The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC, formerly known as Zaire) might be the poorest country in the world. It’s a place of both abundant natural resources and abject misery. Located in the heart of Africa, the DRC is surrounded by ten other nations, including Angola, Tanzania, Uganda, South Sudan, and Rwanda. Africa’s second-largest country (by land area), it’s home to 80 million people.
The DRC should be a prosperous nation, with its flowing rivers (and their ability to generate hydroelectric power), fertile soil, and rich mineral resources. It is not.
The government is corrupt and unstable. There is little infrastructure. Unemployment tops 50%. The mineral wealth, used in making cell phones and other electronic devices, has been more of a curse than a blessing. Fierce fighting has raged for decades over control of the mines.
Over 40 different militias terrorize the countryside, robbing, enslaving, maiming, and murdering innocent civilians—the deadliest warfare since WWII. It has been estimated that 50 women are raped every hour. That, and the fact that 13 out of every 1,000 mothers will die in childbirth, has earned the DRC a reputation as the worst place on earth to be a woman.
Healthcare is largely nonexistent. HIV/AIDS is prevalent. Ebola is a constant menace, with a new outbreak reported just this month. One out of every seven children dies before reaching age five, often due to malnutrition. Safe drinking water is as rare as adequate sanitation facilities. Half the country’s children are not in school.
To add to the burden, the Congo contains hundreds of thousands of displaced persons who live in squalid camps. You may remember the genocidal war in Rwanda between the Hutu and Tutsi tribes. When the fighting officially ended in 1994, nearly 2 million refugees crossed the border into the DNC. Among them were Hutu soldiers, bent on continuing their murderous rampage.
There have been numerous efforts to address these and other issues. Health workers risk their lives, and many humanitarian organizations have pulled out of the war-torn nation. Education is difficult when much of the population is displaced, or simply trying to survive. Besides, as an Indian friend of ours once said, “An educated scoundrel is still a scoundrel!” The UN Organization Mission in the Congo is the largest and costliest peacekeeping mission in UN history. The US, the European Union, and the African Union have all pursued a regional peace process.
So far, nothing has worked.
Enter Eden Mission, a holistic Christian ministry being used by God to make a real difference in this hell on earth. It was started in 1998 by a missionary from Uganda, who trusted God enough to bring his wife and two young daughters to a country most were fleeing. With a goal of “healthy families glorifying God,” the ministry has slowly grown to serve families in the Congo, Rwanda, Burundi, South Sudan, and Tanzania.
These humble workers first help families by leading them to Jesus, the true source of healing. They are embraced and discipled by the local church. Then, with vocational training and micro-enterprise funding, they are enabled to support themselves. Finally, these families are encouraged to reach out to others in the same way. Their mission is to “improve the spiritual, physical and economic health of families so that they can in turn help other families like them.”
Trying to end the DRC’s never-ending war by secular means is bound to fail because the true issues are spiritual. It’s God’s love and forgiveness that will stop the hating. It’s God’s transforming power that will reform the corruption.
Eden Mission is a ministry that is making a tremendous difference in the lives of people forgotten by most of the world. It is worthy of our generous support.