Yearly Archives: 2019

Manzi Costa

“David faced what we are facing” – confidence despite insecurity

Kamango Diocese is a young Anglican diocese in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). It lies close to the Uganda border in the Beni region of DRC’s North Kivu province. Various armed groups operate in North Kivu, encouraged by an absence of governance and the presence of mineral wealth. One of those groups, the Allied Democratic Front (ADF), continues to create havoc.

We spoke with Manzi Costa who serves in the diocese, and travels regularly to Uganda as part of a BUILD training cohort. Manzi described how the ADF is operating in his area: “They attacked the diocese and killed many of our Christians in April. Even now Bishop Sabiti [Tibafa Daniel] and the diocesan staff are no longer at the cathedral in Kamango but have been displaced to the town of Nobili close to the Uganda border, where there is some protection. This is the challenge we are facing: the whole diocese is scattered. It feels as though no organisation is really helping us, and no one is going out to get food. They attacked the town yesterday and killed eight civilians and three soldiers. People are no longer going to the churches. We gather together in the town and pray from there, sometimes in semi-permanent structures.”

In this context, Manzi went on to explain how his studies that week on the Psalms were helping him: “David faced the same challenges we are facing, but he remained confident in God”, he shared. “However much we are facing challenges, we are still confident. This is how the BUILD training is helping me: the Psalms are encouraging me as the Psalmists were facing what we are facing but they continued to trust in God. Even though we are suffering, our God is there – that is the message I am taking and will share with others. The wicked one is prospering but I will cry out to God. It has been this way since I was born – 28 years ago. Up to now I have only experienced wars.”

Pray for Manzi as he returns to Congo, that he will continue to know and share that message of hope. And, as Bishop Sabiti, requests, “Please pray for a quick recovery of peace in the area so that people are able to grow their crops. [Without that] soon hunger will be generalised and sickness will follow as an epidemic. People now need shelter, clean water, food and medication, and sensitisation about the Ebola virus.”

Edward Nyiturikyi

Reintegrating Rwandan communities

We caught up with Edward Nyituriki, a BUILD student and trainer who is in Amsterdam studying for a masters. Edward is exploring how genocide perpetrators can be reintegrated back into their communities once they have been released from jail. We discussed what that work might mean for him when he returns to Rwanda later in the year, and how it can inform, connect with and impact BUILD.

The focus of Edward’s study is on how prisoners who were involved in the genocide but are soon to be released “can be positive to the community, how they can bring peace rather than instability.” Edward has looked at how his diocese, Shyogwe, has been doing prison ministry and preparing prisoners for release. He discovered that while there has been a great deal of helpful preaching, there has been very little personal work to respond to their cry. As one prisoner told him, “We are like orphans and no one is taking care of us.” In response, Edward’s study advocates for a particular type of prison chaplaincy to develop at Muhanga and Nyanza, a chaplaincy that will “counsel prisoners and connect them to the local community, helping them to share with those communities, and especially with the genocide survivors.”

The re-integration of perpetrators among survivors is understandably challenging. First, Edward shares, there is the need for them to “realise what they have done, for confession and forgiveness.” As he went on to say, “asking for forgiveness is a very big step towards reconciliation, and survivors are willing and wanting to hear from perpetrators, although it can take some time to forgive.” To complicate matters, the local gacaca law court system that was already struggling before the genocide was completely overwhelmed with cases. As a result, many prisoners who are presumed perpetrators feel they have been the victims of terrible injustice. As Edward pointed out, “some say, ‘What will we confess?’ We need to be able to help them to deal with this.”

The chaplaincy will connect prisoners with parishes in order “to create local reconciliation groups where perpetrators and survivors can meet for teaching and sharing on reconciliation, repentance and forgiveness. Not only drawing on key biblical passages, but also on how our culture encourages peaceful neighbourhoods, working closely with pastors and catechists. This means identifying genocide survivors and those in the community with relatives in prison, and bringing them together too.”

As Edward pointed out, it can be hard gathering people together for such meetings. “But if they can do an activity together it can motivate them, an activity of their choice – farming, brick making, income generating. That means having micro-finance funds available that they can borrow to start these up. Doing these activities together will encourage them and help them to overcome the stigma that they feel, their feeling that they are rejected, developing a sense of being together helps to reduce their fear.”

How does all this link with the work of BUILD? Edward explained that, “in one way and another I have been inspired by and have learnt from BUILD. But BUILD is focussed on the catechists and pastors, while this chaplaincy programme will draw in a wide variety of those who have been affected by the genocide. Those who have been trained by BUILD are among the ones who will implement the reconciliation groups – the catechists and pastors. This will give them a new perspective and message in their groups.”

Along with BUILD and other programmes, this initiative will be integral to delivering the four pillars of the diocese (sharing the word with families, alleviating poverty, bringing peace & reconciliation, and creating church ownership*), so that Rwandan communities can be reintegrated as a critical part of the Church’s mission in that context.

 

*Edward clarified that ‘church ownership’ means “members resolving their own problems and initiating their own programmes,” rather than assuming that the pastor or diocese will do it for them.