A diverse team of 12 Presbyterians will journey to Goma, on the eastern border of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, on January 27, to take part in a 10-day World Mission travel-study seminar. This pilgrimage of hope and solidarity is designed to promote understanding of the impact of conflict and sexual violence in this volatile region and to enable Presbyterians to learn best practices for accompanying the Church of Christ in Congo in ministering to survivors of violence.
Participants will have opportunities to hear firsthand from survivors of rape and to observe grassroots initiatives of women leaders of the Church of Christ in Congo to address the multiple needs of trauma survivors. Members of the group expect to visit a wide variety of individuals and locales, including:
- “Listening Homes” in rural areas;
- Congregational ministries that help to bind the wounds of conflict and promote reconciliation;
- Hospitals where survivors receive prenatal care and surgical fistula repair;
- Medical personnel who can share updates about sexual violence and emerging therapies;
- Church-affiliated lawyers who challenge the impunity of perpetrators;
- An interreligious network mobilizing against sexual violence;
- Representatives from Congolese civil society and field extension workers of the US-based Enough Project to learn more about conflict minerals, the US Dodd-Frank legislation and the conflict-free movement;
- Stakeholders in a certified mining operation; and
- A fair-trade coffee farmers’ cooperative involved in the Equal Exchange Congo Coffee Project, which supports programs of health and healing for rape survivors.
Participants will share their experiences and insights, as well as stories of the courageous witness of our partners and allies in Eastern Congo, on the PC(USA) Reconciliation blog, beginning January 27, so you, too, can be a part of the experience. Please check back regularly for these reflections and share the link with others in your congregation.
Also, please pray for all that God has planned for this journey. In particular, pray for open hearts and minds, that all of the participants—those from the USA and those from the DRC—may understand one another well despite linguistic and cultural boundaries and may discern together the ways in which God is calling us to work in unison to halt violence and promote reconciliation and justice. Please pray for strength, courage, and insight for travelers and hosts alike, and for protection and safety for the people of Eastern Congo.
Learn more about World Mission’s Speak Up! Stop Sexual Violence campaign led by Shannon Beck, reconciliation catalyst.
Speak Up! Join the PC(USA) campaign to stop sexual violence by contacting Shannon Beck via email.