Call to Prayer for the DRC

Massacre in the DR CongoA map of the northeastern DR Congo, Uganda and Sudan, showing attacks attributed to the rebel Lord’s Resistance Army. Ugandan Lord’s Resistance Army rebels killed more than 400 people in Christmas massacres in northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo, the Caritas aid charity said Tuesday. (from Yahoo News).

The archbishop of Dungu-Doruma, Monsignor Richard Domba, told AFP that at least 150 people had been killed at a Christmas Day service at Faradje and later, 80 at Duru and at least 200 others at Doruma and in the surrounding villages.

“It is a dramatic situation that we are living through here,” he said. The rebels “are indescribably barbarous and savage.

“They kill with machetes, axes and clubs. They burn people alive with their property in their homes.”

The LRA also “captured young boys and girls whom they will conscript and force to work in their fields,” he said.

The history of the unrest in the Democratic Republic of Congo (formerly Zaire) is long and complex, involving notable European powers, especially Belgium. Below is a Timeline of the Democratic Republic of Congo from the BBC (note the Sept. 2005 entry, in which the Lord’s Resistance Army rebels of Uganda infiltrate the DR Congo via Sudan).

There has been a heavy involvement of the UN in the Congo conflicts, dating back to about 1960, and I’m not so sure how much good they’ve done, considering things like the allegations of gold and arms trafficking by UN peacekeepers in Ituri region (May 2007).

At any rate, as Christians whose brothers and sisters in Christ are being massacred, raped, displaced by the tens of thousands, and grievously injured in so many ways in the DRC, we must pray. If you want a place to give, World Relief, a Christian Relief Organization, has been delivering food and aid to local churches caught in the middle of the violence and terror of the civil war in the DRC that has claimed the lives of over 5 million people in the past 12 years.

I met a local woman last month who runs a branch of World Relief here in Central Oregon. Until I met her, I really wasn’t aware of this crisis. Through her passion and outreach to the Congolese, I’ve suddenly noticed the DRC in the news–you know how that is, it’s been there all along.

Timeline: Democratic Republic of Congo

A chronology of key events:

1200s – Rise of Kongo empire, centred in modern northern Angola and including extreme western Congo and territories round lakes Kisale and Upemba in central Katanga (now Shaba).

1482 – Portuguese navigator Diogo Cao becomes the first European to visit the Congo; Portuguese set up ties with the king of Kongo.

16th-17th centuries – British, Dutch, Portuguese and French merchants engage in slave trade through Kongo intermediaries.

1870s – Belgian King Leopold II sets up a private venture to colonise Kongo.

1874-77 – British explorer Henry Stanley navigates Congo river to the Atlantic Ocean.

Belgian colonisation

1879-87 – Leopold commissions Stanley to establish the king’s authority in the Congo basin.

1884-85 – European powers at the Conference of Berlin recognise Leopold’s claim to the Congo basin.

1885 – Leopold announces the establishment of the Congo Free State, headed by himself.

1891-92 – Belgians conquer Katanga.

1892-94 – Eastern Congo wrested from the control of East African Arab and Swahili-speaking traders.

1908 – Belgian state annexes Congo amid protests over killings and atrocities carried out on a mass scale by Leopold’s agents. Millions of Congolese are said to have been killed or worked to death during Leopold’s control of the territory.

1955 – Belgian Professor Antoin van Bilsen publishes a “30-Year Plan” for granting the Congo increased self-government.

1959 – Belgium begins to lose control over events in the Congo following serious nationalist riots in Leopoldville (now Kinshasa).

Post-independence turmoil

1960 June – Congo becomes independent with Patrice Lumumba as prime minister and Joseph Kasavubu as president.

1960 July – Congolese army mutinies; Moise Tshombe declares Katanga independent; Belgian troops sent in ostensibly to protect Belgian citizens and mining interests; UN Security Council votes to send in troops to help establish order, but the troops are not allowed to intervene in internal affairs.

