RELEVANT Magazine Highlights TEN for Congo!

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by Lynne Hybels

Welcome! TEN for Congo is a grassroots movement of Americans who want to raise awareness and funds for the people suffering from an ongoing, brutal civil war—the deadliest war since World War 2—in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

If you’re visiting this site because you read the recent RELEVANT Magazine article I wrote called “The World’s Forgotten War,” I want to thank you for taking the time to learn more.

On my two trips to DRC—in 2009, and again just one year ago—I met extraordinary Congolese men and women who are comforting and serving and empowering others, even in the midst of their own deep suffering. “We may not have much,” one pastor said to me, “but there is always someone with less. We can help that person.”

If you’re sitting at a computer reading this blog, you probably have more of every material resource than that pastor has. You probably also have more education, more opportunity, more power, and a broader circle of influence than he has. I believe the reason you’ve read this far is that you want to use the resources you’ve been given to partner with that pastor—and with hundreds like him—in living out the Kingdom of God in the midst of the world’s forgotten war.

In the two months since I wrote the RELEVANT article, there has been another upsurge of violence in the very region of eastern Congo we visited last summer. Additional villages have been taken over by rebels, more vulnerable people have been displaced, and more women and girls have been brutally raped. Just this week, a UN report substantiated horrific reports of innocent farmers being executed by rebel fighters.

And yet . . . in the midst of this, pastors like the one I met continue to show up each day to be the hands and feet of Christ, reaching out to the most vulnerable people on earth. And World Relief’s work related to agriculture, community-based savings banks, micro-finance, and church mobilization continues unabated.

The Congolese heroes on the ground need our prayers and our practical partnership.

Because awareness is the first—and necessary—step toward making a difference, please watch this video to learn more about the pastors in Eastern Congo and their commitment to peace amidst conflict.

If you’re ready to jump right in with the TEN for Congo team, this PDF is the journal we created about our entire June 2012 trip to Eastern Congo—filled with stories and photos:  Ten for Congo Journal

Join us at tenforcongo.com in the coming weeks as we offer additional information—and amazing photos—of the beautiful women you read about in the RELEVANT article.  We’ll tell you more about the exciting expansion of the work of Village Peace committees.  We’ll tell you how you can become a member of TEN and use your voice as an advocate.  And we’ll provide updates directly from Congo, and as we follow TEN for Congo team member, Belinda Bauman, who will be traveling back to Congo in late July.

In the meantime, we can all pray for peace in the Congo. If you’re like me, you look at a situation as tragic as Congo and wonder how—and maybe even why—to pray. I love these words from Walter Wink that remind me prayer is an act of hope.

“History belongs to the intercessors. Intercession is spiritual defiance of what is, in the name of what God has promised. Intercession (imagines) an alternative future to the one apparently fated by the momentum of contradictory forces. It infuses the air of a time yet to be into the suffocating atmosphere of the present.”

On behalf of Congo, let’s join together to “infuse the air of a time yet to be into the suffocating atmosphere of the present.”

The World of Difference the Church Can Make

It has been said that in Congo you can find all of Africa’s problems. Failed national leadership. No rule of law. Tribal conflict and militias fuel rape being used as a weapon of war. 9 out of 10 women in Eastern Congo have been raped. HIV/AIDS. Child Soldiers are often used as proxy’s between fighting groups. Mass displacment of people is not uncommon in Congo. With cycles of conflict, refugees and internally displaced people number into the millions.

People leave their jobs, homes, and communities and are forced to wait for peace.

Fleeing the violence, people leave their jobs, homes, and communities. In the camps they wait for peace. (Photo: Mo Sadjupour)

However, even in the world’s most violent areas the reality of Jesus can overcome the horrors of injustice and war. Congo’s years of conflict have left the local church as the only social structure left standing and the only hope for survivors of violence to experience peace. With your help, Congo’s churches can mobilize to bring healing and peace to their communities. Your church can rally to stop the suffering and stand with Congolese Christ followers as they seek to be peacemakers.

