A New Generation of Peacemakers
Have you ever wondered how to shape a generation of peacemakers who have grown up in the heart of a hate-filled war zone? Congo Peace believes that with God's help, generations of tribal animosity can be healed and that hostile groups can move from a divided past to a shared future of stability and peace.
Inspired by the moving and often tragic life stories of many refugees in their New Hope community, Bellevue Presbyterian Church (BelPres) in Bellevue, WA, has committed to work for reconciliation in Minembwe, East Congo. Over the last few years, the BelPres community has faithfully provided for emergency life-saving aid, supported reconciliation seminars to bring healing to warring tribes, and offered opportunities for vocational and entrepreneurial training. Through these efforts, many critical needs have been met and inspired many diverse communities, but we have observed that the root problem –the source of so much tribal animosity in this region– is broken spirits and poverty.
Recently, a group of leaders from BelPres and New Hope launched a new non-profit organization called Congo Peace, to better lead this peacemaking effort. The focus of Congo Peace is to break the chronic cycle of economic poverty, violence, and tribal animosity in East Congo. In partnership with multi-tribal African leadership, Congo Peace is excited to share that construction (second photo) has begun on a unique vocational training school in Bukavu, the regional capital! "New Hope Academy," will offer a one-year residential training program for motivated students. The purpose of the school is for young women and men from hostile tribes to live together while learning entrepreneurial skills, vocational expertise, and ethical leadership in an environment of reconciliation and Christian love.
This educational program will provide the focus of Congo Peace's efforts to transform East Congo, by training up a generation of young leaders who will bring peace, prosperity, and dignity to those who call this region "home."
On April 2nd, Palm Sunday, Congo Peace invites you to participate in a special offering to help with the construction of New Hope Academy. This offering will also provide necessary equipment and furnishings for the school.
One day after school in Minembwe, a multi-tribal group of orphaned youth were returning to their shelter in the Minembwe Reconciliation Center, completed last year by Congo Peace. They encountered a village boy who asked them, "Why are you staying at the Reconciliation Center with 'all those people?'" And to this, they proudly answered, "What do you mean by calling them 'those people?' These people are our family!"
God willing, these young people will one day become part of the student body of New Hope Academy in Bukavu. They will learn together as they live and play together, gaining skills which will help to break the chronic cycle of poverty, violence, and tribal animosity. They will then bring their training back home to work for the restoration of Minembwe, and beyond. By their example, their living witness, they will lead diverse tribes into the experience of Jesus' healing reconciliation and love.
When describing God's Peaceable Kingdom, the Old Testament prophet Isaiah uses an image of nature tamed and living in peace, all led by a child (Isaiah 11). In anticipation of this fulfillment, through Congo Peace's work with the youth of Minembwe, we are living into that vision of hope for peace. We know that this is God's deep desire for all of Congo [DRC] and beyond.