On Sunday, Archbishop Zechariah Masimango Katanda, began his address to all
the churches of DR Congo with 1 Thes 5:16-18 -
“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
The Archbishop asked his clergy to stop gatherings and church services while encouraging their parishioners to instead observe Lenten activities in their home worship. He said;
“Remember that prayer feeds hope and solidarity. We know very well how much faith helps to resist and overcome the spread of the epidemic of fear caused by COVID-19.”
At a time when our society in Ireland is struggling to come to terms with all that is happening here because of Covid-19, there is very good reason for us to listen most especially to the words of our partners in Eastern DR Congo.
In April 2018, Eastern DR Congo recorded four cases of Ebola. Almost exactly one year later the number of cases per day peaked at 140. The most recent figures are from January 2020 when in a period of seven days only 14 new infections were noted. Throughout these two years of crisis, CMSI has partnered with our three global partners in Eastern DR Congo: Kindu, North Kivu and Bukavu Dioceses. During that time, they have come “to know very well” the fear an epidemic can bring.
Now, just as DR Congo hoped it would emerge from the Ebola crisis, President Tshisekidi has called for further measures of prevention and isolation, against Covid-19. Yet, hear more of what Archbishop Masimango had to say to his
“Every crisis is an opportunity for mission; let us take advantage of this period for more harvest for the Glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. Let's be available and hearing the Voice of the Holy Spirit!
Let us follow Daniel's example during the period of Captivity of the Israelites in Babylon, he was determined to keep turning to God, until the time promised by the prophet Jeremiah, was accomplished (Daniel 9:1-20).
We say “No” to the spread of the epidemic of fear. Here, we see the Church as the Body of Christ, not as a building!
May God bless you all in the exercise of your ministries.”
Throughout the Ebola crisis, the Church in DR Congo has shown by example how to exercise ministry during crisis. Our partner dioceses been at the centre of prevention education; promoting regular and effective hand washing and have counterbalanced the myths about Ebola, by including factual health education in church services.
The Church has also been a centre radiating real hope for Eastern DR Congo: reducing stigma, upholding dignity for those who have died and been buried in isolation from their families, reminding believers of their sure and certain hope and God's faithful presence with His Church.
As we pray for ourselves in these unprecedented and solemn days, may we hear the confident hope of our Global Partners who have passed this way before; “Rejoice always, pray continually….”, may we be the Church at the centre of our communities “available and hearing the voice of the Holy Spirit”, and may we remember to pray for our partners in Eastern DR Congo who are preparing to stand strong as the Body of Christ as they face yet another epidemic crisis.
This blog is part of our special 'Voices Of Hope' series - as we seek to provide stories of light during this time of uncertainty and upheaval.