World Relief is looking for U.S. churches that are passionate, committed, and resourced to help us in growing this vision. Church partners commit to World Relief Congo for five years through building relationships with our Congolese staff and Congolese churches that World Relief helps to broker. U.S. churches leverage financial resources to help promote the work of the local church in Congo.

In August and November of 2013 World Relief will be leading churches to Congo so that they can see and discern if God is calling them to engage.

Through dialogue with local pastors and other leaders we will learn how churches are now seeking to expand their work to all of Eastern Congo and deepen their work through building peace at the grassroots level. Our Congolese partners tell us that if they had peace, healing and development would come very quickly because of the natural resources and fertile ground Congo has.

Will you pray about what God might be asking your church to do?

If you would like more information or would like to go on these trips please e-mail James Misner Jmisner@wr.org

An Interview with Josh Garrels: Why He Gives Away His Music for Congo

The relationship between Ten for Congo and Josh Garrels started early this year, when co-founder of Ten for Congo, Belinda Bauman, came up with an audacious idea: throw a birthday party to raise awareness for Congo, invite a couple hundred people, and ask her favorite musician to perform for free. Emboldened yet unassuming, she sent an email inquiry to the contact on Garrels’ site. To her surprise it was Garrels himself who responded. He was moved by the opportunity to use his gifts to advocate for peace in the Congo. On February 8th over 200 people gathered together to hear Lynne Hybels, Micah Bournes, and Josh Garrels raise their voice in solidarity with the Congo (all the while celebrating Stephan and Belinda’s birthday). It was just the beginning of Garrels’ work as a voice for peace in the Congo.

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The following post is an article from the Huffington Post where Belinda interviews Josh Garrels about his most recent act of solidarity with the Congo: a two-week give away of all five of his albums on Noisetrade with tips going to World Relief’s programming in Congo. The end result was 161,245 downloads raising $71,566 church-based peace-building initiatives in Eastern Congo.

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By: Belinda Bauman (To access original article on the Huffington Post click here)

Josh started his music career early in life singing for his mother in their laundry room, and has been delighting audiences ever since. In fact, his last two tours have been completely sold out. And I can understand why.

My husband and I, as well as my two sons, can be found listening to Josh in cars, on planes, while running, studying, eating or just thinking. With a truly unique blend of folk and hip-hop, Josh lives out his life just like his music — honest, soulful and filled with longing for a world made better through those who live a life of faith.

And nowhere is this more evident than his counter-cultural desire to give away that which is best and most beautiful of his music for the sake of others. Three months ago, Josh patiently listened to me pour out my heart about the current conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and agreed to do a benefit concert with Ten for Congo. It was a wild success. We found a mutual desire to protest the pain of a war that has brutally taken over 5.5 million lives, and promote the beauty of the resilient Congolese people. There has to be peace in Congo — grassroots and lasting. Josh has decided to lend his voice.

Walking on the edge, Josh and Noisetrade are near the end of a two-week free download including all five of his albums — his entire life’s work — with all tips going to World Relief’s peacemaking effort in the DR Congo.

It seems you’ve developed a little bit of habit giving your music away. Does your music label think you’re crazy?

As a rule, record labels wouldn’t allow me to give all my music away, as that would cut into their revenues significantly and they’re in the business of selling albums to make a profit. I have the freedom to give away as many of my albums as I want to, simply because I’ve never worked under a real record label. I write, produce, manufacture and distribute all my own work — so I own all the rights, which in turn gives me the right to give away as much as I’d like. The first time I decided to do this was in 2011 and 2012, when I gave away my album Love & War & The Sea In Between as well as its proceeds for one full year (June 15, 2011 to June 15, 2012). I was able to give away approx. 125,000 albums and $40,000 to invest in non-profits, ministries, and other musicians work — all within that “year of jubilee.” It was a very positive experience for me, leaving a certain “taste on my tongue” for giving away freely.

