I share a dream for the women of the Democratic Republic of Congo. I heard this dream first-hand from a pastor visiting from Goma, Eastern Congo. He stood willowy and poised, in the library in the basement of our church. The 500 women who had attended our Winterlude 2013 women’s retreat had raised $10,000 for World Relief to provide help for women of the Congo. Pastor Marcel thanked us for being there—he knows Westerners have busy schedules! We indulged in breakfast, sipped coffee and commended each other for rising early on Columbus Day. Our comforts jarred with the stories of suffering in his country, its communities and churches. The dream is currently a nightmare.
Congo is a war-ravaged country and its women are ravaged, too—physically, emotionally and financially. The Democratic Republic of Congo is one of the most dangerous places on the earth for a woman to live! Pastor Marcel spoke of the women who experience gender-based violence—rape. Their lives are ruined. They are physically injured, ostracized by the people they love, and lose their homes. This is not one or two, but a staggering 9 out of 10 women are victims.
Their dream was surprising. “They need to see people,” said Pastor Marcel. They dream of people like you and me visiting the Congo—sitting with them, listening to their testimonies and praying with them. “This brings great comfort to these vulnerable women,” he told us.
The dream includes financial provision. Money is needed to provide trauma counseling for women who have been raped. This counseling offers hope and healing. Often, women are unable to admit sexual assault for fear of being rejected by their husbands and shunned by their families. Trauma counseling allows women to come forward, talk about their ordeal and get help. Funding is needed for operations and hospitalization to repair fistula injury that leaves women isolated, susceptible to infected wounds, sickness, and even death. Funding also enables women who have been thrown out of their homes to be given a place to live, provided food and even money to start a small business.
Last but not least, the women dream of prayers—your prayers and my prayers—prayers that will deliver them from their misery, for the God of righteousness and justice works to free them from their oppression (Psalm 103:6).