Reflections on Congo

Post a Comment » Written on November 20th, 2012     
Filed under: Missionary Update, News & Updates
Below is a blog written by Christine Buettgen who currently serves as a short-term missionary in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Working with community development programs to support marginalized women in the northwest region of the DRC, she recently completed her M.A. in International Development. Christine has also completed training in tropical agricultural development at Educational Concern for Hunger Organization (ECHO) as well as a course through Community Health Evangelism (CHE). She is a member of Winnetka Covenant Church in Wilmette, IL. Christine will continue writing blogs for us in the future; keeping us up to date on the situation in DRC.

Christine Buettgen

The Congolese people struggle daily to meet their immediate needs. Everyday I am approached by people who don’t have enough to eat, who have only one set of clothing, or have no idea where they will find money this month to pay their kid’s school fees. These are people who are so focused on day to day survival that things like good education and clean water are issues they are often too tired and preoccupied to fight for. This is the reality of life for the average person in Gemena, DR Congo.

As a foreigner being challenged by all these immediate needs, it would be easy to spend the entirety of my time here giving money away to meet each and every request I am confronted with. But our church has been a presence in this country for 75 years, and it seems important that I honor that work that has been done here by carrying it on in ways that transform Congo, even as I am transformed by the experience.

The Covenant missionaries and the staff of World Vision Congo are working hard to put together programs that will empower, train, and build capacity. We believe that facilitating learning that empowers and strengthens the community will leave a sustainable legacy of strong leadership and development. Let me give you an example.

I attended one of the meetings that World Vision Director Bob Kisyula held when he was in Gemena a few weeks ago. He had called leaders from all of the different World Vision community partners to come together and learn more about their partnership model. The training showed the importance of community ownership, and shared statistics on the state of the Congolese economy in comparison to other areas of the world. One point Bob shared that was particularly striking was that the DRC has the land and growing potential to feed the entire world. So, he asked community leaders, why is it that we are having trouble feeding ourselves when all the resources we need are in our hands?

We hope that by asking these critical questions, patterns of thinking about the state of poverty in this region will begin to change.

Pray for the growth of these seeds of change being planted in the minds and hearts of the Congolese people.

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