Greetings From a Locked Down Gisenyi, Rwanda
Greetings to you brothers and sisters in the name of our Saviour and Lord Jesus. It is now two months and fifteen days since we relocated from the East Province (Rwamagana), where we spent 10 months after our relocation from Kampala, to West Province in Gisenyi/Rubavu near the border of Democratic Republic of Congo in the purpose of joining my new Ministry assignment with Community of Baptist Churches in Eastern Congo (CEBCE) in Goma, DR Congo.
Since March 20, we have been confined in our home due to the Corona Virus and are living with our children who have come from their different schools and universities. We praise the Lord for having them with us so that every evening we are having Bible study with them and on Sunday we organize an at home church service.
Today in our country, 138 people are infected by Covid-19 and are under treatment while another 60 people have recovered from this virus and are back at home. As it becomes a serious problem, we leave ourselves in His hands for we know He will deliver us from this pandemic. We pray also for those who are in hospitals so that God will deliver them and heal them. Song of Songs 2:10-12
What has Been Going on With Peace and Reconciliation Ministry in DR Congo?
Introduction to a New Workplace with Community of Baptist Church in Eastern Congo (CEBCE)
Since mid-December 2019, CBM’s Africa team Leader, Andre Sibomana, and I have met several times with the Leadership of CEBCE to finalize the Memorandum of Understanding between CBM & CEBCE and on Dec 26, 2019 the MoU was signed by CBM representative John Chan, Director of International Partnerships and two Leaders of CEBCE. On January 23, several Leaders of CEBCE received me.
CEBCE began through the evangelism of American Missionaries which came from Conservative Baptist Foreign Mission Society started in 1928. The actual CEBCE were divided in two groups in 1997. Most of the cause of their division was along tribal lines and a lack of strong leadership. They identified themselves as Majority and Minority. It was 21 years of division with two parallel leadership. Many people have worked for their reconciliation, even I took initiative to meet the two sides separately for their reconciliation. By God grace, they have come to reunification. During their Celebration of Reunification in December 2018, they invited me to preach at this big meeting of more than 7000 people. Last year, Terry was invited by our partner CBCA in Goma to address 700 pastors. It was where the CEBCE leaders met Terry and told him about their desire for reunification and their need for assistance to reach this goal. They asked Terry if CBM could find it possible to send me to aid in this process. For the different meetings, CBM sent me to be their representative, in that ministry of sustaining this reconciliation of CEBCE.
After our first day of meetings with the CEBCE Leaders, I was next introduced to the CEBEC office staff which is around 26 people. After a time of devotions, a group of Reverends brought me to my new office which was well prepared with all the necessary equipment. Their prayer was a blessing for me and to do good work but also build good relationships and to achieve good results in this new role with them. They prayed for a fruitful partnership with CBM.
Basic Assessment with Different CEBCE Departments in Purpose of Having the Clear Understanding of the Causes of 21 Years of Their Division and What They are Expecting to Their Reunification
I met with five groups to begin to understand the causes of the division of CEBEC. The photo above is one of the groups which included on my left the Director of Development, who has a lot of activities on his job description. On my right, the Director of Education with more than 560 schools (primary and secondary schools) but with a lot of problems in infrastructure. The other person is the Director of Health, with more than 85 medical structures (hospitals and Health centers). It was helpful to talk with them and receive the questionnaires on which they responded. At the end of our assessment we had a meeting to present the findings from all the different groups who responded. From their responses they agreed to the findings.
Those are the Major Findings of Their Division Which Need to be Addressed for Sustaining Their Reunification
They identified they need to:
- Address Tribalism as a serious problem among the brothers and sisters of CEBCE.
- Provide training for strong Leadership and good governance
- Provide education for the good management of funds and resources
- Respond to moral and spiritual questions
- Identify Poverty as part of their division
We are now discussing the way forward, looking for lasting solutions to address those 5 findings.
Facilitating Retreat of CEBCE Executive Committee and Districts Youth Leaders in South Kivu/ Bukavu, 200kms from Goma
After reunification of CEBCE in 2018 between what they called majority and minority came the first time for the President of the denomination and his deputy to be together in that area. The area was mostly led by the minority, the actual Vice President. The Executive Committee went there to this meeting but at the same time I was invited to join them as Chaplain of that meeting and facilitate some topics related to Peace and Reconciliation. The group was 60 people who attended that executive committee. The two former sides were represented. I facilitated two topics in which I encouraged them to celebrate our differences and then to understand being used as humans in God’s purpose. In both workshops participants really were excited and people repented their behavior in the period of division. It was really a good time.
The 2020 Plan in the Perspective
We believe that the one who triumphed over death will finish this Corona Virus. Let us continue to trust our God and Saviour.
Among the activities we are planning:
- Finish writing the different topics of the Peace and Reconciliation curriculum and then edit them for the use by CBM’s partners in Africa.
- Work with CEBCE leaders to find a sustainable solution from assessment findings.
- Working with different CEBCE Departments, encouraging them to be catalyst of Peace.
A word of Appreciation
Your prayers and financial support have enabled CBM in accompanying Africa partners’ churches to accomplish their mission through different programs. CBM works in the areas of Poverty, Kids at Risk, Building the Church, Emergency Relief and relating to my work, the area of Justice. The Peace and Reconciliation work is needed at this critical time of war, ethnic division, oppression between social classes and poverty.