October 16, 2016. Hope in the midst of insecurity

Peace and security remain elusive here in Congo. The nation’s elections, scheduled for December 19, are a dream deferred. Congo’s civilians continue to suffer violence, terror, and political instability. Last week was no exception here in Beni.

A week ago today a rebel group attacked an area just 1km from the UCBC campus. Residents fled to town for safety. Eight civilians lost their lives. No UCBC community member was physically harmed. But staff who live in that area and some who were visiting friends that evening endured the greater harm of trauma and terror during three hours of gunfire and panic. On Monday the area was on alert. Shops were closed. An angry and frustrated crowd blocked the roadway. For the next three days Beni observed an unofficial ville mort. Consequently UCBC remained closed until Thursday.

Such disruption takes its toll. Registration of incoming students, planning meetings, and other work in preparation for the opening of the academic year halted at UCBC. Intensive English classes were postponed.

The disruption of calendars is minor compared to the persistent stress and trauma people experience. No one can deny the menace. Yet a spirit of hope, faith, and trust in God prevail.

Friend and colleague Daniel Masumbuko told me Friday,  “Jesus spent much of his time on the water. He was often in a boat on the open water, in the wind and the waves, crossing from one place to another. The water is unsteady. Life is like that. But God is steady, and our faith is in Him. We have faith and hope. I believe God continues to protect this campus because UCBC is a light to this nation, and this is a place of hope.”

We live “on the water,” subject to storms, wind, and waves no matter where we live. But God is a God of hope, a God of peace, and a God of light. Thanks be to God.