Corruption and ethnic violence spawn Congo humanitarian crisis

DRC (MNN) — You may not have heard about it in the mainstream media, but in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, political corruption and ethnic violence have spawned a crisis. In less than a year, more than 3,000 people in the Kasai region have been killed and over one million displaced.

(Photo courtesy of World Mission via Facebook)

The Kasai region is one of the Congo’s poorest and most remote provinces. Ulrika Blom, the Congo country director at the Norwegian Refugee Council, was quoted by Newsweek as saying that “a woefully inadequate number of aid agencies” are on the ground and a “pitiful amount of money” has been pledged to help with the crisis. The lack of accessibility and threat of danger also prevent many journalists from reporting the events.

Over the past couple of decades, the Congo has been in an almost perpetual civil war. Much of it stems from the Rwandan Genocide of 1994 when millions of refugees spilled into the Congo.

“It’s one of the most ethnically diverse countries in the entire world,” says Greg Kelley of World Mission, an organization that brings God’s Word in an audio format to unreached people. “In Africa, and Congo’s no exception, the root of so much of the conflict and the lack of leadership is ethnic violence targeting one another, and that’s exactly what we’re seeing over these last three or four months.

“We have learned that back in October 2016, when it seems to be sort of the ground zero of when this started, there was a local chief that was killed, and that really kind of spawned a lot of the aftermath of the violence and retaliation.”

Compounding the problem is the unwillingness of President Joseph Kabila to relinquish power. He continues to delay elections, which were supposed to be held last fall.

“Congo is one of the richest countries, not only in Africa, but the world,” Kelley says. “They have everything — gold, diamonds, oil — it’s all in Congo. And if the country could just stabilize and experience peace, they could be an incredibly wealthy nation.”

Behind the political conflict lies the root issues of greed and a thirst for power. That’s why World Mission is sending hundreds of its solar-powered audio Bibles, called the Treasure, to give people the hope of the Gospel and help foster unity.

“The sad part of this story, and I don’t think it’s covered, is when you look at Congo as a nation, it’s over 90 percent Christian. So that’s really unfortunate when you see the Church being so established there,” Kelley says. Congo will become the most populous Christian country in all of Africa within the next 20 years.

“So when you have that dynamic there, it’s unfortunate, but it’s also a tremendous opportunity for the Body of Christ to really respond to this and establish itself that this is no longer acceptable.”

So how can the average person help ease such an immense conflict? Kelley says it’s important for people to educate themselves on what exactly is happening within the country.

(Photo courtesy of World Mission)

“Jesus didn’t call us to evangelize or make disciples of Congo, per se. He said to make disciples of nations,” Kelley says. “And inside of Congo, there are literally more than 200 nations. So I think a starting point for the average Christian is to understand, ‘Okay, what is a nation inside of Congo?’ And they can go to the Joshua Project or other locations to learn about that, so they can really pray with intentionality.”

You can also give financially to organizations like World Mission. Click here to learn how you can help put the Treasure into the hands of those who need it.

Finally, recognize what’s at stake.

“This has been a perpetual, ongoing situation in Congo,” Kelley says. “And we need to recognize that at the end of the day it’s a heart issue. This is not about anything other than the sinful condition of people, and until the heart changes, conditions in places like Congo are going to be ruled by power and corruption and greed. So we just need to really pray that the heart of the people changes.”