1960 September – Kasavubu dismisses Lumumba as prime minister.

1960 December – Lumumba arrested.

1961 February – Lumumba murdered, reportedly with US and Belgian complicity.

1961 August – UN troops begin disarming Katangese soldiers.

1963 – Tshombe agrees to end Katanga’s secession.

1964 – President Kasavubu appoints Tshombe prime minister.

Mobutu years

1965 – Kasavubu and Tshombe ousted in a coup led by Joseph Mobutu.

1971 – Joseph Mobutu renames the country Zaire and himself Mobutu Sese Seko; also Katanga becomes Shaba and the river Congo becomes the river Zaire.

1973-74 – Mobutu nationalises many foreign-owned firms and forces European investors out of the country.

1977 – Mobutu invites foreign investors back, without much success; French, Belgian and Moroccan troops help repulse attack on Katanga by Angolan-based rebels.

1989 – Zaire defaults on loans from Belgium, resulting in a cancellation of development programmes and increased deterioration of the economy.

1990 – Mobutu agrees to end the ban on multiparty politics and appoints a transitional government, but retains substantial powers.

1991 – Following riots in Kinshasa by unpaid soldiers, Mobutu agrees to a coalition government with opposition leaders, but retains control of the security apparatus and important ministries.

1993 – Rival pro- and anti-Mobutu governments created.

1994 – Mobutu agrees to the appointment of Kengo Wa Dondo, an advocate of austerity and free-market reforms, as prime minister.

1996-97 – Tutsi rebels capture much of eastern Zaire while Mobutu is abroad for medical treatment.

Aftermath of Mobutu

1997 May – Tutsi and other anti-Mobutu rebels, aided principally by Rwanda, capture the capital, Kinshasa; Zaire is renamed the Democratic Republic of Congo; Laurent-Desire Kabila installed as president.

1998 August – Rebels backed by Rwanda and Uganda rise up against Kabila and advance on Kinshasa. Zimbabwe, Namibia send troops to repel them. Angolan troops also side with Kabila. The rebels take control of much of the east of DR Congo.

1999 – Rifts emerge between Congolese Liberation Movement (MLC) rebels supported by Uganda and Rally for Congolese Democracy (RCD) rebels backed by Rwanda.

Lusaka peace accord signed

1999 July – The six African countries involved in the war sign a ceasefire accord in Lusaka. The following month the MLC and RCD rebel groups sign the accord.

2000 – UN Security Council authorises a 5,500-strong UN force to monitor the ceasefire but fighting continues between rebels and government forces, and between Rwandan and Ugandan forces.

2001 January – President Laurent Kabila is shot dead by a bodyguard. Joseph Kabila succeeds his father.

2001 February – Kabila meets Rwandan President Paul Kagame in Washington. Rwanda, Uganda and the rebels agree to a UN pull-out plan. Uganda, Rwanda begin pulling troops back from the frontline.

2001 May – US refugee agency says the war has killed 2.5 million people, directly or indirectly, since August 1998. Later, a UN panel says the warring parties are deliberately prolonging the conflict to plunder gold, diamonds, timber and coltan, used in the making of mobile phones.

2002 January – Eruption of Mount Nyiragongo devastates much of the city of Goma.

Search for peace

2002 April – Peace talks in South Africa: Kinshasa signs a power-sharing deal with Ugandan-backed rebels, under which the MLC leader would be premier. Rwandan-backed RCD rebels reject the deal.

2002 July – Presidents of DR Congo and Rwanda sign a peace deal under which Rwanda will withdraw troops from the east and DR Congo will disarm and arrest Rwandan Hutu gunmen blamed for the killing of the Tutsi minority in Rwanda’s 1994 genocide.

2002 September – Presidents of DR Congo and Uganda sign peace accord under which Ugandan troops will leave DR Congo.

2002 September/October – Uganda, Rwanda say they have withdrawn most of their forces from the east. UN-sponsored power-sharing talks begin in South Africa.

2002 December – Peace deal signed in South Africa between Kinshasa government and main rebel groups. Under the deal rebels and opposition members are to be given portfolios in an interim government.

