Change Congo and You Change the World
photo by Julien Harneis
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Do you believe the world can change? If so, how can change come to the Congo? Recently I came across a news post on CNN entitled “Why the world is ignoring Congo War”. In it, the writer lists the realities of the ongoing war in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Throngs of armed militias are fighting for control of Congo’s natural resources “destined for sale in Europe, USA, and Canada.” These militias are displacing thousands of people from villages, leaving 200,000 people in terrible living conditions, killing countless, and using rape as a weapon of war.

What is the answer to this crisis?

One possible answer is to ignore the situation, “It’s not our problem.” But is this Just? Some years ago Romeo Dallaire, the UN commander in Rwanda during the genocide, spoke at the University of Waterloo. When questioned whether Canada should bother doing anything in light of recent global humanitarian crises, he responded by asking, “Are we more human than they are?” It is hard to be faced with the intrinsic value and equality of each person and yet decide not to help.

What about military intervention? If Canada took more of a military or peace keeping role in the Congo, it would no doubt cost us in resources and lives. But perhaps the cost is worth it. Or maybe the answer is in supporting the central government to crack down on the anarchy. But if that were to happen there would still be the problem of how guerilla warfare militias can be fought with tanks and armies.

If military intervention is fraught with problems, what about supplying education and small business investments? Literacy, education, and small business empowerment help in any nation fighting against the social evils and injustices that hold it back. But for these developments to flourish there needs to be a strong rule of law and security in the country. Without that, people will fear going to school and starting businesses.

But suppose there was strong military action which suppressed the violence in the Congo, and there were a proliferation of education and small business measures taken to empower the next generation. Would that change the root of the moral evils and social injustices in the Congo? If military power and education is the solution to all moral evil and injustice in society, why does moral evil and injustice still persist in a militarily secure and educationally prosperous country like Canada? Corruption, greed, spousal abuse, sexual abuse, lying, jealousy, betrayal, apathy, dishonor to the elderly, broken marriages, and the devaluing of human life still continue here daily.

Change the heart
To change the world, first we need to change. But how? Few, if any social reformers have had as enduring an influence on the world as Jesus. Jesus identifies the heart of humanity as the root of the problems of our world (Mark 7:20-23). This is because naturally, we desire to satisfy ourselves first, not thinking of others.

In order for moral evil and social injustice to change in our society, Jesus says that our hearts need to change from the inside out. This change does not come through our moral efforts or religious observance (ironically). Rather, it comes through the Spirit of God changing our hearts. This change can only come when we put our trust in Jesus for the forgiveness of the evil in our own hearts and his promise of new life. When this happens, our selfish desires, bitterness, jealousy, impatience, hatred, and pride become replaced with his desires of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, and humility. To change the fruit of a tree, you would not staple new fruit onto it but you would change the root. In the same way, Jesus says in order for the fruit of mankind to change, the root of mankind must change: our hearts. This change is what he offers the world.

To see the world changed, we must answer the direct realities of how the Congo can change.

What do you think is the answer for fundamental change to come to the Congo?

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