They are scared. Their homes have been destroyed. Their churches and schools have been burned. Women in their villages have been raped and abducted; and so have many of the children. “People were murdered,” says Aim’s Central Region’s executive officer, Steve Wolcott, “slaughtered like animals.”
They are the people of northeastern D.R. Congo, who in recent months have suffered deeply at the hands of a savage army known as the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), a rebel force responsible for terrorizing parts of Africa’s central region since 1987.
A map illustrating recent LRA attacks shows a pattern of red squares radiating out of Congo’s Garamba National Park where the group is headquartered; each denoting bloodshed, torture, abduction, and lives turned upside down.
Fear of further attacks perpetuates suffering. “It’s planting season,” said Aim member Wendy Atkins. “But they’re afraid to plant.”
Aim member Bill Stough visited the sites of a number of LRA attacks while distributing nine tons of plastic tarp and one ton of medical supplies with partner organization Samaritan’s Purse. “The delivery was accomplished,” said Stough, “but there was no way to relieve the suffering.
A commissioner in Faradje, a community set ablaze by LRA flame throwers, told Stough, “We may be able to relieve some of the physical need, but only Christ can cure the broken hearts.”
“I was shown what remained of the building in which the [local] doctor was hacked to death before his wife was forced to become part of the terrorist band,” said Stough.
On Christmas day, toward evening and into the night, the guerrilla terrorists hacked and shot to death a local pastor, Pastor Amayo, and 147 other residents (the exact number is uncertain) in Faradje and the surrounding areas. Six hundred or more lodgings and granaries were destroyed with their meager contents.
“Church members lost bicycles, sewing machines, food, farming tools and other precious and scanty possessions as their houses and homes went up in flames,” said Stough. “For most, none of these can be replaced, and they will continue to live in the harshness of their poverty.”
Samuel Opio, a believer in the area asked Stough if he had any Gospels of John or tracts he could distribute to the community. “Imagine the request!” said Stough, “I was happy to bring him several dozen Gospels on the next day’s visit to deposit medical supplies.”
A Resolve to Help and a Call to Prayer
“Considering the incredible evil of the LRA’s activities leaves me with a sense of dismay mixed with an urgency to do all I can to ensure that evil does not prevail,” says Wolcott
“As efforts are made to bring relief we must do all we can to respond to the incredible spiritual and emotional needs. …The global Church has the opportunity to engage in rooting out the evil that prevails and see it replaced with truth, righteousness, and justice.”
A Hard Goodbye
Mindful of the LRA’s history of abducting children – an estimated 20,000 to date – Bill Stough watched from his Cessna 206 as a group of raggedly clothed children gathered below the wing to wave goodbye.
“What will become of them?” he writes. “Please pray for them as you would for your own children.”