Rachel Kahindo’s calm demeanor concealed the distress in which she had left behind her family. Just 24 hours earlier, some 50 children, women and men had been hacked to death a mile up the road from where she lives in Beni, a rural town in the volatile East of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). It was the deadliest attack since the militia had stepped up its activity two years before. Despite the traumatic events, Rachel had traveled to the provincial capital of Goma to be trained as a facilitator for trauma-healing in children. The nine-day event, which included a camp for 50 youngsters age 8 to 18, was organized by the Protestant Council of Churches in Congo (ECC) in collaboration with the DRC Bible Alliance. Rachel, the coordinator of women’s ministries of the Baptist church in the Beni district, met up with 28 ECC women leaders and schoolteachers from five provincial synods, who together represented 12 ECC member denominations.
When I spoke with Rachel upon her arrival, she described that fated Sunday morning when her 8-year-old son had packed his bag, ready to go like the people he had seen hurrying past their house, carrying with them the few belongings they had grabbed as they fled for safety. Rachel had convinced her son that he didn’t need to worry. The locks on their gate kept the culprits out, and after all, God watched over them. It was in this faith that Rachel had told her family goodbye and come to Goma, so she would be equipped to help children in her community overcome the effects of trauma.Over the course of the highly interactive, Bible-based program, enthusiasm grew in trainees and children alike. Some who had been withdrawn started to engage, and others who had exhibited disruptive behavior settled down. Many became buddies, sharing similar experiences. Since the training, the facilitators have put the curriculum into practice in their own settings, working with children who have experienced trauma like conflict, sexual violence, death or divorce. In follow-up visits with facilitators and communities in the provinces, church leaders from the grassroots to ECC synod levels expressed to me their appreciation for the program. Pointing to the huge needs in more remote areas, they requested that this initial class of trauma-healing facilitators become trainers of facilitators in their respective synods, so more terrain could be covered.
As I accompanied Rachel in her trauma-healing ministry with children in Beni, and on her visits with families affected by the killings, I was reminded of the profound dedication, courage and resilience of our Congolese sisters and brothers who continue to serve Christ in these troubled areas.
Christi Boyd, facilitator for women and children’s interests in Africa
Today’s Focus: Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)
Let us join in prayer for:
(Affiliated) Ecumenical Partner Organization:
Rev. Berthe Nzeba, National General Secretary Women and Families Department, Protestant Council of Churches in Congo
Support ECC women’s ministries: https://www.presbyterianmission.org/donate/E052171/
Support Christi’s mission service: https://www.presbyterianmission.org/donate/E200314/
Presbyterian Church in Congo (CPC)
General Secretary Rev. Dr. Mulumba Mukundi
Asst. General Secretary Rev. Jean Tshidinda Mwamba
Presbyterian Church in Kinshasa (CPK)
1st Vice President Rév Bolanzaw Phillipe
2nd Vice President Rev. Jean NTITA MUAMBA
PC(USA) Mission co-workers in DRC:
Dr. Larry Sthreshley
Dr. John Fletcher
Dr. Martha Sommers
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Let us pray:
Parent God, blanket with your compassion all children who suffer human-made trauma, and cradle them to wholeness through the faithful ministries of your servants, in Congo and worldwide.
Revised Common Lectionary Readings for Sunday, April 23, 2017, the Second Sunday of Easter (Year A)