With the world focused on the COVID-19 pandemic and politics, few know about suffering in a remote mountain corner of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Southeast Christian Church staff member Victor Mikebanyi knows. The Banyamulenge are his people.
In 2019, the Mai-Mai militia burned more than 300 villages, torched crops, stole 250,000 cows and killed hundreds of the Banyamulenge tribe. Mikebanyi treasures photos of friends who perished. The Banyamulenge now live in makeshift camps in Minembwe surrounded by militia, cut off from their gardens.
“No one is defending them,” Mikebanyi said. “These are my people. They are dying of hunger and starvation. Even the children. We have suffered before, but we have never watched our children die. Those who try to get food from their fields are killed.”
According to news reports in the Eastern Congo Tribune, four women recently were decapitated trying to get food from their gardens.
When Mikebanyi told co-workers in Southeast’s Missions Ministry all that is happening in Congo, the church donated $15,000 to provide powdered milk and corn flour. Mikebanyi contacted Michael and Lisa Moore, who work in Minembwe with LaOlam Africa. Since roads leading into Minembwe are cut off by militia, food had to be airlifted into the area.
“The militia have isolated my people so those who are not killed by bullets or machetes will die of hunger,” Mikebanyi said.
Lisa Moore said it’s hard to put into words the sorrow and suffering in Minembwe.
“So many are traumatized,” she said. “It’s a difficult place under the best of normal circumstances. However, now after more than two years of violent conflict, refugees fleeing attacked and destroyed villages, loss of cattle and no safe access to their gardens, the people are literally starving. It’s all exasperated by COVID-19 shutdowns and border closures causing a national food shortage.”
The Moores gathered area pastors to distribute food—enough to last a couple of weeks.
“We know that thousands are eating this week that would have nothing without that gift,” she said.
Mikebanyi continues to pray constantly for his people. Members of Southeast’s Multination Campus will gather to pray all night for those suffering in the Congo.
“I can’t say thank you enough to Southeast for saving my people,” Mikebanyi said. “I’ve been thinking that’s why I’m at Southeast.”