So, to you, what does it mean to give away your music — your work and livelihood?

It’s from a conviction that’s been growing over the years. Since beginning this career in the early 2000s, I’ve always felt strongly that music doesn’t have to be, and perhaps should never be, solely a means of entertainment for the masses. It should enrich lives in some way. Even if it’s feel-good bubblegum pop, it doesn’t need to be mindless or appeal to the lowest common denominator, and should never be made with the motivation of “pushing units” and making the next big “idol.” Building upon this conviction, over the past two or three years I’ve felt strongly that any gift we’re given is meant to be of service — to be a blessing to the masses, and to ultimately to meet needs of others and not simply their wants and expectations. Taking the dollar amount out of the equation and leaving nothing between the listener and the music seemed like such a logical conclusion to this train of thought.

You have beautiful songs called ‘Rejoice’ and ‘Lament’ on your album Jacaranda. What role does lament play in your music? In your life?

Be it a gift or a curse, I feel things deeply, which means I’ve spent a fair amount of time in low, melancholy places of borderline depression. Yet, I’m convinced that suffering and sorrow are often the midwives to the greatest joys and victories. As the Lord says, the suffering of childbirth is immediately forgotten when the baby is in the mothers arms. Sharing in sorrow and lament is a necessary part of the transformation into healing and joy, but not just for the victim, it benefits all who take part in the sharing process.

We’ve spent many years now in lament for our brothers and sisters in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. The war in the DRC has taken 5.5 million lives to date, and yet many media outlets have ignored this. What drew you to become an advocate for peace in the DRC?

The first step was to simply be exposed to the situation by those in the know, whose hearts were already deeply connected to Congo. Horrifying statistics being given amidst tears from the teller are a hard combination to ignore. When confronted with such a massive crisis that is in fact being ignored globally, I was left with the overwhelming impression of those in the midst of the suffering in Congo being relatively “voiceless.” And this begged the question, if I’ve quite literally been given a “voice” to sing, speak, write, and have some measure of influence in my own media driven culture, why would I remain silent?

You become a pastor at age 24. In your opinion, what is the role of the church in brining restoration to this broken world?

During the middle ages, the Black Death plagued all of Europe, killing half of the population. Those with the means ran from the cities to save themselves from the outbreak and contamination. History records tell us that it was the Christians who stayed in the belly of the beast to help the sick and dying, and in doing so became sick and died themselves. I believe to bring restoration to the world the church must be lovingly invested and present everywhere corruption and death are found — whether in war torn countries, broken political and economic systems, sick communities, or our own neighborhoods.

If you could give a challenge to the church today, what would it be?

The church cannot function as “holier than thou” separatists any longer – disengaging from society so as to not become “contaminated” helps no one. If the heart is clean what are we afraid of? We must go with the grace of God into the darkest, sickest, most dangerous systems, countries, industries, and communities and be both present and active, while staying anchored in the death and resurrection of Christ.

Follow Belinda on Twitter

Belinda

Day 10: Pray for Justice

DAY TEN: Justice
Change the way you are living and stop doing the things you are doing. Be fair in your treatment of one another. Stop taking advantage of aliens, orphans and widows. Stop killing innocent people in this land. Stop worshiping other gods, for that will destroy you. If you change, I will let you go on living here in the land which I gave your ancestors as a permanent possession (Jeremiah 7:5-7 GNT).

