One thing I love about journalism is that stories are everywhere — you just have to know how to draw them out. That was the case this spring when I heard about a party in Washington, D.C. that was hosted by the development organization World Relief. I went on a whim, curious to learn more about their work.
At the party, between appetizers and cake, the World Relief staff began to tell me about a new grassroots program making small steps toward peace in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. They spoke excitedly, full of hope and proud of their work. After a lot of research and many interviews, including a long international Skype call, I turned those initial conversations into an article for Christianity Today. Here’s the beginning:
Violence erupted again this week in the fractured Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) when at least 20 people were killed in clashes between the government and the M23 rebel militia, breaking a truce that had held since last November.
The fighting paused Thursday (May 23) for the arrival of United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in the city of Goma in eastern Congo, according to the BBC. Meanwhile, the United Nations’ new 3,000-person intervention brigade has also begun to arrive in Goma. The force will be allowed to offensively target and “neutralize” violent groups in the region, an unprecedented step for the UN.
Amid the clamor and negotiations, it would be easy to overlook one new movement, working to heal eastern Congo: Small groups of Congolese church leaders, including influential local women, are volunteering to solve and prevent conflicts one at a time, without fanfare.
It’s a simple idea. But in a nation where political solutions are often given more attention than community solutions, World Relief, the humanitarian arm of the National Association of Evangelicals, believes these committees, which require the inclusion of female leaders, could be a key to peace. …
Read more in my latest article at Christianity Today, published May 24.