As we continue in A1:8 Missions month, it is our hope that you will talk about missions and service together as a family. We are excited for you to hear a few first-hand accounts from our NCC missionaries who are serving in the countries about which your family will be learning!It was during a series on miracles in 2010 at National Community Church that one little prayer request turned into access to clean water for a community in Democratic Republic of Congo. Ever since, a team from NCC has invested in DR Congo with their time, treasure, talents, travel and advocacy. Fueled by a mutual love for DR Congo and their Congolese friends, this group from NCC visits eastern DR Congo annually and brings back stories of hope from a place where it might seem lost. After many years of academic research about the ongoing conflicts in DR Congo, Jennifer Connell has been a part of this group and continues to invest in the relationships she has built with her Congolese friends. We asked Jennifer to share about the country she loves so much. Here is what she had to say.
If you listen closely, you can hear a beautiful heartbeat of Africa in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo). Whether you’re hiking the active volcanoes in the east, floating down the powerful Congo River, or swimming in the Atlantic Ocean on the western border, this country is full of natural, God-given wonders.
These incredible landscapes are hard to compete with, but the joyful and resilient Congolese people really make this country extraordinary. Their understanding of honoring one another well and celebrating life is unmatched. One of my first memories of DR Congo is being met at the border by local church members who cheerfully greeted us with song, dance and hugs, even though their travel to the border was not easy and the wait was much longer than anticipated.
The picture I’ve painted of DR Congo is not the war-torn country I studied in graduate school…but it is. DR Congo is home to some of the world’s most extraordinary natural wonders, amazing people and enormous amounts of natural resources, but it’s also known for war, poverty and corruption.
To fully understand DR Congo you have to recognize the several layers of challenges and wonders mixing in one pot. Blended with the vast natural resources, which could make this country one of the wealthiest in the world, is corruption. Also stirring with these natural resources and politics is war that has been wreaking havoc on and off for nearly 20 years. It has caused the deaths of more than five million people, making it the deadliest conflict since World War II. And while the Congolese people have some of the greatest spiritual wealth I’ve ever seen, their country is one of the financially poorest in the world where 63.6% of the people live below the national poverty line.
NCC’s Partnership with Our Congolese Friends
In the midst of its many challenges, there are bright lights of hope in DR Congo, and it’s seen in people like Pastor Jeremiah Rukukuye. Pastor Jeremiah was a refugee himself who came back to his home country when it was still unsafe, because God gave him great vision for what could be.
That vision has played out into what is Congo for Christ Center (CCC) in Uvira, DR Congo – a place where many local community members are equipped with skills and God-given knowledge to pursue their dreams. Through elementary education open to the local community at Mango Tree School and an orphanage that cares for 57 children, Pastor Jeremiah and team are paving the way for hope, restoration and potential to grow in DR Congo.
Pastor Jeremiah’s vision is far beyond his resources, but he doesn’t let that stop him from dreaming big, praying hard and thinking long. And that’s where we come in as a supporting church in the US with abundant resources. Please see below for ways you can get involved to support this life-changing ministry in DR Congo!
What You Can Do
- Pray for Pastor Jeremiah, the 57 orphaned children and staff at the Congo for Christ Center (CCC), the students and teachers at Mango Tree School, and leaders in DR Congo.
- When Christmas shopping, buy a gift with a cause. Purchasing jewelry from Kicheko.org provides education for one child for one month at Mango Tree School.
- Go to global-outreach.net and search for “Mango Tree School.” Watch the video and learn how you can partner with children.
- As a family, collect change to support the education of a child. Donate at global-outreach.net
- Join us! Our Congolese friends love to have visitors – the next short term mission team will head toUvira in summer 2016.
Jennifer Connell studied the Democratic Republic of Congo for her Master’s degree in International Relations and has been a part of NCC’s short term mission team to the DR Congo since 2011. Jennifer loves to karaoke and it’s not uncommon to hear her sing Sound of Music tunes to end a busy workday!