Pray: For the meaningful progression of peace talks between the rebel group M23, and government officials; and for involvement from the International community. Ask God for creative courage to be an advocate for the DRC.
Today we may see Justice as punishment, efforts to promote equality, guarantee rights, or political advocacy. It is all of these things, but hopefully these ten days of prayer have taught us that Justice can be something more. Scripture calls us to stand with those who are oppressed, marginalized and powerless. This “Justice work” reflects the heart of the creator and sustainer of the universe who will protect and advocate for the vulnerable who have no other helper.
To do justice is to partner with the very work of God on this Earth!
Some ask if justice is just merely fashionable today—a fad for the rich. Some suggest that the work of Justice is for the courts or the universities. Some say justice waters down authentic faith in the Church. Yet, there are some that would say, with full hearts and even fuller souls, that faith without the work of Justice is dead. And for those who suffer, the biblical quartet of the orphan, the widow, the immigrant and the poor, injustice occurs then they are left out, oppressed, exploited. For them, and for us, Justice happens with those that are not on the radar, forgotten and left out are included, remembered, and considered!

Learn: Watch Micah Bournes on “Justice”

What is Justice? from The Justice Conference on Vimeo.

Act: Advocate for Justice in the Congo!
What is advocacy? Dictionary definition: the act of pleading or arguing in favor of something, such as a cause, idea, or policy; active support. A very biblical concept! Jesus himself is our greatest advocate and calls us to plead the case of those who suffer. The DRC has significant, complex circumstances. Advocacy has an important role to play as it highlights the suffering of the Congolese and ensures governments and the international community keeps it tuned to their radar.
While the problems in the DRC are often not well understood, Ten for Congo partners with World Relief in identifying and communicating necessary and appropriate solutions to the problems in eastern DRC.
You have the opportunity today to become an advocate with us! Follow this link to send a letter to your member of Congress and the President. You can find both addresses at the World Relief advocacy page here: www.worldrelief.org/advocate

World Relief Staff and Ten for Congo in Washington D.C

World Relief Staff and Ten for Congo in Washington D.C

Day 9: Pray for ‘Shoulder to Shoulder’ Relationships

Day 9: Relationships

Matthew 10:8 NIV: Heal the sick, raise the dead, and cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. Freely you received, freely give.

Galatians 5:22-23 NLT: But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!”

Pray: For all the fruits of the Spirit to be at work in relationships.
In East Africa, there is a saying, “When minds are the same that which is far off will come!”
Minds that are focused on love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control together are minds that will agree on the major issues, and be able to disagree on the minor things safely. Peace at the grassroots level is essentially an issue of relationships. Specifically, peace building happens when a local village is energized to unite in their own, shared vision for the way they will peacefully work, play, share and address opportunities, challenges, and conflicts together for their common good… around relationships. As this happens, such villages become less vulnerable and more resistant to external exploitative forces, and accordingly, more able to sustain and grow a culture of peace.

Learn: About “Relationships and Doing Justice”, Stephan Bauman

Stephan Bauman :: Doing Justice from The Justice Conference on Vimeo.

Ancient philosophy recorded the definition of the word “friend” with three possible meanings. One—relationships for the sake of pleasure and companionship. Two– relationships for the sake of utility. Three– friendship that is “shoulder to shoulder” with the express purpose of taking on work and goals together to make each other better. It is this third type of friendship that is the work of the church.
Act: The ministry of Forgo is an amazing “shoulder to shoulder” concept, where those of us that are resource rich, “forgo” something to share our wealth and hope with those who are resource challenged. The “Chief Forgo-er” is CEO Scott Pentzer. Being the father of two adopted Congolese boys, he and his beautiful wife Darcy understand that forgoing a meal, a coffee, a soda, a date night, can mean change the heart of both the giver and the receiver!! They have chosen to partner with Ten for Congo, and World Relief to help us all forgo a little to make a big change specifically in Congo! Thank you so much FORGO!!
Make “forgoing” a part of your lifestyle!

1) Watch the following video on the amazing ministry of Forgo

2) Sign up to “Forgo” a meal, and event, or entertainment for the sake of Congo today! Download the Forgo MOBILE APP here: http://forgo.it/

3) Forgo around some friends or co-workers and then tell them about this amazing opportunity to help Congo. Together through our giving we will stand in shoulder to shoulder relationship with our brothers and sisters, them making us better through less “conspicuous consumption of goods” and us helping them establish Village Peace Committees! Via la Relationships!!

