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God is moving, can you see it?
February 18, 2012 4:26 am
Published in: On the Field Tags: , ,

But not just a still, quiet peace…

Contained within shalom is a tapestry of meaning.  Threads of safety, soundness, tranquility, prosperity, perfectness, rest, harmony, and the absence of discord are woven together into completeness, wholeness, and fullness.  The result of shalom is enemies reconciling, injustice disappearing, wounds healing, fears ebbing away and communities being restored.  It is a loaded, rich peace.

Shalom is not the sort of thing typically associated with the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Dusty streets of Bunia, DRC

Instead war, rape, poverty, violence, tribalism, disease, injustice, and unrest are lashed together into a crude picture that represents the Congo in many of our minds.  True, these things have taken place in the Congo, and sadly are still happening to this day.

But there are also echoes of shalom, unexpected patches of peace, sparks of deep love and joy… like the millions of bright pricks of light in the dark night sky.

Sunset in Bunia, DRC

The media team and I went to the DRC to see just what God was up to in swiftly growing school called Shalom University.

Flying over Lake Victoria

The campus is located in a rough town in north-east DRC called Bunia.  It is a place of dust, razor wire, and UN troops.  This city has seen a lot.  These people have been through more turmoil than I will ever know.  War, tribal strife, mass looting… the list of unspeakable hardship goes on and on.  During one of the conflicts, the school became home to more than 1500 refugees, holed-up in classrooms, offices, and the chapel.  Miraculously, the school remained unlooted and on the whole, undamaged by rebels and troops.  The same could not be said for the rest of the town.  Now Shalom University is growing exponentially; nearly 900 students are flooding the campus.  We went to tell this story, to see how shalom is catching fire, and to witness it spreading.

Professor Witmer walks through campus

God is up to something in the Congo.  Something big, something beautiful… He is urging His children in the DRC to spread shalom, to be peace-makers.  He is using this school in Bunia to send out solid, servant-hearted leaders into the Congo.  Into business, into agriculture, into ministry… they are bringing sparks of change, and becoming ambassadors of peace.

There is evidence of shalom here, the fingerprint of the Creator of peace is all over this place. It is on the faces of sweet light-hearted children, in the melodies of Congolese choirs practicing at dusk, within tight community gatherings, upon the eager minds of the students as they soak up knowledge, and resting on the distant mountains, hazy and glowing orange in the setting sun.

Light will always overcome darkness.  Always.  I am so grateful to have seen a slice of Congo.  True, it is a tough place.  But it is also a place of surprising beauty, full of people that God’s heart burns for. I pray that one day I will see more of this country… and witness just how deeply peace can take root.

Congolese mama and her children

Bananas at the market

Waiting to mud the chicken coop

Dried fish, yum.

Market ladies, selling everything from peppers to nail polish

Community water tank

Sorting beans for dinner

Before church

Camera v. Camera

Outside of a rural church

Sweet girls living in campus housing

Sugarcane snack

Campus housing at dusk, three families to a building

But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure;

then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. 

 Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.

James 3:17-18