A prayer to God from the psalmist, Asaph: “Have respect unto Your covenant: for the dark places of the earth are full of the habitations of cruelty. O let not the repressed return ashamed: let the poor and needy praise You. Arise, O God, plead Your own cause.” Psalm 74:20-22
The world needs hope physically, emotionally, and spiritually, but does the Congo truly possess these gifts of hope that the world so desperately needs? How is it possible that the country that has suffered from the most devastating war in modern history have anything to give? And who has the strength and political authority needed to bring about such a gift of hope?
This war that began in the fall of 1996 is called The Great War of Africa. It has claimed the lives of more than five million people and has left behind physically and emotionally shattered rape victims, several million women. And the fuel for the decades of conflict is wealth, unimaginable wealth.
Physical Hope. Congo has what the world needs, but it also has what only the greedy and powerful have the capability of manipulating and exploiting. Congo has an unlimited supply of water from the Congo River. The force of its flow is capable of producing clean, renewable energy that could light the planet. This country in the heart of the African continent has rich, fertile soil and a dependable climate, capable of growing food to feed the world. It has an abundant tropical forest that could build homes and create priceless art. But the riches of the Congo that fuels its conflict reside mostly underground. Minerals such as copper, gold, diamonds, cobalt, uranium, and coltan, as well as the ever-in-demand oil.
But how are these needy ingredients for the gift of hope from Congo to the world to be accessed and properly utilized if only the greedy and powerful are capable of getting their hands on it? How can the struggle for this control, fought mostly in the eastern part of the country, be ceased? Who has the necessary strength to pull off such a task? Is there no hope?
The need to stop the fighting is the primary first step, and here I can only quote a prophecy from David in Psalm 46:9-10, “He makes war to cease unto the ends of the earth; He breaks the bow, and cuts the spear asunder; He burns the chariot in the fire. (And then this decree) Be still (stop fighting), and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.” Is this future kingdom of God on earth really the essential key to stopping the conflict in Congo and making available its resources as a gift to the world? I say, “Yes!” These trilogy, prophetic psalms of 46, 47, & 48 hint that one day the kings of the earth will bring their treasures into this future kingdom. Why wouldn’t Congo be one of them?
Emotional hope. What can eastern Congo teach the world about healing from trauma and violence? The Congolese people as a whole, as well as the millions of victims of rape, have learned how to heal themselves emotionally. Many organizations in Eastern are coming along side these victims and offering the hope of healing through permitting them to speak openly of their experiences. In their villages they are stigmatized due to their past. At a support group in South Kivu, one survivor stated: “This is the first time that we have been given the space to talk openly with others who have been through the same traumatic experience. I don’t feel alone anymore. I feel safe and supported here.”
So, is community one ingredient in the healing process? If so, why do so many in the western culture tend to isolate themselves instead of reaching out for help? The Congolese custom of mourning together, singing together, working together, and ministering together are key strategies in the healing process that many cultures could emulate. Whether the trauma, devastation, and violence lays in the past, or lurks in the future, the opportunity to learn of emotional healing from this resilient people is an incredibly powerful gift to the world.
A future eternal hope. The passage quoted at the beginning of this article starts with darkness and despair but ends with hope. What is this hope? Redemption. An opportunity for the poor and needy to praise God. The time for the last to become first and for the meek to inherit the earth. Could the Congo really offer the gift of eternal hope to a battle-weary world? I say, “Yes!” The Congolese know the Lord. They are conversant in scripture, and they are fearless when it comes to sharing the truth.
One day, Jesus has promised to return to earth, not as a Savior, but as the King of kings. The earth will be still, stop fighting, and acknowledge the truth of His authority to reign, His capability to bring lasting peace to this planet worn out through endless fighting and conflict. Yes, the Congo can offer the gift of eternal hope to the world. The question will be whether the world will be ready to accept such a priceless gift.
I propose that the Congo, the country that has been exploited for its wealth for centuries, will one day rise to the top. This nation will have the opportunity to enter the world stage, not as victims but as victors. The Congo will be ready to offer physical hope, emotional hope, and eternal hope to the world’s people.
*bbc.com DR Congo: Cursed by Its Natural Wealth, October 9, 2013
*elrha.org Healing Psychological Scars in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, International Rescue Committee.