Ten for Congo meets with Village Peace Committees

Ten for Congo meets with Village Peace Committees

Day 8: Pray for Caregivers

Day 8: Caring

Psalm 10:12-18
12 Arise, LORD! Lift up your hand, O God.
Do not forget the helpless.
13 Why does the wicked man revile God?
Why does he say to himself,
“He won’t call me to account”?
14 But you, God, see the trouble of the afflicted;
you consider their grief and take it in hand.
The victims commit themselves to you;
you are the helper of the fatherless.
15 Break the arm of the wicked man;
call the evildoer to account for his wickedness
that would not otherwise be found out.
16 The LORD is King for ever and ever;
the nations will perish from his land.
17 You, LORD, hear the desire of the afflicted;
you encourage them, and you listen to their cry,
18 defending the fatherless and the oppressed,
so that mere earthly mortals
will never again strike terror.

Pray: Today we pray for strength, protection, and encouragement for the caregivers and counselors who care for victims of sexual and gender-based violence. Many of us live at a distance to this kind of suffering. Yet the Lord can bridge the gap for us as we ask him to give us his heart to understand, to be brave enough to face the specific type of suffering that gender based violence brings. In Psalm 10, the writer describes a series of incidents that befall the vulnerable at the hands of evil. The caregivers and counselors in DRC have seen situations and often felt like the writer of this Psalm. As they lament the pain of those they care for, they find God’s courage to continue. As we willingly choose to lament the pain of the sisters and children of Congo, we care for the caregivers. We stand in solidarity and acknowledge the difficulty and nobility of what they do in the name of Christ!

Learn: Choose one of these two “laments’” to give understanding and reality to your caring for Congo:

A. Complaint, a Lament poem by Stephan Bauman
B. Who Broke Africa, spoken word poem by Micah Bourne

Act: Write a Lament for those you care about in Congo. The ancient art of Lament is simply speaking to God about your complaint. Asking him why this suffering exists, and allowing, as you write, the Spirit to give you hope. Finish your “complaint to God” with thanks giving for the hope and beauty of is His grace in Congo and in the midst of suffering, including those who offer care to those who suffer. If you are willing, post your laments in the comments section of this Day #8 Prayer.

Meet the caregivers of World Relief’s Village Peace Committees.

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Day 7: Pray for Mentoring Relationships

DAY SEVEN: Mentoring

The grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all people. It educates us so that we can live sensible, ethical, and godly lives right now by rejecting ungodly lives and the desires of this world. At the same time we wait for the blessed hope and the glorious appearance of our great God and savior Jesus Christ. He gave himself for us in order to rescue us from every kind of lawless behavior, and cleanse a special people for himself who are eager to do good actions (Titus 2:11-14 CEB).

Pray: For the men of Congo, thanking God for all those who are faithful, embody goodness, live rightly, and endure hardship with patience. Ask God to bring healing and transformation for situations where people have been hurt or wronged. Bring health role-models for young men and abundant opportunities for ethical employment.

Learn: How organizations are transforming the lives of young men in Congo to nurture their peace building and leadership skills.

The Light of Africa Network has a project, Sons of Congo, where they are using radio programming to speak into ‘mens issues’ and inspire young leaders to follow Christ.

Act: “Like” Sons of Congo Facebook page to encourage this movement of young Congolese men leading transformation in their communities.

Day 6: Pray for Healing of Victims of Gender-Based Violence

DAY SIX: Healing

“Don’t be afraid,” he said, “for you are very precious to God. Peace! Be encouraged! Be strong!” As he spoke these words to me, I suddenly felt stronger and said to him, “Please speak to me, my lord, for you have strengthened me” (Daniel 10:19).

Pray: For the healing and protection of women who are victims of sexual and gender-based violence, that they would know the unconditional love of Christ. Pray that the situation would change.