Interim government

2003 April – President Kabila signs a transitional constitution, under which an interim government will rule pending elections.

2003 May – Last Ugandan troops leave eastern DR Congo.

2003 June – French soldiers arrive in Bunia, spearheading a UN-mandated rapid-reaction force.

President Kabila names a transitional government to lead until elections in two years time. Leaders of main former rebel groups are sworn in as vice-presidents in July.

2003 August – Interim parliament inaugurated.

2004 March – Gunmen attack military bases in Kinshasa in an apparent coup attempt.

2004 June – Reported coup attempt by rebel guards is said to have been neutralised.

2004 December – Fighting in the east between the Congolese army and renegade soldiers from a former pro-Rwanda rebel group. Rwanda denies being behind the mutiny.

2005 March – UN peacekeepers say they have killed more then 50 militia members in an offensive, days after nine Bangladeshi soldiers serving with the UN are killed in the north-east.

New constitution

2005 May – New constitution, with text agreed by former warring factions, is adopted by parliament.

2005 September – Uganda warns that its troops may re-enter DR Congo after a group of Ugandan Lord’s Resistance Army rebels enter via Sudan.

2005 November – A first wave of soldiers from the former Zairean army returns after almost eight years of exile in the neighbouring Republic of Congo.

2005 December – Voters back a new constitution, already approved by parliament, paving the way for elections in 2006.

International Court of Justice rules that Uganda must compensate DR Congo for rights abuses and the plundering of resources in the five years up to 2003.

2006 February – New constitution comes into force; new national flag is adopted.

2006 March – Warlord Thomas Lubanga becomes first war crimes suspect to face charges at the International Criminal Court in The Hague. He is accused of forcing children into active combat.

2006 May – Thousands are displaced in the north-east as the army and UN peacekeepers step up their drive to disarm irregular forces ahead of the elections.

Free elections

2006 July – Presidential and parliamentary polls are held – the first free elections in four decades. With no clear winner in the presidential vote, incumbent leader Joseph Kabila and opposition candidate Jean-Pierre Bemba prepare to contest a run-off poll on 29 October. Forces loyal to the two candidates clash in the capital.

2006 November – Joseph Kabila is declared winner of October’s run-off presidential election. The poll has the general approval of international monitors.

2006 December – Forces of renegade General Laurent Nkunda and the UN-backed army clash in North Kivu province, prompting some 50,000 people to flee. The UN Security Council expresses concern about the fighting.

2007 March – Government troops and forces loyal to opposition leader Jean-Pierre Bemba clash in Kinshasa.

2007 April – DRCongo, Rwanda and Burundi relaunch the regional economic bloc Great lakes Countries Economic Community, known under its French acronym CEPGL.

2007 April – Jean-Pierre Bemba leaves for Portugal, ending a three-week political stalemate in Kinshasa, during which he sheltered in the South African embassy.

2007 May – The UN investigates allegations of gold and arms trafficking by UN peacekeepers in Ituri region.

2007 June – War could break out again in the east, warns the Archbishop of Bukavu, Monsignor Francois-Xavier Maroy.

2007 June – Radio Okapi broadcaster Serge Maheshe is shot dead in Bukavu, the third journalist killed in the country since 2005.

2007 August – Uganda and DRCongo agree to try defuse a border dispute.

Aid agencies report a big increase in refugees fleeing instability in North Kivu which is blamed on dissident general Nkunda.

2007 September – Major outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus.

2008 January – The government and rebel militia, including renegade Gen Nkunda, sign a peace pact aimed at ending years of conflict in the east.

Renewed clashes

2008 April – Army troops clash with Rwandan Hutu militias with whom they were formerly allied in eastern Congo, leaving thousands of people displaced.

2008 August – Heavy clashes erupt in the east of the country between army troops and fighters loyal to rebel leader Laurent Nkunda.

2008 October – Rebel forces capture major army base of Rumangabo; the Congolese government accuses Rwanda of backing General Nkunda, a claim Rwanda denies.

