Recently, the Southern Baptist Convention was presented with a progress report from The Great Commission Resurgence Task Force. This group of leaders was charged with examining the way that the Southern Baptist denomination views, and executes against, Christ’s command to make disciples of all the nations. Many believe that the denomination will move to make significant, and extraordinary, changes this summer to create an environment of unity and co-operation that will lead to a recommitment, a resurgence, to the fulfillment of the Great Commission. Their goal: “To present the gospel of Jesus Christ to every person in the world and to make disciples of all nations”.
That is a huge challenge…one that a single denomination cannot complete alone. We believe that God has called howFar Ministries to participate in the fulfillment of the Great Commission, shoulder to shoulder, in partnership with other God-centered evangelical denominations and agencies.
As of this writing, there are no Southern Baptist missionaries working in Burundi or in The Democratic Republic of the Congo. The DRC is the third largest country on the Africa Continent. Nearly 80 million people live in these two countries. We have accepted the call and God has placed howFar Ministries in these two countries. To date, we have planted two churches in Burundi and one in the DRC in the Kivu District. Our plan is to push deeper into the heart of the DRC this summer with the saving gospel message of Jesus Christ.
The northeastern region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo is a difficult place for missionaries. Ongoing clashes with Rwandan Hutu rebels has caused a destabilization of the region. However, the gospel message must continue to go out and, in times of trial, hearts are open.
Here is an update on the situation in the area near Gome where we are working in partnership with Congolese leaders.
GOMA, 1 March 2010 (IRIN) – For the many thousands of people displaced by conflict in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo’s Kivu regions who have returned to their villages, home has its many hardships.
“Return has not always been durable, as the reduction of food rations in camps [for displaced people - IDPs] and the arrival of the new planting season rather than any improvement in security have led people to go back,” the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) stated in a 24 February report.
“Many people returned home to find their land occupied, while renewed clashes in return areas also forced people to flee again soon after their arrival home,” it said.
Across eastern DRC, “access to basic necessities … has deteriorated over the last year in the context of military operations and reprisals and continuing abuses against the population. The vast majority of IDPs and returnees have no access to health centres and schools, or to clean water, food, seeds, tools or building materials,” according to the report.
A boy pokes his head through a hole in the tarpaulin that acts as the wall of his classroom in an IDP camp in Minova, DRC Photo: Aubrey Graham/IRIN
During 2009, according to IDMC, about a million people returned to their villages in North and South Kivu – about the same number who fled because of clashes, mainly between government forces and Rwandan Hutu rebels.
In North and South Kivu, there are 1.36 million IDPs, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).
A woman on the road to the market Photo: Nicholai Lidow/IRIN
In the North Kivu capital of Goma, some 77,000 people live in IDP camps, against about twice that number two years ago.
“Many have gone back to their land, and we are getting noises that more want to return,” Masti Notz, head of the UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR, in North Kivu told IRIN.
“Positive change is progressively taking place in Eastern DRC,” Alan Doss, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General, wrote in the East African newspaper on 1 March.
Please pray for our work, for the believers in the DRC, for our Batwa church at Mudja and for a harvest in the region.