Goma once more needs reason to hope


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United Methodist Bishop Ntambo Nkulu Ntanda, part of a delegation from the Democratic Republic of Congo, testified Sept. 19 before a subcommittee of the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee. Photo by Jay Mallin.

Excerpt: In September, I watched online as a United Methodist bishop from the Democratic Republic of Congo pleaded with a sympathetic U.S. congressional subcommittee to help end the rapes and killings in eastern Congo.

Bishop Ntambo Nkulu Ntanda and other members of a Congolese delegation were visiting New York and Washington on an urgent mission. They wanted to persuade Congress and the United Nations to pressure neighboring Rwanda to end its support of the M23, rebel fighters causing havoc in the region.

Two months later, as today’s front-page headline in The New York Times observed, “Congo slips into chaos again…”

As a denomination, we need to pay attention to this crisis for a variety of reasons — to support our fellow United Methodists in the DRC, to honor our decades of mission and ministry there and to join the international call for an end to the continuous violence that especially has plagued vulnerable women and children.

Last week, with the M23 advancing, United Methodist Bishop Gabriel Unda Yemba, who leads the East Congo area, said Goma and nearby villages “are not a place to live because of all the horrors that take place.” The United Methodist Board of Global Ministries responded with a message of prayer and support.

I remember a period during the 1990s, amidst the horror of the Rwandan genocide, when the Board of Global Ministries was helping United Methodists bring hope in Goma, Bukavu and Uvira.

Refugees from Rwanda and, later, Burundi, fled to what was then known as eastern Zaire and its residents were struggling to deal with the influx of 2 million people.

United Methodists from Zaire and several hundred international volunteers-in-mission offered assistance in refugee camps and worked to create the Goma Children’s Village to care for a small portion of the more than 100,000 lost, abandoned or orphaned refugee children from Rwanda. Local street children also were welcome.

United Methodists also established medical clinics in Bukavu and Uvira and built a large church in Uvira that also housed a school for refugee children. It was hoped that additional children’s villages could be set up in those two cities.

In early 1996, the United Methodist Committee on Relief received a $3.5 million grant from the United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees to manage firewood cutting and distribute pharmaceuticals to Rwandan and Burundian refugees living in the region… | READ FULL ARTICLE

> DOWNLOAD sermon by Bishop Gabriel Unda Yemba, East Congo Episcopal Area, to the Council of Bishops at Epworth By The Sea on November 7, 2012 (.PDF)

5 Comments on “Goma once more needs reason to hope”

  1. Bishop, I am a living witness of the awe-inspiring power of God. Here in America, I have gone through rape and so much tortue and emotional pain and I wish I had the opportunity to witness to those ladies (old and young) who have suffered such atrocities. There is hope is the midst of what appears to be hopelessness…continue to trust God. I am an ordained minister, also, and I believe with all of my heart that victory will win!

  2. Peggi Billman says:

    We have been to Tanzania twice. The first time we led seminars in the UMC in the Lugufu Refugee camp, which is a Congolese Refugee camp in the Kigoma District in Tanzania. Our friends, who are missionaries there, fled Zaire with their two young children and God led them to work in Tanzania. This refugee camp became so large that there were Lugufu I and Lugufu II camps. The people welcomed us with signs, banners and song. Our time with them in worship and teaching was tremendous. The mud and stick church would only seat so many so people stood outside the 1/2 wall of the church listening and watching through the windows. Because of the lack of space, the invitations for prayer (for salvation, for infilling of the Holy Spirit, for healing, etc.) were done by lifted hands and those outside the church participated also.These were brothers and sisters of ours in our UM denomination there. It was a time I will never forget. We also did an evangelistic service in the afternoon for all in the camp and had over 1000 attend.

    Our second trip we went to the Mtabila Refugee Camp for Burundian refugees. We taught and worshiped in the largest UMC in Tanzania at that time which happened to be in the refugee camp. 700 came to the seminars and 2512 attended Sunday morning (the pastor’s number – very specific). Once again, it was packed to capacity with people standing in the doorways and windows. This church was built over a mud and stick church and the building program consisted of asking each family to make 300 bricks to build it. So they built it, then dismantled the stick and mud church, went out and won 1000 more to the Lord. Now, that’s a building program! Again, our UM brothers and sisters welcomed us with enthusiasm and much hunger to learn more about our amazing Father and his lavish love for all of us!

    Both times we were in Tanzania we also ministered to church leadership training them to lead Life in the Spirit seminars and other church matters including financial integrity, relationships, etc. Both trips were memorable and life-changing and I can’t wait to return one day.

  3. Ed Trimmer, Center for Church Leadership says:

    Rev. Nkonge of the Congo (UM pastor) has a daughter at martin methodist Junie Nkonge who interned this apst sumemr at GB Church and Society