Background of Democratic Republic of Congo
In the last 25 years, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo) has endured a succession of wars and conflicts leaving an incomprehensible carnage — more than 5.4 million dead, millions more displaced, tens of thousands of women raped. In the eastern region of the country, especially in Ituri Province, people are currently experiencing a wave of bloody killings and horrific attacks, resulting in 2 million internally displaced people in a province of 7.3 million inhabitants. Most of these attacks are motivated by ethnic rivalries. In the midst of this society, from the challenges of this environment, the Jeremiah Center came forth seeking to bring peace.
A brief background of Jeremiah Center
A team of people began gathering weekly in 2017 to pray about the formation of The Jeremiah Center for Faith and Society.
After securing the site of an abandoned and damaged school campus the Jeremiah Center formed a Congolese board in July of 2018. The board believed the best place to start was by listening to the churches. The board called together a group of Christian leaders to lay out a vision for what lay ahead. In a very early conference attendees explored two questions:
- What does it take to re-imagine hope in DR Congo?
- What does it take for that hope to be realized in DR Congo?
This was the beginning. The team listened to many stories and heard of heroic peacemakers from the past one hundred years. The team also heard of the many past conflicts which hamper the chances of peace today.
After much listening and reflection, the Jeremiah Center now recognizes that ethnic enmity in the region is not the result of any inherent animosity among ethnic groups. Without denying the reality of differences of ethnic groups and some genuine causes of conflicts, including the dysfunction of the government, we assert that often enmity as experienced in the region is very often forged through stories or myths. We find that such myths forged by the people and the politicians serve to foster division among the people. These myths lay embedded in an array of narratives like children’s stories, proverbs, tales, etc.
Research: Transforming Conflict, Building Peace, Revealing the Kingdom
The Jeremiah Center is committed to excellent field research on transforming conflict in the region by building a peaceful area and community with the aid of the Word of God. To understand the past truthfully and wisely requires listening to the stories underlining the nature and causes of conflicts in Ituri. That listening is the first step of our research. The research helps the Center to better understand the root causes, dynamics, and effects of conflicts, and to search for signs of hope, reconciliation, and peace. From the result of this research, workshops are done with the community members, government officials and leaders of militia and rebel groups. This broad gathering allows us to form better mechanisms and strategies for peaceful coexistence.
The Jeremiah Center for Faith and Society is a non-profit association that works for a just and peaceful society in DR Congo. It pursues this vision through gatherings of leaders to articulate and promote a common vision for peace in the region; through training workshops, research and publications on issues relevant for our society.
The Jeremiah Center wants to remain attentive to the population of Eastern DR Congo to forge a new identity. This new identity won’t happen suddenly; it is built through a willingness to move forward together as a people, through intentional and unconditional love, through justice, truth, and forgiveness, and through a long march towards reconciliation. The Center believes change is possible.