Democratic Republic of the Congo - Africa
Nearly one-fourth the size of the US, the DRC is the second largest country in Africa and is home to over a hundred-million souls. Watered by the Congo River and sprawling on both sides of the equator, this country boasts the world’s second-largest rainforest. It was in the heart of these jungles that BIMI had its beginnings. The precursor to Baptist International Missions was the Congo Gospel Mission founded for the evangelism of this country. By the grace of God, ministries still remain today that were started by the pioneers that the Congo Gospel Mission first sent out.
This region was originally controlled by an ancient Bantu kingdom who permitted the Belgians to open a trading post near the current capital. Eventually becoming a Belgian colony in 1908, the DRC saw action in both world wars, fighting the German colony of Tanganyika and the Italians in Ethiopia. It obtained freedom in 1960, but less than a month afterwards, internal fighting began, and within its first five years, it had seen a number of leaders and governments put in power and deposed. It was during this time that the Simba Rebellion took place, in which several missionaries lost their lives. When a victor emerged from the conflict, the country—then named Zaire—became relatively stable for thirty years under a single president. While he found ways to enrich himself at his country’s expense, the DRC’ infrastructure deteriorated quickly. The First Congo War started when he was forced to flee. The Second Congo War took place a year later incited both by internal discontent and invasions from bordering countries. It is claimed that this war, which cost hundreds of thousands of lives, was the bloodiest since the second World War. Rebellions, mutinies, and battles have followed each other since that time, and the country’s rich natural resources provide a high incentive for many to take advantage of the general unrest. Millions of Congolese have died in the past twenty years through the effects of famine, disease, and local violence.
While Kinshasa, the capital, is located on the Western coast and is the largest city, the most populated region is near its northeastern border. The rest of its population is scattered in rural towns and small villages throughout the country. The country’s general instability and violence have not deterred refugees from coming from surrounding countries, and hundreds of thousands of refugees can be found within the DRC. French is the official language. A French-style trade language is also largely spoken along with several African languages such as Lingala, Swahili, and Kikingo. Most of the Congolese cling to beliefs bearing the name of Christianity, but with almost no resemblance to Biblical Christianity. Indigenous beliefs and false doctrine have flooded the country leaving many people strongly religious, but “having no hope and without God in the world.”
BIMI had personnel in the DRC, back in the Zaire days, but after a few short years the violence forced all missionaries to evacuate. Several trips have been made since that time to encourage the national church and to prepare the way for a new generation of missionaries. We are excited about the Tasker family preparing for ministry in this country!