Lent is just around the corner, and at Tearfund we’ve been reflecting on the theme of restoration – how God takes the ashes of our brokenness and forges a crown of beauty. There are few places in the world where brokenness is more apparent than in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

It’s a country of cruel contrast: it’s one of the wealthiest nations on the planet, with an abundance of gold, diamonds, copper and oil; yet, because of unjust exploitation, ethnic conflict and corruption, most of the population live in abject poverty.

Deep in the dense forest that covers most of the country, live the Mbuti pygmies – an ethnic group that are marginalised by the communities around them.

‘The modern day pygmy has gone through generations of being victimised, oppressed and degraded,’ says David McAllister, Tearfund’s Country Director for the DRC. Their relationships with other people groups in the DRC are in desperate need of restoration; many consider them to be subhuman.

Paid in poison
For Matunda, a mother of three, the only way to get any food is to work on a nearby farm. She toils in the intense heat, but doesn’t get a share of the produce. She is paid in scraps – a handful of cassava leaves and yams.

Her young family only eat one small meal a day. It’s barely enough to survive.

The harsh diet of boiled yams and cassava leaves is not good for the family’s health. Eating too much cassava can result in severe illness, as it contains trace amounts of poison.

‘We don’t have the tools to cultivate our land,’ Matunda explains. ‘I feel incredibly sad when I don’t have anything to give the children, but I don't know where to get more food.’

True value
But there is hope, because the church is here, bringing God’s restoring love with them.

‘We need to work with people to change mentalities, and for that reason we work with the church,’ says David McAllister. We know at Tearfund that, as well as helping people with their physical needs, it’s just as important to restore spiritual fullness.

Through the local church, we’re reaching out to Matunda and the other pygmy families – helping them acquire the tools and skills they need to grow their own food. And, throughout this process, we’ll be helping them understand their true value as loved and created by God.

There is so much that needs to be done to help restore the lives of the Mbuti pygmies. But we know that, through the relentless love of God, all things are possible. Please continue to pray for this work.

Please pray:

  • Pray that attitudes towards the Mbuti pygmies in the DRC will change, and that all will begin to see them as God sees them. Pray that the love that the church is bringing will break through.
  • Pray for the success of the projects aiming to end hunger among the Mbuti pygmies. Pray for Matunda and other families like hers; ask for God to comfort and strengthen them.
  • Pray for the DRC as a whole: that there will be a total end to the corruption and conflict that has blighted it for so long, and that all who live there will be able to share in its wealth.

Based on a story first published in Tear Times.

Thank you for your prayers. If you feel led, there are a number of other ways you can join with us this Lent. We have a series of Lent devotionals on the theme of restoration, or you could take on the Mean Bean Challenge eating nothing but rice and beans for five days to raise funds to support people like Matunda. Or, if you feel moved to support us financially, you can donate to our Lent appeal here. Thank you.

Gideon Heugh

Gideon is a copywriter in the Global Brand and Communications team. When he's not wrestling with the muse / his keyboard, you will often find him traipsing up a mountain or burying his head in a book.

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