BEGINNINGS – Congo Initiative
Africa’s deeply troubled and broken heart, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), is today beginning to emerge from 8 years of brutal civil war (often described as Africa’s first World War), four decades of misrule, and the total collapse of its economy and civil society. The second largest nation in Africa, and abundantly endowed with agricultural, mineral, hydroelectric and other resources, DRC is without question the most strategic country on that continent. Its choices, direction and future will significantly influence the religious, economic, and political outlook of much of the rest of Africa.
Imagine the challenges of living and raising a family in a country the size of Western Europe — a country with only 50 miles of paved roads. What does hope look like for a 50-year old who has known only how to survive under oppressive colonialism, evil dictatorship, and devastating civil war? How do you ask an 18-year old former child soldier to “dream better, and dream big” when his home is burned to the ground, his father and brothers massacred, and there are no schools to teach new thinking, new skills?
In August 2002, at the height of Congo’s civil war that was to take more than four million lives by 2004 (more than the number who died in WWII), 13 Congolese men and women — leaders representing churches, educational institutions, health services, and government–gathered in a dim, candle-lit room in the Congolese city of Beni to pray, asking one another, “What is the Congolese Church’s response? How is the Lord calling us as Christian leaders to respond to the fragmentation of church and society due to conflict, poverty and political disintegration?” This meeting was the genesis of what was to become the Congo Initiative.
By mid-2004 Congo Initiative had come into being with the formation of boards in both Congo and US, together deeply committed to partnership. Building on the initial 2002 vision, the two boards have collaboratively developed our vision, mission and values.
The foundation of our vision is that Congolese society can be transformed through strong indigenous Christian leaders who have a calling to transform their communities and their nation. As agents of change these leaders can model and introduce Kingdom values in all areas of Congolese life.
Through its core programs–the Christian Bilingual University of Congo (UCBC) and the Community Centers — Congo Initiative’s mission is therefore, to nurture and shape authentic, redemptive communities of Christ-followers, and to train, equip, and develop young men and women to be strong, indigenous Christian leaders whose calling is to transform the society in the DRC.