Thursday, December 29, 2011

Report warns unrest could spread in Congo

(In Focus screen grab from Congo protest)

Congo-Kinshasa (MNN) ―The electoral commission in the Democratic Republic of Congo has called for backup.
In the chaos following the presidential and parliamentary vote, they're waiting for help from the United States and Britain before resuming the  ballot count in the parliamentary elections.  

Accusations of ballot-rigging have plagued the presidential election, and with roughly 19 000 candidates vying for one of the 500 seats in the National Assembly, the commission is taking no chances. The results of the parliamentary polls are due to be announced on January 13.

A cloud of doubt remains over the announced results from the presidential election. Both the European Union and the U.S. State Department have also expressed severe reservations about the vote's legitimacy, although the country's Supreme Court validated the results.

With that green light, Joseph Kabila was sworn in for another term in office as president of DR Congo eight days ago. In his first week in office, he's faced a public relations nightmare. A Human Rights Watch report lays blame for the deaths of at least 24 people on Congolese security forces. 

Even as he reportedly promised to safeguard national unity, tanks were to prevent protests. Meanwhile, Opposition leader Etienne Tshisekedi maintains he won the poll and had himself sworn in December 23. As a result, there were concerns that post-election violence could spread.

Although the region is one of the biggest and oldest fields for Grace Ministries International, Sam Vinton says so far, they've not been disrupted. "I think that in the Eastern Congo area, where we work from the main cities, I've heard of no real conflict. We've had no communications of any adverse effect on our ministries."

As for the warning of spreading violence, Vinton says it's unlikely to spread to the area where they're working. "A lot of the people in the area where most of our churches are located were probably pro-president (Kabila). But I think in the area of central Congo, where the main opposition is located, I can see that area being in torment and a lot of trouble."

The upheaval has had very little negative impact on their latest evangelistic outreach. In fact,  "It's just amazing how the response continues. We've run out of the 'Book of Hope,' and yet we're showing the DVD of the 'GodMan' and also working in the actual schools. The last report is that close to 4000 students have trusted Christ as their Savior."

4,000 more students coming to Christ, needing discipleship, and a local church body. The GMI team is scrambling to keep up with the demand, because they've run out of everything, and they're trying to get the local churches ready for the onslaught of new believers.

God's hand is all over this project which started with a goal of hoping to see 1000 accept Christ. A year down the road, God has answered beyond their wildest imaginations. "The responsiveness of the students is a remarkable thing when we look back a number of years when it wasn't there. We're pushing forward. We have a team of nine men who are doing this work, and we're just trying to get more funding so that we can keep them going."

It's clear that despite the bullhorns of the rallies and the political jockeying going on, that the voice being heard loudest is the Still Small One.   

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