In 1992 a Rwandan Tutsi-led military operation swept through the Sud-Kivu Province. The Banyamulenge, a Congolese tribe of Tutsi origin who had lived and worked in the Congo for generations, were expected to take up arms and join forces with their Tutsi brothers. What resulted was another tragic account of needless bloodshed. But the hatred, division, and sense of betrayal stayed behind long after the dead were buried. The Babembe, Bavira, Bafuleru, and Banyindu tribes swore that they would never set foot in a Banyamulenge church again. During the years that followed several key leaders in the church were poisoned to death. This deepened the divide and enflamed the resentment and mistrust—making the breech seem impassible.
In 2010 these tensions were still incredibly volatile in the Sud-Kivu Province, but we sensed that it was God’s time to bring these tribes together. As we met with leaders from each side, that notion was confirmed. There was a resounding affirmation that it was time to reconcile, heal the hurts of the past, and come together for training. But, as we began to organize a reconciliation meeting in Bukavu, we found that the local population and provincial authorities were still fearful. To bring a large constituency of Banyamulenge into the city of Bukavu (without starting a war) we had to notify the governor, mayor, and chief of police. The local population was on edge, extremely suspicious of any Banyamulenge gathering. Rumors of conspiracy were circulating. So, when we announced our plans to open a Bible school extension in Bukavu and gather these groups together on a regular basis for training, no one thought it would work.
That was more than three years ago. Today, after three years of successful training together, the grace of God has prevailed! This year 38 students will graduate from the Bukavu Bible School Extension, eight with honors.
City authorities are astounded by what God has done. “We could never have done this,” they told Pastor Israël Nsembe, the General Superintendent of the Assemblies of God of DR Congo.
Pastor Mafolo, who leads a strong Assemblies of God church in Bukavu, said that his church has opened its arms to the Banyamulenge, and now, for the first time, they are regularly attending.
We recently received the following report from Pastor Patrick Kahongya, the Academic Secretary in Bukavu: “The Bukavu Bible School Extension has played a key role in resolving the conflict between tribes in the Sud-Kivu Province. Now, after three years of training, there is no more conflict in the church.”
Thank you again for partnering with us in efforts like this. We are so grateful for your prayers and financial support.