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I’ve just had the privilege of listening to Dr. Denis Mukwege as he visited Stockholm. PMU and Läkarmissionen, two Christian aid organizations that have supported Mukwege and the Panzi Hospital for decades. We celebrated Mukwege with music, speeches and donations. Among other things, we sang Mukwege’s favorite hymn, “The Promises will Never Fail” (Löftena kunna ej svika) by Swedish Pentecostal leader Lewi Pethrus, in Swedish and Swahili.
Missionary and nurse Kerstin Åkerman pointed out how prophetic Mukwege is. He has this ability – naturally or supernaturally – to have a visionary mindset and see things before they happen. For example, he stressed the importance of starting the building process of the Panzi Hospital quickly in 1998. Nobody understood why. (more…)
For too long, the wars in the Democratic Republic of the Congo have been destroying millions of lives. It is the deadliest conflict since World War Two, fuelled by conflict minerals used in our electronics and cars. Rape is a weapon of war; eastern Congo is one of the most dangerous places on earth to be a woman.
In the midst of this chaos, darkness and death, a bright light is shining. That light will now receive a Nobel Peace Prize.
Dr. Denis Mukwege is the son of a Pentecostal pastor who has a strong and robust faith in Jesus. The Swedish Pentecostal Mission funded his medical studies and, together with organizations, helped him build and run the Panzi Hospital in Bukavu, the capital of the conflict-ridden South Kivu province. Over 50,000 survivors of sexual violence have been treated at the hospital during the last 20 years. (more…)
A month ago, I wrote about the mix of tears and joy, suffering and glory that Iris Ministries in the Democratic Republic of Congo is experiencing. While people are losing their children and the women are raped by soldiers; miracles are abundant and the church has a burning passion for God. This paradoxal relationship between the cross and the glory may be hard for Western people to understand, but it is very real. Today I want to introduce you to a missionary who also experienced this in the Congo – but 50 years ago. Her name is Helen Roseveare.
After studying medicine in the UK and feeling the calling to be a missionary, Helen went to what was then Belgian Congo and started to develop the pretty much non-existant health care system. She was the only doctor for two and a half million people, saving thousands of lives. In the early 60’s, civil war broke lose as the Congolese people wanted to be liberated from Belgian colonialism. The war was extremely brutal. Helen was raped, twice.
Government soldiers came to my bungalow, ransacked it, then grabbed me. I was beaten and savagely kicked, losing my back teeth through the boot of a rebel soldier. They broke my glasses, so I could not see to protect myself from the next blow. Then, one at a time, two army officers took me to my own bedroom and raped me. They dragged me out into a clearing, tied me to a tree, and stood around laughing. And while I was there, beaten and humiliated and violated and ridiculed, someone discovered in the bungalow the only existing hand-written manuscript of a book I had been writing about God’s work in the Congo over an eleven-year period. They brought it out, put it on the ground in front of me, and burned it.
It takes less than that for others to leave both the country and the faith. But Helen knew the power and love of the living God, and she knew that He had called her to Congo to be an instrument of grace and peace. In an interview with Jesus Army, she told about the revival fires that her church saw in the midst of chaos:
Every now and then the amazing missionary organization Iris Global releases their video newsletters on Youtube. This week’s video covered their ministry in DR Congo, and I was just wrecked by it. So much pain. So much suffering. And yet so much love, dance and passionate worship. Not to speak about the amazing signs and wonders they experience.
I’ve written about Congo before, it’s a country the Lord has put on my heart. It began several years ago when I got so upset hearing about that our cell phones and computers have financed the devastating Congolese war that has killed 6 million people. Thousands of women have been raped, and every day aroung 1500 people die because of the malnutrition and diseases the war produces – half of them children. What does the Kingdom of Christ means in such a horrible situation?
Well, it means everything.
The worship in the video above is amazing. The passion, the love, the zeal – it makes me breathless. Many of these people have experienced things that are unimaginable for me. And yet they do not question the goodness of God, instead they seek it more intensely.
My heart is bleeding for the Congolese people. For the last fifteen years, they have suffered from the deadliest conflict since World War Two. Over six million people have died, and every day 1500 more join them because of the malnutrition and epidemics that follows the war. Half of them are children below the age of five. Tens of thousands of women have been raped by soldiers, since sexual violence is used as a weapon. And right now, the conflict is escalating because of the formation of a new rebel group, called M23. Its leader, Bosco Ntaganda, is wanted by the International Criminal Court for war crimes and crimes against humanity, and his nickname is “the Terminator”.
Three things especially disturb me concerning this gigantic humanitarian crisis. Firstly, people talk and act like the genocide in Rwanda is over, when in fact it just jumped across the border to Congo. Some of the Hutu genocidaires formed a militia named FDLR that is still active in the Congo. The M23 are Tutsis, so these groups want to kill each other, while they fight the government of Rwanda and the government of Congo respectively. The international community was criticized for lack of action in 1994, still they allow six million more to die.
Secondly, 90% of these people are Christians. Not only the victims, but also the soldiers who kill and rape and steal. How could the church fail to the point that its members started to commit these awful atrocities against each other? What happened to peace? What happened to love?
Finally, this conflict is financed by the phone I am writing this text on. The same is true for many computers, cameras and other electronic devices. You see, the conflict is concentrated to the eastern provinces of North and South Kivu. These are extremely rich of minerals, many which are used in electronics. Rebel groups like FDLR and M23 take control over the mines and tax the workers to buy food and guns for their soldiers. This has been known for years, still the conflict mineral trade has continued to flourish.