Politicians and Congolese church leaders launched the Prayer for Peace in Congo initiative at the House of Lords today (June 30), calling for peace in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)
The event was organised by Pastor Jean Bonso Kanyemesha of London Fire Church International, who is Director of World Action Youth – a charity working in this country with black majority families and young people, and attended by Christian Aid Director Daleep Mukarji as well as the Bishop of Winchester.
Pastor Jean is the founder of the Prayer for Peace in Congo Network which involves a ‘pray, act and give’ approach (prayer, advocacy and support for relief work) to end the fighting in DRC – the world’s most deadly conflict since World War II.
More than five million people have died in the last 10 years in the DRC and hundreds of thousands have been displaced since fighting broke out in August 2008.
Pastor Jean spoke of the urgent need for prayer and practical action to address the poverty, destitution and powerlessness of Congolese people who have been killed, raped or displaced by the fighting.
“I believe that this is the time when Christians across denominations have to stand up in prayer in a common agreement for peace and reconciliation,” he said.
Lord Alton of Liverpool and the Bishop of Winchester, Michael Scott-Joynt, who have both highlighted the need for a just and viable peace and have long championed the cause of human rights in the country, spoke at the meeting, as did the Minister for Higher Education, David Lammy MP, whose Tottenham constituency includes many people with family and other ties to the DRC.
Although unable to attend, Douglas Alexander, the Secretary of State for Development, gave his support to the launch of this new solidarity network, writing to Pastor Jean: “I believe the faiths have great power to reach hearts and minds around the world and are able to draw people together around shared goals such as peace in the Democratic Republic of Congo. I applaud your work in setting up this prayer initiative.”
Speaking before the meeting, Dr Mukarji from Christian Aid said: “I welcome the opportunity to work more closely with the Congolese community in Britain – to support their prayer initiatives and to look at other ways that we can effectively cooperate to achieve our joint aim of peace in the DRC.”
Christian Aid – which has strong partnerships with churches and local organisations in the DRC – chose to focus on the country during Christian Aid Week in May of this year. Its supporters in churches and in the community helped to bring examples of life-changing work in the DRC to the doorsteps of families across Britain and Ireland, following its DR Congo Crisis appeal launched in November last year.
That has led to further contact between the charity and the Prayer for Peace in Congo Network. It has also strengthened the ties between them based on a shared faith, shared concerns on human rights and the need for a just and viable peace.