Congolese people and their world neighbors have been hoping for peace and progress in the troubled region. The November 28 elections in Democratic Republic of Congo were its second free elections since independence from Belgium in 1960. But the official election results announced last Friday are in dispute, with the reputed winner and the opposition candidate both declaring themselves president. Reports of irregular voting procedures and preelection violence have led international observers to conclude that the election process lacked credibility.
Democratic Republic of Congo is the world’s 11th largest country geographically, with abundant natural resources and great potential. But civil war, foreign interventions, and power struggles, fueled largely by competition for resources and ethnic strife, have left Congo in a humanitarian crisis. The country faces poverty, hunger, displacement, unstable governance, lack of infrastructure, and ongoing violence, including widespread sexual violence as a tool of war.
Although Congo may seem far away, it’s more connected to our daily life than we might think. It has extensive mineral reserves including about 80 percent of the world’s coltan, an essential component in electronics, from circuit boards to smart phones. It has oil and gas reserves, plus hydroelectric resources that could power much of Africa. Congo is centrally located in sub-Saharan Africa, so its political stability is key to the whole region.
Beyond practical considerations, we’re connected heart to heart to the people of Congo because all men, women, and children are brothers and sisters in the worldwide human family, all deserving a good and peaceful life. So as I prepare for the holiday season, I want to include Congo’s population in my gift-giving. What kind of gift could I possibly give to help?
The gift of prayer is one of the most precious things we can give – or receive. Prayer that aligns thought with spiritual truths about God (the Father-Mother of us all) and His-Her spiritual creation helps leaven thought and promote progress, and “A little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough” (Galatians 5:9, New American Standard Bible).
A Congolese friend of mine who lives in Congo told me he prays regularly for his country. In 1998, when his province of Bas-Congo was under rebel siege, he felt inspired to pray with the Lord’s Prayer and its spiritual interpretation by Monitor founder Mary Baker Eddy in "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures." He prayerfully affirmed the Congolese people’s unassailable oneness with God, divine Mind, acknowledging that God governed his country in peace, harmony, and unity.
My friend strove to live that peacefulness daily with the people around him. He held firmly to the spiritual truth that nothing could overthrow divine peace or destroy his country’s unity. He prayed with Psalm 46, which reads in part: “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.... He maketh wars to cease unto the end of the earth ... Be still, and know that I am God.” A week later, the situation calmed down in his area, and there wasn’t any pillaging in his neighborhood. Although he and his family didn’t have enough money during that time, all their daily needs were met. My friend felt that his prayers, along with those of many others, contributed to this resolution.
As I pray to support Congo during this holiday season, I’m inspired by the Christmas story. When Mary and Joseph went to Bethlehem, Mary gave birth to Jesus in a humble stable. In a field nearby, shepherds were watching over their flocks that night. An angel (a message from God) appeared to them, saying: “Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.” A multitude of angels chimed: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men” (Luke 2:10, 11, 14).
The shepherds went to Bethlehem to see the newborn child, the promised Savior or Christ. They felt God’s presence deeply and shared with others what they had seen and felt.
Divine Love is always shepherding humanity’s thought toward the Christ, the consciousness of God’s sovereign reign of peace and harmony. The divine Father-Mother brings this message to every corner of the globe, especially those places most in need.
To me, the Christ is the true idea of our spiritual identity, the awareness of the childlike innocence and fundamental goodness of each individual. God unfolds each person’s unique individuality and contribution to the world. Divine Mind communicates to every person and nation the constructive ideas that foster progress and meet every human need. This awareness will ultimately save humanity from every form of ignorance or oppression.
God, omnipotent divine Love, is giving to all humankind this wonderful gift of universal love, peace, and cooperation.
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