Area: 2,345,410 sq km
Congo contains most of the Congo River system and much of the vast Central African rainforest.
Population: 67,827,495 Annual Growth: 2.80%
Official language: French. Trade languages Lingala/Bangala in north and northwest, Swahili in east and south, Tshiluba in centre and Kikongo/Tuba in west Languages: 217 All languages
Largest Religion: Christian
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The Church of Christ in Congo (ECC) was a conglomeration forced by government edict in 1970, which artificially bonded conservative Protestants, Pentecostals/charismatics and syncretistic African Initiated Churches, sixty-five denominations in all. Most evangelical leaders are now in favour of their membership in the ECC. Positive benefits include a reduction of tribalism in the Church, a reduction of unnecessary competition, rationalized administration and increased cooperation in training schemes and media. But today, restructuring, change and renewal are imperative in order to face the daunting challenges that exist. Pray for:
a) Nominal Christians to find new life in Christ. Nominalism is a major problem. Large numbers have no clear grasp of repentance and faith in Christ nor of salvation by grace and not works. Much nominalism is due to inadequate preaching of the gospel, satisfaction with a superficial response and failure to follow up with those touched by the preaching. There is a notable lack of biblical knowledge in most churches; pray that the Bible would be read, used and applied in churches in the DRC.
b) Revival churches, which are growing rapidly. Their spiritual liveliness and strong faith are positive, but many lack biblical teaching and are often led by charlatans who use their pastoral position for personal gain rather than to serve the faithful. Prosperity theology runs strong through these churches and draws in many with its promises of wealth for a population in desperate economic straits.
c) Syncretism, witchcraft and false teachings to be rooted out of the Church. Animistic thought patterns, occult influences and fear of witchcraft are major problems present in the underlying culture, polluting the faith of millions. Such continued spiritual ties oppress Christians and stymie their spiritual growth. Many are falsely accused and subject to cruel exorcism rituals. The JWs with glossy literature and cheap Bibles are making rapid inroads into the country.
d) Biblical leadership patterns. The cultural tendency toward centralized leadership has sometimes harmed local congregational life and initiative. It has stimulated hierarchical structures and has increased power seeking, pride of position and misuse of funds. It has compromised the Churchs prophetic role. Changes must come, but not at the expense of unity, fellowship and cooperation.
Pray for vision for the future. The DRC needs a complete re-evangelization. Colonial comity agreements and formation of the ECC served well in earlier eras, but they imposed rigid geographical boundaries on any outreach activity. This left many areas devoid of an evangelical witness and hindered cross-cultural outreach. There is great freedom to minister the gospel in many ways, but lack of vision, resources and stability hampers potential outreach. The work of the Holy Spirit in some areas has led to increased love for Gods Word, prayer movements, mobilization of youth and a new indigenous hymnody. Pray for:
a) New initiatives in research. After radical change prompted by the past chaos, destruction and displacement, a nationwide survey is desperately needed to reveal the state of the Church and the needs of the nation. Before strategies can be developed and implemented, the real situation in this vast, populous and complex nation must be understood. Pray for a team of capable researchers, supported by the national Churches, to undertake this daunting task.
b) New starts in evangelism and church work. The trauma experienced in the DRC betrays the failure of discipleship. But out of the ashes, new models of ministry holistic in approach, community-based, discipleship-focused and sustainable in nature can be developed. Pray that this opportunity for fresh ministry might be seized by believers, both indigenous and expatriate.
For an additional 6 Challenges for Prayer see Operation World book, CD-ROM, or DVD-ROM.
The Operation World book, CD-ROM, and DVD-ROM provide far more information and fuel for prayer for the people of Congo-DRC.