It happened again. This time it was 33 women. While people around the world celebrated the beginning of a new year and the hope of change in 2011, 33 women in Eastern Congo went through hell on earth as armed men took their turns raping and brutalizing their bodies, some in front of their children. Chaos erupted and sent residents of the village attacked on a running spree.
In Eastern Congo, in the surrounding areas of the city Goma, which sits along Lake Kivu on the boarder of the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda, rape is used as a weapon of war. This war has been raging in this area for 15 years. The result? Over 5 million violent deaths, countless rapes, a nonexistent education system and a lack of trusted, secure government officials. This is the worst humanitarian crisis since WWII.
Fortunately, Jesus is alive and on the move in the midst of the devil’s playground in Congo. Fortunately God has eyes and sees what’s taking place. Fortunately, the Holy Spirit is blowing through the land and working hard to bring the Kingdom of Heaven down on top of the evil that exists.
I know this because last night I had the honor and privilege of spending some time listening to dear friends of mine, Camille* and Esther Ntoto share stories of reconciliation, surrender, forgiveness, love, unity, resilience and modern day miracles all taking place right now in this land. The Ntoto’s live in Goma and see the struggles of their own people day in and day out. The devil never takes a day off unfortunately. But neither does God and he has the last word.
I sat and listened to Esther and Camille go on and on about stories of the Kingdom come to Earth and people transformed by the Word of God and by the power of the risen Christ. I felt a host of emotions as I soaked it all in. I was saddened by the reality of life for so many in Eastern Congo it made me physically hurt. At the same time, I was in awe of hearing of the ways God’s glory is shining through the darkness. It’s a weird concept to be hurt, angry and confused knowing that other people are experiencing such pain, despair and hell at it’s worst while also knowing and believing God’s kingdom work being done regardless.
The idea that the kingdom of God has come to Earth, even now before the return of Christ, is incomprehensible to me. Sure I believe it because I see evidence of it in my life as well as in others such as with the Ntoto’s. But the significance of that is humbling, overwhelming and in the words of the rainbow guy, intense!
So tonight I’m still heartbroken and a little tore up about the pure ugliness happening to the beautiful Congolese people. And I’m also praising God for his compassion, his caring acts of mercy and restoration and for friends like Esther and Camille who live out the hope they have received in Jesus and who are witnesses to Christ in a broken place in much need of healing.
I’m stripping the academics from the kingdom of heaven and reveling in its reality tonight. I’m longing to have both feet in the kingdom opposed to one in and one out in this world in this moment. I’m believing that God has already called Congo his nation and the Congolese his people and he will continue to usher in his will, his goodness and his plans of greatness into that land.
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
Your Kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as in heaven
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins,
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power and the glory are yours.
Now and for ever. Amen