Renewing Christian Vocation Sector
Problem: Separation of spiritual affairs from worldly realities in Congolese understanding of Christian mission; division within and between Christian churches in Congo; endemic corruption, impunity and lack of integrity in Congolese society; lack of fully realized vision for Christian vocation in the church.
Target population: Church leaders, pastors, and members; lawyers and judges; Christ followers of any profession or vocation; young people considering the possibility, meaning, and purpose of Christian vocation.
Niche Interventions: Holistically developing professionals, public servants, lawyers and other considering their vocations by grounding them ethically and spiritually for their work. Interdenominational network and leadership development opportunities for church leaders and professionals.
- By 2020, Christian Community Restoration program staff and beneficiaries will embody transformational community.
- By 2020, 500 church leaders and Christian professionals report being inspired to integrate their faith, work, and vision for transformation in practice.
- By 2020, law professionals in North Kivu, South-Kivu and Ituri provinces will demonstrate competence and commitment to rule of law, good governance and ethical practice.
Many pastors in eastern Congo have very little to no training in theology or pastoral leadership. Without formal theological education, pastors are left to fend on their own as spiritual leaders of their congregations, ill-equipped to address the myriad challenges arising from the Congolese lived experience. The threats of poverty, trauma, and ongoing political instability create fear and anxiety for many. Furthermore, confused and unsatisfied lay persons eventually turn to some of the animistic beliefs of the culture for answers to their pain and problems.
Church leaders need further equipping as leaders, reliable theological teachers, advocates for healing and reconciliation, and champions of community development principles. They need to be given the opportunity to cultivate character and leadership qualities that will help them minister effectively in and to their communities.
Through our Center for Church Renewal and Global Mission, we facilitate the following activities in order to equip pastors with the resources needed to lead their congregations that are experiencing such difficult realities:
- leadership workshops
- theological training courses
- pastoral skills training (e.g. preaching, counseling)
- marriage enrichment seminars
- holistic community development
Congo Initiative serves pastors of all denominations, embodying the reconciliation that is needed today between faith communities.
Through our Center for Professional Development and Vocational Training, we seek to promote justice in Congo by elevating the voices and influence of those charged with doing so. We train and support lawyers, judges, and other legal professionals from eastern Congo to elevate justice in the context of a broken system.
The legal professionals we serve are doing extraordinary things to transform lives, such as the following:
- Aggressively prosecute those who commit violent crimes against women.
- Advocate for the wrongfully imprisoned and help to set them free.
- Give legal counsel to the poor, free of charge.
- Defend widows whose property rights are unjustly denied.
One exciting result of our work in this area is that Congolese Christian lawyer associations have formed and are meeting regularly for encouragement, mutual learning, and accountability.
The goal of these groups is to promote and advocate for transformation in the justice system, starting at a grassroots level. Active associations are now operating in the cities of Beni, Butembo, Bunia, and Goma.
Through the relentless pro bono services offered by the Bunia association, over 500 cases have been opened since 2013 of those suspected of being unjustly imprisoned, with more than 150 of those cases resulting in exoneration!
In April 2015 Congo Initiative’s 4th International Justice Conference was hosted on UCBC campus. Since then, the International Association of Christian Jurists has formed and has released an inaugural edition of a new magazine called Christian Jurists, telling the stories of transformed justice in eastern Congo.