“No condition is permanent” – encouragement and hope in Eastern DRC

Early last year we featured the training in Kamango in Eastern DRC. It has been encouraging to hear how the core team has grown and is pressing ahead with the training-of-trainers course despite a break-in at the cathedral and continued insecurity, a testimony to their commitment.

The core training-of-trainers group has grown to twenty-five – and has been capped at that, despite much wider interest. Manzi Costa, who we have interviewed in the past, has recently been ordained on the basis of his BUILD training and his part in equipping others. A supportive partnership with a local cocoa exporter continues to bring in financial support, and we are looking at a multi-year approach to the training. A BUILD office has been constructed at the cathedral and an Education Secretary has been appointed in the diocese this month for the first time, who Manzi will serve under as BUILD Coordinator. All this and more should strengthen the training in the young diocese.

Having reached module six of ten, we sent some questions for the trainee-trainers to respond to at the end of an intensive training week, by way of feedback.

First, what have you enjoyed most about the training?

The participants’ responses indicated that above everything else they were delighted to have “acquired new skills for preaching the Psalms”. Learning about the various Psalmists other than David was eye-opening for them, and they valued learning about the structure of the Psalter: “the way the Psalms are divided into five books” and a comparison “to the five books of Moses” that was taught.

They also “enjoyed the good teaching from our facilitators”. Revd Manzi from Kamango Diocese was supported by Revd Wilber and Revd Michael from neighbouring Uganda who continue to encourage and support the training in Kamango, and see it as part of the mission of their new West Ruwenzori diocese. Despite the time and cost at a busy time for them, Wilber and Michael travelled and crossed the border repeatedly, because of their fellowship in the gospel and their commitment to growing the work in Congo. Wilber, who has been involved with BUILD for many years since first being trained as a Lay Reader, has recently been appointed Archdeacon of Bundimulinga, not far from the border.

In a context where life is uncertain and where there are many hard edges and relatively few soft ones, the participants also said they enjoyed receiving “a good breakfast and enough lunch”, something so many take for granted.

Second, how has the module on the Psalms encouraged you in the situations you are facing as leaders?

Given the difficulties they experience on a daily basis in Eastern DRC, it was remarkable that one participant could say this: “the psalmist had more challenges compared to us, but they continued to trust the God of the covenant.” Another said that it encouraged them “to continue serving our God who is the owner and has authority over nature.” They learnt about David, who “experienced many problems but continued to trust God” which encouraged them, too, “to be patient and continue to do God’s work.” It is no accident that this reflected what Manzi had learnt when he was being trained as a trainer in Uganda and is now passing on.

One phrase they shared in relation to this was particularly revealing: “No condition is permanent.” In a context in which the diocese has suffered recent incursions from militias, and local theft has led to setbacks, including in the BUILD programme, the Psalms has given them a fresh perspective on their troubles and wisdom to share with others.

Third, what do you plan to do with the training you have received?

The trainers made a commitment: “to teach the new skills of preaching the Psalms to all God’s ministers within our diocese and beyond”, strengthened by the theology of the Psalms which gives new depth and persistence in their ministry. This sentence stood out: “Since many of our Christians live in displacement camps, just as the Psalmist was in exile but had hope in the coming of the great king, we will continue to teach them to have trust in the Lord Jesus, who is the real great king.” What a source of resilience and hope.

Finally, is there anything else you would like to share?

They ended their comments with a request for ongoing prayer: “We have more to share but more importantly need your prayers. Thank you.”