Crisis in Congo-link to a letter to Senators

A google search of “crisis in Congo” returned 2,120,000 hits.  It’s not like the world doesn’t know there’s a problem, a big problem.  Harper McConnell, of Heal Africa, explained that while many international organizations have pulled out of Congo, they are still working in the midst of the conflict.  Their web site tells of the ongoing life changing and life saving work they do.  

Several  ACTION STEPS that we can take are listed on their web site, along with the following explanation: “Through much of the media, the unrest is presented as a tribal conflict, but it is a conflict rooted in control for resources. Resources such as coltan (in latops and cell phones), diamonds, gold, tantalum, minerals which drive the global economy. It is the people of DR Congo who are suffering for the extraction of these minerals which are sold to multinational companies. Write your senator using this letter to tell them to support Senate Bill 3058 and enforce multinationals to follow strict extraction and purchasing guidelines. ”  (There’s also a link to a letter to write to companies using coltan to check their sources, a link to a petition to print out and gather signatures on, and a donation link).  

The video linked here shows another report done by the Pulitzer Center on Coltan and the Congo: 

Newly Elected Head of Karen National Union

Naw Zipporah Sein, a long time leader of the Karen Women’s Organization, and former Nobel Peace Prize nominee, was elected head of the Karen National Union (KNU) last week.  The YouTube video linked below shows an interview done in July of 2007, discussing the situation in her country and the ways she has been involved in advocacy for many many years.   She is a leader who tries to bring unity, who “reaches across the aisle,” and who serves her people with integrity….. may God bless her, give her wisdom, and protect her.  (The last person who had this job was assassinated in February of 2008).

Child sexual abuse

Warning, I’m angry!  Heard another story this week of yet another young woman trying to deal with the memories of abuse suffered at the hands of people she should have been able to trust as a child.  (There are too many stories, and yes, I know it’s not just women telling them).

A long time ago, I watched a friend’s child have to testify in court against her step dad for his crimes against her humanity.  I will never forget.  As a naive Christian (I’m still a Christian, but hopefully less naive about the reality of evil and of people making really sucky choices and doing awful things to each other all over the world), I was left appropriately speechless.  Pat answers, platitudes, and cliches come up pretty coldly empty at that point.  What do you say in the face of evil?  

The only hope I could find in that moment grew into the poem below….    

The Betrayal


The night is dark and stormy

There’s a cold wind in my soul

Seems like I’ve been torn apart

And never will be whole.

The suffocating weight that rests

Upon my broken heart

Holds me in my silence–
Lord, when will the healing start?


I cast about in frantic hope

That there might somehow be

Someone who can reach out

To break these chains and set me free.

But who can know the torment?

Who can really comprehend

Unless they too have been betrayed

By loved one or by friend?


As I cower in desperation

And in fear of what shall be,

A picture comes to mind

I know that you have given me…

I see you hanging on a cross

In agony betrayed,

Naked, torn and bleeding

So that we can be saved.

The one who lived and walked with you,

With whom you shared your soul

Was the person who betrayed you—

All my agony you know!



(Please do not misunderstand my point….I am not in any way trying to trivialize the suffering, grief, betrayal, rejection and incredible damages done by people who do this stuff!  I am only trying to say it’s OK to be really honest with the rage, anger, pain, betrayal and that, since God knows what you’re thinking anyway, talk to Him about it.  Jesus also was betrayed by someone He had shared life with.  Don’t let the abusers win, and destroy you.  Your life is worth more than that!)


“We don’t have a priest who is out of touch with our reality….Take the mercy, accept the help.”  (Hebrews 4:15-16 The Message). 

UN Classifies Rape As A Weapon of War….

The following article from the BBC news on June 20th took my breath away.  My first thought, I will admit, was “is the place run by men?”  (Yes, I realize that is a biased, unfair, sexist, ignorant and politically incorrect and insensitive statement, but come on!  Women have known this for years!)  The fact that it has to be stated, now, after years of hearing about rape camps in Serbia, the continuing brutal atrocities in eastern Congo, the SPDC’s use of rape to terrorize the ethnic minorities in Burma, and many other situations around the world where rape has been used for centuries (and in this century!) to terrorize and control communities, I’m amazed, apalled, and out of adjectives that it has now become clear to the UN.

The following report published by the SWAN (Shan Women’s Action Network) documents the use of rape by the SPDC in Burma.  The experience is also similar for the other ethnic minorities in Burma.  An excerpt from executive summary of this report (linked below) states:

The report gives clear evidence that rape is officially condoned as a ‘weapon of war’ against the civilian populations in Shan State. There appears to be a concerted strategy by the Burmese army troops to rape Shan women as part of their anti-insurgency activities. The incidents detailed were committed by soldiers from 52 different battalions. 83% of the rapes were committed by officers, usually in front of their own troops. The rapes involved extreme brutality and often torture such as beating, mutilation and suffocation. 25% of the rapes resulted in death, in some incidences with bodies being deliberately displayed to local communities. 61% were gang-rapes; women were raped within military bases, and in some cases women were detained and raped repeatedly for periods of up to 4 months. Out of the total 173 documented incidents, in only one case was a perpetrator punished by his commanding officer. More commonly, the complainants were fined, detained, tortured or even killed by the military.” 

Heal Africa works to repair the lives and bodies of women suffering brutal rapes in the Congo. The documentation of the nightmare going on there is endless.  Heal Africa is part of the good news in a very dark place.

In the NY Times on June 15th, Nicholas Kristoff puts it like this, “First, mass rape is very effective militarily. From the viewpoint of a militia, getting into a firefight is risky, so it’s preferable to terrorize civilians sympathetic to a rival group and drive them away, depriving the rivals of support.

Second, mass rape attracts less international scrutiny than piles of bodies do, because the issue is indelicate and the victims are usually too ashamed to speak up.” (link below)

I don’t mean to seem ungrateful.  This is a major step!  Admitting rape happens, and happens a lot, and shouldn’t happen is all good!  Thank you, UN, for finally making it official.   Now, can you do anything about it?