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Displaced pastors in Congo get BWAid help amid warfare

WASHINGTON (BP)–Displaced pastors of the Baptist Community in Central Africa (BCCA) have received help in war-torn Congo from Baptist World Aid, the relief and development arm of the Baptist World Alliance.

Congo’s “foolish and absurd war,” as BCCA legal representative Mauka Mathe Bulalo described it in a letter to the BWA, has left a trail of death at the hands of rebels and militiamen since strife broke out anew in August 1998.

The Baptist convention has lost or has been compelled to close 25 schools, 12 health centers and 50 congregations in North and South Kivu provinces during this time, Bulalo reported. Baptists have also lost two pastors and their families, more than 100 members had been killed and many women and girls have been raped, Bulalo stated.

“It is difficult to give a complete account of all the bad things that have happened since Aug. 2, 1998,” Bulalo noted.

Bulalo’s letter thanked BWAid “for the great help for those pastors who were in extreme need” to buy clothes and kitchen utensils and obtain medical care against cholera.

“[M]ore than 80 pastors continue to live outside their congregations in a very bad situation like refugees in their own country,” Bulalo reported.

There are 280 churches and more than 1 million members in this Baptist convention situated in the heart of the civil war in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

More than 46 people at Kibirizi Village were killed by gunfire or burned in their houses in January, Bulalo reported, adding that people who came to comfort the survivors two days later also were attacked and 10 of them were killed. “Currently there are more than 90,000 displaced people who live out of their homes,” Bulalo said.

Another attack at the Bambu/Kirumba village in June left more than 50 people killed and many houses burned, he reported.

“So many killings are taking place in the north and south of Kivu,” Bulalo said, “and the people are suffering a lot because there is not much help from any non-governmental organization.”

In his appeal to BWAid, Bulalo said the region’s Virunga Hospital is a key place of care for those who have been displaced, but its space is limited and its medical supplies have been depleted.

“This is an emergency situation,” Bulalo stated.

BWAid director Paul Montacute told Baptist Press, “We have similar requests from other Baptist groups in the Congo and need to continue to help those who are suffering.”

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  • Wendy Ryan