Greetings From Gisenyi, Rwanda
Greetings to you brothers and sisters in the name of our Saviour and Lord Jesus. It is now one year and eleven months since I was sent by CBM to work with a new partner in Congo which is called “Baptist Churches Community in Eastern Congo”. This denomination had been split in two since 1997 until 2018 due to ethnic conflict where one group was called the majority and the second group the minority. During that time of division, they worked separately with separate leaders and separate headquarters. In the last ministry update that I sent to you was during the height of COVID. Today, the number of those infected is decreasing because more people are getting vaccinated and are respecting the restrictions. Today in Rwanda, more than 2,700,000 have received both doses and more than 5 million have had at least one vaccination. The same is in Congo where people are now getting vaccinated. There is hope that this process will be a way of diminishing the consequences of getting COVID.
For this, we thank God for how he is using different researchers in matters of health through different countries in the world so that people can have access to vaccinations. We are also thankful for countries around the world who are helping each other so that everyone can get the vaccination. We see the solidarity among God’s people in addressing this issue of COVID. Pray so that this willingness will continue to grow through the entire world.
What has been going on with the Peace and Reconciliation Ministry in DR Congo?
1.The first cohort of 72 people have been trained on five modules. As I presented in my last update, in 2020, in collaboration with Dr. Carla, we finished writing the twelve modules related to Peace and Reconciliation. These are:
- Peacebuilding introduction
- Humans in God’s purpose
- Celebrating our differences
- Conflict management
- Restorative justice
- Trauma healing
- Servant leadership
- Care of the creation as a way of building peace
During that year in collaboration with CEBCE, the Leaders chose 72 people from different backgrounds of work but also from the former two parties in conflict who had come to reunification in 2018. We facilitated 5 modules where they came to understand that they lost many years fighting for nothing.
They decided to work together and see how they could reinforce their new initiative of reunification.
2. As the year 2021 began, we worked with 21 TOT.
In collaboration with CEBCE’s leaders, we decided to train 21 TOTs on all twelve of the modules so that they will disseminate what they will have learned to other ecclesiastic districts or in different sectors of CEBCE.
The beneficiaries were the actual CEBCE leaders who came from the two antagonist groups, with heads of departments and some head teachers. As well, some influential pastors in Goma who were the formers CEBCE’s top leaders and who were active in different aspects of those conflicts also participated. As we were facilitating the modules with the 21 TOT’s, they came to repent between themselves as they knew the harm they caused between themselves. After confessing their sin, they repented and hugged as a sign of leaving what had brought them to division.
3. At the end of October, the TOTs finished the twelve modules.
After 7 months of training involving a lot of sessions from those modules, we came to the end of the training. The former leaders who led at different times of the division consolidated this unification. The willingness of the current leaders to integrate those former leaders was really a sign of reunification and reconciliation. It seems that most of the TOTs were those who were on the forefront of division of the community. But now their thinking and behavior have changed a lot. In their testimonies, they spoke of having learned a new way of reading the Bible and of regretting the time they had spent in division.
They are now going to do assignments in which they find a target group where they will present some of the modules and will report the outcome in May 2022. And after that, we will celebrate their achievement together and they will receive a certificate. We hope that the TOTs will be able to train more than a hundred people. We also gave them material to help with their endeavour.
4. A New Relation Between CBCA and CEBCE
We thank God for this new opportunity which came to bring together the CBCA and CEBCE. The two denominations are the result of another division which happened in 1959. Before the two denominations existed it was one mission called the “Conservative Baptist Foreign Mission Society” also known as the Baptist Mission in Kivu. The one mission become two denominations over a few issues. Relationships were not very warm and most were living in suspicion of one another. The initiative of bringing them together in dialogue through CBM allowed them to come together and address some issues of building peace in North Kivu. In response to the ethnic violence and volcanic eruption, they advocated by providing food, kits and clothes to women and children. It is our hope that because they are the two largest Baptist denominations in the area, they will be an example and influence the communities to live together in peace.
I thank God that CBM, through this ministry of Peacebuilding and Reconciliation, is seeing the start of true reconciliation among people who were enemies and antagonists.
Outcomes of the partnership between the CEBCE and CBCA was to respond to the needs of people of Buhene who were in ethnic conflict and affected by the volcanic eruption.
We believe that the one who triumphed over death will also end COVID-19 so that we can continue to be used by God in his mission.
Here is an overview of the activities we are planning for 2022:
- With CEBCE, we are planning to train 10 heads, 10 heads of women departments and also 10 heads of youth in CEBCE’s ecclesiastics districts.
- We will continue to encourage CEBCE’S leaders in integral mission.
- Work with CBCA and CEBCE by encouraging them in the initiative of working together and learning from each other but also addressing the issue of cohabitation among the tribes in North Kivu.
- Work with CBCA in reinforcing justice, peace and care for the environment.
- Work with the AEBR in Rwanda in assessing the new way of addressing a peacebuilding program according to the new way the government wants to promote Rwandan unity.
- Work with FEBAC in South Sudan to see how we can implement a peacebuilding program in the denomination and help to bring true cohabitation within the South Sudanese people.
- Hope for the possibility of visiting our office and partners in Canada
I thank the CBM Leaders in how they supported me in this work by providing advice through different meetings, materials, and finances so that I was able to accomplish the milestones during the past few years and particularly 2021.
I also appreciate my colleagues on the CBM Africa Team – how we are close and each one is really an inspiration to what I am doing.
The inspiration of Dr. Carla has helped me a lot.
I appreciate also different partners who supported me through CBM in this ministry. It was really encouraging to see in every monthly report how people were contributing to this ministry. Your emails of encouragement gave me more strength and more encouragement to move ahead even when COVID-19 was ravaging our world.
Your prayers and financial support have enabled CBM to support Africa partner churches in accomplishing their mission through different drivers, including that of Peace and Reconciliation at this critical time of war, ethnic division, oppression on social classes and poverty.