“We are spiritually united in spite of the long distance that separates us physically,” the General Secretary and Legal Representative of the Community of Disciples of Christ of the Congo told those attending the Friday morning business session of the 2009 General Assembly. Eliki Bonanga said as a united and global church Disciples are called to “feel our pains.” Bonanga is president of the 650,000 Community of Disciples of Christ in the Congo (CDCC).
Bonanga said all Disciples are affected by the “extensive looting of our natural resources and minerals by the financial powerhouses of the world.” He said the mineral coltan, used in cell phones and other electronic devices and mined extensively in the Democratic Republic of the Congo has led to the exploitation. The Congo, he said, represents 80 percent of the world’s production of the mineral.
Coltan, short for Columbite-tantalite is a metallic ore comprising Niobium and Tantalum, found mainly in the eastern regions of the Congo. When refined, coltan becomes a heat resistant powder, metallic tantalum which has unique properties for storing electrical charge.
“Paradoxically, in the Congo where this mineral originates, people are unable to purchase telephones and communicate with one another in the rural communities,” he said.
Crimes against the Congolese including rape against women and children who are further exploited as slave laborers to carry arms and ammunition that circulate around (eastern Congo) provinces “have one common denominator – the looting of our natural resources for the interests of international businesses and their clients in Africa,” he emphasized.
The armed conflict which began in east Congo in 1996 has led to the destruction of infrastructures built by past missionaries. “What remains of them represents objects of considerable pride as heritage of the Disciples community.
“To restore them, we do not have the financial resources as we used to during the missionary era when the local government and the oversea churches had funds to maintain them in good condition. Today, all these expenses fall on our heads when we do not have sufficient means,” Bonanga said.
He thanked Disciples for continuing contributions for the rebuilding of the Bolenge’s Hospital destroyed by fire.
The continuing armed conflict, he said, is responsible for the spread of HIV/AIDs in the provinces. To battle the spread of HIV/AIDs they must conduct an awareness campaign among church members scattered across the country. He also called for funding to rehabilitate church hospitals and clinics and to provide them with pharmaceutical products.
Bonanga offered four points for healing in the U.S. and Canada during “your difficult moments:
1. Learn from successful sister churches what they do and carry the same approach to evangelization throughout the country
2. Encourage the participation of the young people in all church activities so they feel needed and relevant
3. Inculcate in the children and the youth a spiritual life that can help them to face difficulties and preach the same to adults
4. If you can visit the Congo to rest for a while from your pressure-packed routines, and take advantage of the moment to admire one of the largest tropical forests in the world and one of God’s beautiful creations that IS for everyone’s life.”
“I invite you to come to the Congo and see for yourself how the Disciples of Christ seek to address the suffering of its members in spite of its difficulties.
“We are called to work together to prevent many catastrophes that are falling upon us as a result of the damage to the world ecosystem.”
By: David Shank