The Democratic Republic of the Congo has long been afflicted by war and the aftermath thereof. As a result, dissension is a concept all too familiar, but not one that will linger unchallenged in the Church’s midst. Eraston Kighoma has been working to resolve conflict within his country by uniting and mobilizing local churches through the Center for Intercultural Missions and Research (CIMR), an organization that exists to equip the church body in the DRC for “missions in the context of war.” Such a substantial undertaking has required a tremendous amount of commitment, with minimal supporting funds. Nevertheless, Eraston and his family have been able to achieve incredible victories for the Kingdom of God. “We can do great things together,” he says, “but not alone.”
With more than 450 unreached tribes in the DRC, Eraston has made it his greatest ambition to invest in individuals around him, methodically mobilizing those who are closest to the unreached. After a time of significant prayer and substantial administrative planning, the CIMR launched a Missions Camp for their board members, in order to “build participant’s capacity in missions, and call them to action using their corporate work as a mission field.” The intent was to equip couples within their ministry to effectively bring the gospel to a country jaded by war. This initial training was the springboard that launched the CIMR into a season of visible harvest. After experiencing what could be achieved through their unity and recognizing the need for further mobilization education due to an influx of interested laborers, Eraston began contemplating the creation of a curriculum to educate more effective workers. After gathering together for a time of discussion and prayer, the CIMR decided to launch the School of Missions in order to further educate mobilizers.
Having experienced what can be achieved with strength in unified numbers, Eraston decided to expand his area of influence from local to global. Partnering with the Center for Mission Mobilization, the CIMR has successfully utilized tools such as the Xplore Study and Go Mobilize in the curriculum for the School of Missions, equipping volunteers to be sent out to an eclectic harvest. In using these resources, the CIMR has been able to effectively communicate God’s heart for the nations on various college and high school campuses. Some students have then gone and challenged their churches to partake in the Great Commission, and laborers were raised up on an exponential level.
Benjamin, a seventeen-year-old high school student in the region of Goma, was one such laborer. After attending the very first campus seminar hosted by the School of Missions, Benjamin was immediately drawn towards the concept of a mobile church body. He began training with the School of Missions, and learned that the term “nations” was not limited to foreign lands; “This moved him and he discovered that the nations were in Goma, and his church was doing nothing.” Eraston exclaims excitedly. Benjamin’s church, the largest Baptist church in Goma, had previously refused to open its ears to what the CIMR had to say about the mission field. Instead of stealing the podium in order to preach to a hardened audience, Benjamin decided on a more strategic entry. His church allowed him to speak in front of the youth ministry, which opened the door for him to plant the seed of the Great Commission. His most responsive audience? The youth ministry worship band. After hearing Benjamin speak, the entire group decided to attend the School of Missions, where they were so impacted that they went back to their church in Goma and began singing almost exclusively of God’s heart for the nations, reaching the congregation more than Benjamin could have hoped to. This incident of micro-mobilization was the flint, steel and spark that would ignite the tinder bed of Christians in the region. After experiencing the new tune of the worship songs, the congregation of Benjamin’s church began to open themselves up more and more to God’s global purpose, and the director of the Church was eventually persuaded to open his doors to the CIMR. Benjamin is continuing his studies with the School of Missions through the Xplore study, hoping to continue his goal of local church mobilization in the Congo.
God continues using this bold mindset of the CIMR to bring his love to the poor in spirit, even the agressors themselves. The Rwandan Rebel army maintains a significant presence in Katsiru, a region heavily affected by the war. Any form of vocal ministry brings high risk to laborers, one such person being Gabriel, a nurse and a graduate of the School of Missions. After having completed his training, Gabriel decided to use his influence and medical skill to “awake the church for missions” in Katsiru, an area still violently afflicted by the Rwandan Rebel Army, and to be “a blessing to people from different ethnic groups in that area.” After a brief stint of effective mobilization in this dangerous region, Gabriel was abducted from his pulpit by the rebels while preaching at a Baptist church. His captors took him deep into the Congolese jungle, where he witnessed torturous treatment, even the deaths of fellow inmates. He was, however, able to use his nursing skills as a vessel for bringing the Gospel to wounded inmates, and his training from the School of Missions to boldly share the love of Christ with the Captain of the Guard, and ten other militiamen who surrendered their guns after accepting Christ. The hearts of his captors were changed, churches were planted in their midst, and Gabriel was released.
There is an infectious, grass-roots apostolic tradition manifesting in the Congo, where financial resources are limited. Rather than being discouraged and clinging to safety, Eraston and his ministry partners have closed the mouths of ravenous lions and escaped from the den, all while planting the seed of a flourishing gospel in the midst of evil. Their humility, love, and grace for those who persecute them has begun to drive out an overwhelming regional darkness.