Learn: Read this article about Ten for Congo’s experience meeting with women in Eastern Congo. Lynne Hybels and Belinda Bauman recount the sacred and painful stories told by these survivors of gender-based violence. See how World Relief’s Village Peace Committees respond to their trauma.

Watch HEAL Africa, a hospital and holistic community development organization, explain how they counter gender-based violence amidst instability to bring hope, healing, and comfort during these women’s greatest moment of need.

Act: Friday, March 8th is International Women’s Day. The United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women has established this year’s theme as “A Time for Action to End Violence Against Women”. You can join in solidarity on this day by:

Watch a Webcast from the event featuring global women’s rights activists and prominent international leaders.

Join in Listening to the ‘One Woman’ Song Live. The song is a rallying cry that inspires listeners to join UN Women, the global champion for women and girls, to celebrate its mission and work to improve women’s lives around the world.

Join the conversation on Twitter at @UN_Women and the hashtag #1woman; or the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women @UN_CSW to learn more and get updates in real time.

Day 5: Pray for Mercy

DAY FIVE: Mercy
Feed the hungry, and help those in trouble. Then your light will shine out from the darkness, and the darkness around you will be as bright as noon (Isaiah 58:10 NLT).

Pray: Over the last month we’ve seen thousands of people displaced in Eastern Congo. These individuals and families are in need of God’s mercy in the form of food, water, shelter, and protection from militia activity and banditry. Pray that God’s mercy would burst into this situation.

Learn: For an overview and update on the current situation visit World Relief’s ‘Congo Crisis’ page’
Listen to remarks from US Bureau of African Affairs Assistant Secretary, Johnnie Carson, exhort the nation to ‘re-double’ efforts to end instability in DRC

Act: Take five minutes to tell your member of Congress and the President you are an advocate for peace in DRC, visit World Relief’s advocacy page to send a letter.
We’re asking for:
  • The appointment of a high-level U.S. Presidential Special Envoy to provide support to the ongoing peace processes for the DRC
  • The organization an international donors conference to increase and coordinate humanitarian assistance for the DRC
  • Community-based peace building initiatives that are resolving local grievances, working towards reconciliation, and strengthening leaders throughout civil society
  • Increases in humanitarian assistance to combat sexual and gender-based violence and meet the ongoing humanitarian needs on the ground 

 

This mother and child have been displaced by fighting. They set up this makeshift home, rely on food donations, and wait until safely returns to their community. (Photo: Mo Sadjudpour)

This mother and child have been displaced by fighting. They set up this makeshift home, rely on food donations, and wait until safely returns to their community. (Photo: Mo Sadjudpour)

Day 4: Pray for Conflict Resolution

DAY FOUR: Pray for Conflict Resolution
“Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,” says the Lord, who has compassion on you (Isaiah 54:10 NIV).

“How good and pleasant it is when brothers and sisters live together in peace!” (Psalm 133:1 VOICE)

Pray: For the Leadership and Peace-Building workshops, that they would continue to grow and empower more men and women to resolve conflicts in their communities. Pray that we’d be able to launch 1,000 peace committees (currently there are 22 Village Peace Committees in operation; we’re hoping for 988 more).

Learn: Listen to this 4 minute Voice of America report/Article “Peace-Building in DRC” interviewing Don Golden on the role of the church in local conflict resolution and regional peace-building.

Click here to see how peace-builing is a core component to World Relief’s programming in Congo.

Act: Invite your friends and followers on Twitter and Facebook to the #TenDaysofPrayer for Congo; it’s not too late. Here’s a suggested post:
“I’m learning about the conflict in Eastern Congo and praying for peace. Join us in #TenDaysofPrayer for #Congo at @TenforCongo www.tenforcongo.com”

Church leaders from varied denominations, tribes, and towns gather together. Here they pray for peace and work together to unify their communities. (Photo: Mo Sadjudpour)

Church leaders from varied denominations, tribes, and towns gather together. Here they pray for peace and work together to unify their communities. (Photo: Mo Sadjudpour)