troubled areas. It’s kind of an airbridge that we can fly safely [and] move people around safely to areas that are more secure on the other side.
“It has actually increased our ministry… Things have changed a lot and whereas we used to have a large number of international missionaries in the country, that number is radically reduced. The wonderful thing is that the local Church is stepping up in many ways to carry on spreading the Gospel to unreached places in Congo.”
One fruitful partnership is between MAF and local church pastors. MAF flies these Congolese pastors to remote and unreached areas of the DRC to share the Gospel.
Cadd says outreach missions like this wouldn’t be possible without the help of donated funds. “It’s been a wonderful blessing for us. They don’t have the finances that a lot of international organizations would have. So we’ve actually been able to raise funds to help them do the flying part of it. It’s been a great thing to be a partner in that with them.”
If you would like to give in support of MAF in eastern DRC, click here! Search for fund 4039 – EDRC IDP Refugee Response.
Meanwhile, pray for the needs of the Congolese people. The ongoing threat of violence leaves many scars and traumas. The Church in the DRC is working to meet needs and provide healing in the name of Jesus.
Pray for spiritual encouragement among our Congolese Christian brothers and sisters. Pray for the nation to find hope and peace in the Gospel.
“Our pilots are struggling a lot,” Cadd says. “It’s a violent area and, for me in security, I’m continually getting things on my phone. If there’s an attack on the road by ADF, people just have their phone there and they take pictures of all the people that have been shot and they’re lying all over the ground in piles or beheaded. Those kinds of things, it wears on you. It’s a harsh environment to live in.”
Many of the MAF staff families have newborns and young children. “It’s not the average growing-up situation that you would think of,” Cadd says.
“Pray for our pilots just for strength and the ability to carry on in a very difficult situation.”
Header photo courtesy of Mark Hewes with MAF.