Report of the 2012 IHOPKC ACTS mission to the DR Congo
Even them I will.. make.. joyful in My house of prayer. Isaiah 56:7
The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is the poorest nation on the earth and located in the heart of the African continent. Rich in minerals and full of violent rebelgroups, the province of North Kivu in Eastern Congo has a long history of violent bloodshed and rape, earning the name 'rape capital of the world'. The conflict in Congo is the deadliest conflict since WW2, claiming over 5 million lives.
The School of Prayer
On sunday the 28th of October 2012 we (a team from the ACTS missions school at IHOPKC and a few leaders from Kenya), crossed the border into Congo. For the next two weeks we held a school of prayer in Goma, the provinvial capital of North Kivu, for leaders from various villages in the war zone of North Kivu. 32 People attended, many of them travelling through very dangerous territory to even get to Goma and attend the program.
The leaders were hungry for God and came from very desperate situations. Of course one of the big questions in their suffering was whether God still loved them or had rejected them. For two weeks we were able to study the Scriptures together, have incredible prayer and worship times together and weep in the presence of God. The result of our time in Goma was powerful: the leaders felt loved by God and saw hope restored in their lives as they got a renewed vision to partner with God in prayer for North Kivu.
With their hope ultimately anchored in Jesus return they committed to contend for justice now, and establish 10 church based houses of prayer in North Kivu.
The leaders are praying from the Scriptures, bringing responsive worship into their prayermeetings and finding joy in intimacy with a deeply caring, loving and personal God.
They were so encouraged that they planned a 3 day follow up gathering for next year to continue to build prayer in their nation. On their own initiative and at their own expense they want to gather again because their hearts were moved so deeply by the Lord!
After the school finished most of our team traveled back to Kenya, to strengthen a local house of prayer, while the guys stayed behind in Congo.
Some of the leaders in our school came from a small village named Kalembe. This village is found 7 hours driving north-west of Goma into the war zone. Though the Congolese army was fighting rebels only 9km from the village and with the threat of rebels taking Kalembe, we felt God wanted us to go there. David Sliker flew in from KC to join us. In Kalembe we met with the pastors of the village, shared our vision for night and day prayer and ministered to them.
The atmosphere in the village was pretty grim and the majority of the village had fled for fear of the rebels. There were many (drunken) soldiers in the village and refugees who had come from the next few villages down the road where the rebels had taken over.
The people in this village often suffer attacks from rebels who come plundering and raping women. The villagers are used to burying in the ground their utensils and any valuables they have to keep their possessions save from rebels.
On sunday we ministered in three different churches in the village. The evening before I had told David of a recurring dream I have been getting in the last year about a little girl in Congo. A dream about me rescueing a vulnerable girl surrounded by angry men and everytime I wake up with adoption on my heart. I told David i might meet that girl someday and then adopt her. David said it might not be a literal girl - God might be talking about adopting a place. That sunday morning as i walked 15 minutes to the other side of the village to share in a church i saw many children. They all call me 'mzungu' (white man) and stick their thumbs up. They keep their distance because fascinated as they are by me, they are also a bit scared of me. But when I got close to the church one little girl, like the one in my dream, ran up to me, called my name and held me. And she just stood there with her head leaning against me. She was different from the other kids and very affectionate. Mboto, our local leader, was also suprised. There was no way she could have known my name.
God put a great love for this village and the leaders in our hearts.
After having a wonderful time in this beautiful little village in the middle of the war zone we started making our way out of the bush and back towards Goma, the provincial headquarter of North Kivu.
War in Goma
On our way back down we started hearing some disturbing news about the rebelgroup M23 who threatened to attack Goma. They had come really close to the edge of the city and the UN, nor the Congolese army, had been able to stop their advance to Goma.
We saw many, many soldiers on the road to Goma but were able to get into the city and to our house where we had been staying the last few weeks. But there was a very uneasy sense of restlessness in the air. The people were afraid of M23.
David Sliker, Mwangi, a Kenyan leader, and our two ACTS guys decided to grab their stuff and go straight to the border with Rwanda. I had to stay because as a Dutch National I couldn't enter Rwanda without a visa and my visa was only valid from the next day.
That afternoon, literally only 10 minutes after the guys crossed the border, they heard bombs going off and shooting. M23 started their attack on the city. I was on the other end of the city and heard nothing yet.
I got on a motorbike taxi to go eat some lunch when all of a sudden a flood of cars and motorbikes came my way and raced past me. More and more people kept coming, with real concerned faces, racing past us. Then women with children running and yelling, telling us to turn around because of the fighting in the city center. M23 had entered the city.
The guys then called me from the border and told me about the bombs and shooting they were hearing and that I had to get out of the city and to the border asap. But i couldn't because the rebels were fighting the Congolese army in the city center which i would have had to drive through to get to the border on the other side of town. I was stuck. Very quickly, all the shops closed and people ran for their lives and hid in their homes.
I waited in the house, informed my wife I was stuck and that Goma was under attack and that the other guys were on the border, in Rwanda. At the border it quickly became crowded with thousands of refugees.
That evening, Mboto, our local friend and leader sent his three older sons to my house, who stayed with me that night. We prayed together sitting around a candle while bombs were going off around us.
Word spread quickly about me being stuck in this city under attack and people started praying for me to be safe but also for our friends and the leaders in Goma and the surrounding villages. Soon thousands of people were praying all over the world. Friends, family, houses of prayer, IHOPKC, all were crying out to God to move in Congo.
I went to bed in peace and woke up at 5am the next morning to the sounds of war. Heavy shooting and bombs going off nearby. Mboto came to our house that morning. All day we sought to find a way for me to get out as we awaited the outcome of the battle. It became clear during the course of the day that M23 was killing the army and that they were gaining control over the city. The guys at the border sought to get a boat to rescue me, since Goma is besides a lake and our house was close to it, but it didn't work out. The boats that were there got shot at and quickly disappeared.
Then an ambulance was willing to get me and drive me to the border but halfway it ran out of fuel and thus never reached me. Meanwhile hospitals were flooded with the wounded and bullets were literally flying over our heads at the house.
David Sliker and the other guys had to leave the border area because it was not safe there anymore. They took a bus to Kigali, the capital of Rwanda, to wait for me there.
After rebels took our neighbourhood we decided to just try to race through town on Mboto's motorbike since it was already nearing the end of the day.
So, Mboto's eldest son started walking carefully to their house to get the motorbike. There were no people, cars or motorbikes on the streets. But then, out of nowhere a motorbike showed up at our gate and asked of we needed a ride! He said he could take us to the border. 'I can take you anywhere'. Mboto and I looked at each other, I grabbed my bag and we hopped onto the bike. This guy literally drove us right through town, past rebel soldiers, on deserted streets. He knew exactly where they were fighting, where there were many dead bodies and how to safely get me to the border.
The border was taken by the rebels and they were all over carrying their weapons. I talked to them and asked to cross bit they refused And sent me back into town. I told our motorbike driver and then he said he knew another border where I could cross. We quickly drove there and they let me cross there. On the other side I called my wife I got out and then found transport to Kigali to meet the guys.
Birthing a prayermovement
I believe the Lord used this situation to cause thousands to pray for Congo. Wherever people prayed for me they also prayed for our leaders and friends in Goma and in the warzone. We went in to train them to start houses of prayer, they said yes, and a week later thousands of people are praying for them and their nation. This could be the start of a prayermovement that could revive the church in North Kivu and bring about great victory in the Congo!
Thank you for praying for me and for the DRC.