United Methodists in the Democratic Republic of Congo, with assistance from partners in Switzerland and France, secretly distributed food and other assistance to people displaced by rebel violence. The church team also brought some widows and orphans into a safer area.
The secrecy was out of fear that Mai-Mai Malika rebels would take the food and salt, conference officials who went on the relief mission said.
Twelve orphans were brought to a church orphanage in Kindu, but because space was scare, many are living with host families. Marie Claire Unda, East Congo Area Bishop Gabriel Yemba Unda’s wife, gathers the orphans for Bible study and meals twice a week.
Heritier Kimenya said the church’s help means the orphans are no longer afraid. “We now have parents because they sent a car to pick us up and take us back to Kindu. We are happy to be part of God's children in The United Methodist Church,” he said.
More than 1.9 million people were newly displaced in Congo in 2017, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.
In the East Congo Episcopal Area, Connexio, a network for service of The United Methodist Church of Switzerland and France, has helped the episcopal area provide help to some of those people. Assistance was made to Kabambare territory residents who fled to Kasongo, Luhudi, Scememas, Lubao, Mutumba, Kimbulu and Malela, following the insurrection of Mai Mai Malaika rebels.
Kabambare, an area with more than 500,000 inhabitants, has experienced insecurity following insurgency of Mai-Mai Malaika rebels.
The aid was distributed in December.
Sakina Asina, who lost her 5-year-old child due to lack of medical care after arrival in Kasongo, expressed her gratitude for the help.
“I did not know how to feed them. Therefore, I fled and my child died for lack of care. The child being sick, I could not harvest in the fields because of this Mai-Mai insurrection. I have no words to express my appreciation for this gift of The United Methodist Church. I ask God fill the pocket who provided for us. Continue to pray for us,” she said.
Connexio's assistance covered all districts areas of the episcopal region and the team brought 12 orphans back from Samba to Kindu.
The church team visited the chief of Samba to present courtesies and brief him about their activities.
Out of the 121 identified households, 117 households have lost their homes because of the Mai-Mai attacks and are living with other families. And some children under 12 and pregnant women have died due to lack of medical care, said conference officials who went on the relief mission.
The Rev. Augustin Bosenga preached at a ceremony that included a word of thanks from the local chief. Bosenga, superintendent for the Kasongo-Samba District preached from Matthew 25: 35-36, emphasizing: “I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink.”
Each household has about eight members and received 62 kilograms of rice and 13.6 kilograms of iodized salt, as well as other items. Clothes and mattresses were given to some.
Those who received the aid were overjoyed.
"I am a Muslim. I am surprised by this assistance from The United Methodist Church. It is a first that I have received since I moved here to Samba,” said Ousmane Rachidi. “I thank The United Methodist Church for this gesture. And may God bless pastors and members of The United Methodist Church who have especially thought of me as a Muslim."
The Rev. Omba Djamba, manager of the relief project, said it will continue with an emphasis on risk prevention, especially among women and children.
The Rev. Paul Ketoka, Connexio contact, proposed the creation of a database on all health and security issues of the displaced to facilitate Bishop Unda’s advocacy with the authorities.
Osongo Yanga is the director of communications for the East Congo Episcopal Area of The United Methodist Church. News media contact: Vicki Brown at (615) 742-5470 or firstname.lastname@example.org. To read more United Methodist news, subscribe to the free Daily or Weekly Digests.