Compassionate ministry in the Democratic Republic of Congo, a country in the throes of reconstruction after a bloody civil war and unrest that claimed the lives of some five million people, occupies Bruce and Anita Paden. Bruce seeks to strengthen the church, while the focus of Anita’s ministry is to help grieving children, teens and former child soldiers who have lost parents and other family members.
The Padens were appointed by CBFMS (now WorldVenture) in 1983. In 1986, they arrived in Congo (then called Zaire), where they both taught at the Bible Institute at Rwanguba. They returned to the United States in 1993 and a year later they joined Mission to the Americas. In July 1997, however, WorldVenture reappointed Bruce and Anita to what was now renamed the “Democratic Republic of Congo.”
Arriving back in DR Congo at the end of September 1999, they found the country in the throes of the civil war. The Padens have worked with the leadership of the Evangelical Baptist Community of Eastern Congo (CEBCE), a church community that has nearly 60,000 members. Bruce and Anita have helped heal divisions in the church community and have worked to develop programs that will result in both strong local churches and an effective national church organization.
The Padens have had the additional challenge of trying to find help for traumatized, homeless, hungry individuals and victims of rape who have fled the insecurity of their home areas and gone to other, more secure areas in the same country.
Anita started a program in Goma to help the many children who are grieving the loss of family members in the violent conflicts that have ravaged Congo. This is a program where children support children and teens support teens with the help of trained facilitators.
The ongoing unrest in DR Congo means that we must continue to seek help for “internally displaced people,” or IDPs, from the Baptist Church community who have had to flee their homes because of attacks on their villages. The Padens are involved, along with Congolese colleagues, in a major effort to reform both the structure and function of the church association at the national level. The expansion and organizational stability of New Hope Center are also major challenges.
Pray for an end to the unrest and violence in Congo that true “peace with real justice” may yet come to Congo. Pray for vision for church leaders that they may be willing to make needed changes in the structure and organization of the church at the national level. Pray for the many orphans and widows in DR Congo and for the expansion and organizational stability of New Hope Center.