Thousands of people, including Congolese troops, flee as clashes in eastern DR Congo intensify. Chaos grips the provincial capital Goma as rebel forces advance. UN peacekeepers engage the rebels in an attempt to support Congolese troops.

2008 November – General Dieudonne Kayembe dismissed as armed forces chief over war in east. Replaced by navy chief General Didier Etumba Longomba.

The BBC timeline ends there, but I’m sure will soon be updated with the Christmas 2008 massacres. What will 2009 hold for the Democratic Republic of Congo? If all God’s people will get on their knees and pray and intercede for persecutions going on worldwide (this is just one of many), maybe we will see a radical change…

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10 Responses to Call to Prayer for the DRC

  1. Thank you for this fantastic summary of what is going on. This is SO helpful!

  2. Becky says:

    The things that go on, that we don’t know about!

  3. Wow, that was a great history of the conflict- I have not heard a stitch of this massacre mentioned on the news- may have been there, but not a major story, I don’t think. We are so far removed from such crisis- thank you for telling us so that we can join you in prayer.

  4. Loving God, please have mercy on the Congolese people.

    Innocent Congolese are continually caught between fighting rebel groups and sometimes their government soldiers.

  5. Jen says:

    Sarah, Becky, Jane, thank you for taking the time to read this. It is interesting, Jane, that you haven’t seen anything mentioned on the news about this, and it does seem so far removed from us, with all of our own problems. I struggle all the time with being overwhelmed by a crisis like the one in the DR Congo, and balancing that with my own world and my own issues to take care of. I will be paralyzed with grief and unable to even function if I think about it too much! So I have to carry on with my own life, yet at the same time, allow for some of the grief to drive me to action in some way, at the very least, in prayer. Which is truly not “least” at all.

    Woody, thanks for leaving your link, I did visit your site on the Congo and love what you’re doing. God bless you greatly in your efforts at the most practical levels–you’re buying student desks, mosquito nets, etc…and it looks like you’re either there or traveling there occasionally with your ministry. Awesome.

  6. Funkiplanet says:

    Hi Friend:

    Thank you for posting this. I am going to let others know that this critical info exists here on your site. Keep up the good and important work you are doing.

    Happy New Year to you and your family!


  7. Julie says:


    I haven’t heard anything about this. I, of course, don’t watch TV and rarely read the paper (shame on me!)…anyway, read this last night before bed then had horrible nightmares of massive persecution happening in America of Christians – it was horrible – we were not safe anywhere. So I woke up with such strong empathy for these people and prayed hard for them. My horror ended when I woke up, but there’s continues.

    Thanks for the post.

  8. Jen says:

    FP, thank you, and Happy New Year, looking forward to getting together in 2009, we must plan something. :-)

    Julie, thanks for checking in. Okay, weird: last night I had nightmares all night as well. I was back in Arizona at my old elementary school (in my dream), and I knew of a secret hideaway to get away from “Them,” who were after all of us. I knew They were trying to kill everyone, and my whole night terror was about looking for places to escape to. It was horrible. I wanted to go to the secret hideaway that only me and my best friend knew about, but suddenly many others knew about it as well, so I knew it wouldn’t be safe. It just went on and on, but I thankfully woke up before They arrived and started killing us all.

  9. tipper says:

    How horrible! I’m an avid news watcher and have seen nothing about this-I noticed some of the other commenters haven’t either. I’m glad your getting the word out about what is desperately needed.

  10. Bernard LUSASI says:

    I thank you so much for telling us what is really happening in my country. It’s painful to learn this but we must know this story of our country. I always ask this question to myself saying:”tha sciences in which we have degrees and diplomas teach us to develop the human sens in our lives that will develop in our personality honestity, rightousness, respect of life that will bring heppiness, joy, development and peace in our societies”. I am so surprised to see that the politic in congo is held by people who have got doctorats,degrees and diplomas, but things that are happening there make me to cry every day until i don’t wish even to listen or watch news for the country.
    That’s why my prayer is that God gives to these criminels who are leading that country the spirit of recognition to read what they have already done and the consequences so that they consider they power like an obligation and or a service to organise the good life of they broithers and sisters.

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