Photo Credit: Province de L'Eglise Anglicane Du Congo
Young people from the Democratic Republic of Congo are rising up as reconcilers in their communities. At the Diocese of Goma’s second annual youth conference, teenagers and young adults from across the diocese spent four days praying, worshiping, and playing football together, creating friendships that cross tribal lines. The conference, which began on 16 August, was titled Whole Life Discipleship, with a focus on unity and reconciliation.
Clergy from the diocese accompanied young people from their congregations, and participate in the opening and closing ceremonies with them. They also focused on the same theme at their own parallel conference. The main speaker, a delegate from the Faith2Share charity office in Nairobi, the capital of Kenya, led workshops, encouraging the clergy to refocus their lives on discipleship. Bishop of Goma, Bishop Desire Makanirwa explained that this is crucial for the Church.
“As Christians, we are called to be disciples. But sometimes we need to be reminded of that,” he said. “Sometimes we are not witnessing the love of Christ.”
Bishop Desire explained that focusing on unity and reconciliation was particularly important in landscape of post-war DRC. He explained that the years of war left side effects, such as conflicts between tribes. These conflicts made it difficult for communities to move forward. “The Church has to play a prophetic role and lead others to unity and love,” he said. “We must be agents of reconciliation.”
Football also played a major role in achieving reconciliation. Through the ability of kicking around a ball, the Bishop explained, members of different tribes, particularly ones in conflict, can come together. According to Bishop Desire, youth “can start a link, be a witness, and can be the beginning of cutting through the layers of anger. It is how we can all become more united and open.” Over the course of the conference, Bishop Desire heard testimonies of these football bringing youth together and he hopes these new friendships can continue to bring reconciliation to his diocese.
During the conference, 80 young people from across the diocese were confirmed and another four were baptised.
“I am very happy.” Bishop Desire commented. “Now they are full Anglicans!
“We must prepare the Church,” Bishop Desire went on, commenting on the importance of discipline youth. “They are going to live longer than us. They have to be trained in ministry. We must prepare the future leaders of the Church.”
Plans are already underway for next year’s conference.