Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Volcanoes, Guerillas, Gorillas and Genocide

The city of Goma, in North Kivu province, is considered the capital of eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. In this very large central African country where the capital lies far to the west, this border city to Rwanda has seen some very rough times. In the late 1990’s its location put it in the midst of the First and Second Congo Wars, the second of which was dubbed “Africa’s world war”. This conflict saw the death of nearly 5.5 million people, mostly from disease and starvation, as well as the displacement of millions more from there homes.

A large part of Goma’s recent history is also wrapped up in the effects and aftermath of the Rwandan genocide in 1994. The areas surrounding Goma experienced a massive influx of both genocide victims as well as those who perpetrated the crime. This volatile mix resulted in violence and conflict that to one degree or another still exists in the region.

The ecological focal points in this region are the fragile forests and the famed mountain gorillas that dwell in them. The price for a tourist to get close to these magnificent animals is upwards of $500 for the one-hour experience. Besides destruction caused by the encroachment of humans these precious but limited forest habitats were recently threatened by fire as the result of burning lava running down the sides of a nearby volcano.

Working to bring peace, stability and the mind-renewing love of Christ in the midst of this volatile mix of political instability, environmental concerns and outright human conflict is the Community of Baptist Churches in Eastern Congo (CEBCE). For many years this group has founded churches, established schools and brought modern medicine to this region.

eMi first partnered with CEBCE in the fall of 2008 with a disaster response team, in conjunction with Samaritan’s Purse, to provide water filtration and sanitation to serve 2,500 people at a camp for Internally Displaced People (IDP). Representatives of CEBCE were the local coordinators for these efforts.

In 2002 a rare but deadly volcanic eruption of nearby Mt. Nyirogongo sent lava streaming through the city of Goma, wiping out the main administrative and ministry complex of CEBCE. Our eMi team of 12 will help to redesign a new multi-use ministry center. The facilities will include a new health center and medical laboratory, a guest house for visiting pastors and teams (like ours), conference spaces and commercial retail spaces which will provide revenue to help fund the work of CEBCE.

Our team will be flying into Kigali, Rwanda and drive overland into the DR Congo. Our prayer requests for the team include safety in our travels in the sky and on the ground, unity as we get to know and work with one another and sensitivity in listening to and providing a design that is well suited to the ministries of CEBCE. We also ask for prayer for all our families at home who need to handle the ongoing busyness of life without those of us on the team.

You can see more details of the project by visiting the link under Greg's Upcoming Projects at the top of the right side bar of the blog. Thank you to all supporters and friends who have come alongside my family and me in so many different ways, making it possible for me to be a part of this work. I look forward to sharing with you all about this project upon our return.

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