This week, please intercede with us for Dr. David Kasali in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The most populous country in Francophone Africa, the DR Congo is home to nearly 92 million people from 250 ethnic groups. Approximately 94% of Congolese are Christians: 30% Catholic, 27% Protestant, and 37% other Christian (mostly Evangelical). Sixteen years after the Second Congo War (1998-2003), armed conflict among faction groups continues in the northeast. Ongoing violence has exacerbated food insecurity, driven hundreds of thousands from their homes, and intensified the Ebola epidemic, which has already claimed over 1,700 lives.
After completing his PhD in New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in 1993, David returned to the faculty at Nairobi Evangelical Graduate School of Theology (Kenya), where he later served as President for eight years. Following the Second Congo War – which involved nine countries and 20 armed groups, and left over five million dead and displaced another two million – David and his wife Kaswera sensed God’s call to return home.
In 2005, David and Kaswera founded Congo Initiative (CI), a holistic ministry that brings together church, government, education, and healthcare leaders working to rebuild communities and rekindle hope in the DR. Congo. In 2007, Congo Initiative founded the Christian Bilingual University of Congo (UCBC). Committed to promoting reconciliation and strengthening communities, the school trains Christian women and men to serve faithfully across all sectors of society.
David is the recipient of the 2014 ScholarLeader of the Year Award. He and the Congo Initiative Team share the following message:
As many of you are aware, the Ebola outbreak is wreaking havoc on lives and livelihoods in Beni Territory and other parts of eastern Congo. Its destructiveness has been relentless, causing much grief and trauma. Just a month ago, it seemed as if the deadly virus was close to being resolved in Beni.
Unfortunately, over the past few weeks, we’ve seen a dramatic increase in new cases in Beni, along with one confirmed case last week in Goma. The World Health Organization (WHO) responded by declaring the outbreak an “international health concern.” Since the outbreak was declared on August 1, 2018, just one year ago, more than 1,700 people have died. We are encouraged that today, the World Health Organization is mobilizing $300 million to scale up support of the response efforts.
But it is with heavy hearts that we must report the Ebola crisis has now touched our community deeply. A relative and high school student staying in the household of CI staff members (two of UCBC’s first alumni) recently contracted Ebola and passed away. In addition, two additional students at UCBC staying in the same home tested positive for Ebola on Friday. The students received vaccinations upon the first signs of Ebola in the home, and doctors believe this quick action will enable them to overcome the virus and heal completely.
We are heartbroken over the loss of yet another victim to Ebola, a young man with much of his life ahead of him. We pray for his family and friends, and ask God to bring them his peace and comfort. We ask for your support and prayers for the two students currently admitted to Ebola treatment centers, that God’s presence will be felt as they fight the disease.
As a result of this development, ALL members of the Congo Initiative and UCBC community in Beni (students and staff) have received or are in the process of receiving vaccinations.
Despite this difficult news, we want our global partners and friends to know that our community in Beni is united more than ever. We are strengthened by one another’s presence as we face this challenge and threat together. As students undergo vaccinations, sometimes with fear, they encourage one another, especially through the initial sideceffects of nausea and flu-like symptoms. They continue to follow the WHO protocol and prevention methods, including increased hand washing, restrictions on greeting customs, and more.
These realities haven’t stopped students from finding their purpose and achieving their dreams. It has not slowed their resolve. Students still completed their exams this past week and the graduating class defended their theses ahead of the annual graduation ceremony. At Congo Initiative USA, we are absolutely inspired by the dedication of the staff and students as they remain focused during such a challenging time. It reveals their hearts and passion to create positive change in their communities…to write a new story in Congo.
One of the unique things about our global community is our foundational and shared faith in a God who invites us to cry out for help, with confidence that these cries will be heard. Thank you for joining our brothers and sisters in Congo as they lament and plea for an end to the outbreak and for lasting peace. Thank you for standing in solidarity as we pray together and look for signs of hope and relief.
I see these signs each day as I witness the stories of our community coming together, united, helping one another face the here and now so there will be a better future for tomorrow – no matter what challenges come our way. Together, we believe we can beat this.
In hope and prayer,
David Kasali and the Congo Initiative Team