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BWA Youth Director Emmett Dunn, left, converses with Juvenal Nzosaba, general secretary of the Union of Baptist Churches in Burundi at the Bread of Life conference in Lagos


breach and is focusing on two areas in particular, education and health.


The church is determined to step into the breach . . . Baptists in the Central African Republic (CAR) also see the


The CBCA operates more than 400 primary and secondary schools and started a university. The education of females, or the lack thereof, is of particular concern. “Large families, those with fi ve or six children, cannot afford to send all the children to school. The tendency is to send the boys. The result is that we have more girls who are not going to school and who are illiterate,” Molo said.


Women are especially vulnerable as they suffered most during the war and in its aftermath. Molo agreed with a July 2011 Baptist World Alliance resolution on “confl ict minerals” from the DRC, which described the country as “the most dangerous place in the world to be a woman or a girl.” “Up until now, women continue to be massively raped due to the presence of armed groups, both local and foreign groups from Uganda and Rwanda.” The CBCA runs 150 medical centers, fi ve of which are hospitals with a count of between 80 and 150 beds each. The reason for the focus on education and health is simple.


Many of these facilities were destroyed during the war. “Whenever we move into a particular area, we immediately get in touch with the needs of the local people,” said Molo. It so happens that the lack of schools and healthcare centers are among the most urgent. “This is the reason why we have so many schools and medical centers. Wherever we go to start a church, it is likely that around that church will be a school and medical center to take care of the needs of the people.”


The Quest for Reconciliation


Burundi is still trying to recover from its own civil war. The Union of Baptist Churches in Burundi (UBCB) is working to help integrate back into the community rebels and the child soldiers that fought alongside them during the 13-year war. Thus far, approximately 100 child soldiers have been rehabilitated, many becoming Christians and active within their churches. Juvenal Nzosaba, general secretary of the UBCB, said that they provide training in auto mechanics, carpentry and plumbing for many of these rebels. “There is need for reconciliation. Peace and reconciliation is important,” Nzosaba elaborated. The union responded to the government’s appeal for churches to be engaged in the healing process for the country. “Some of our pastors serve on local reconciliation committees,” the Burundi Baptist leader stated. “We participate in seminars. The church is exploring ways to peace, reconciliation and justice.” Churches in Burundi, he said, are learning from the experiences of Rwanda and South Africa, which had instituted their own reconciliation programs after the genocide in 1994 and the apartheid era, respectively. At the same time, Baptists, who were the fi rst Protestant group to be established in Burundi and, according to Nzosaba, the largest Protestant church in the nation, are working to help displaced persons who have come in mainly from the DRC, Kenya and Tanzania, providing basic services such as clean drinking water.


JANUARY/MARCH 2012 19


need to reach out to their fellow citizens through social services. The 62,000-member Association of Evangelical Baptist Churches (AEBC) of the CAR, which was formed in 1954, operates three elementary schools and three health centers, and offers counseling to those affected by war. A focus of Baptists in the country is unity, according to Nicolas Aime Simplice Singa-Gbazia, president of the AEBC, and Esaie Foungala, executive secretary of the Baptist Churches Union of the CAR. All 10 Baptist groups in the nation, they said, including all four BWA member bodies, have joint meetings and seminars, and are moving toward forming a fellowship organization for closer cooperation. Baptist leaders in Francophone Africa are anxious that their countrymen and Baptists in particular, take responsibility for their nation. “We are exploring self-funding initiatives,” Nzosaba said. “We have to encourage our own people to contribute.” Molo, while acknowledging that the DRC’s colonial history has played a role in the recent and current troubles faced by his country, refused to give Congolese a free pass. “Historically, what we are experiencing now is what we have experienced from colonial times. But personally, I prefer to do my best not to think in terms of the past. I think 50 years of independence should lead to the education of our own people. We need to take responsibility to get rid of any negative elements of what we inherited from colonial times.”


In response to these tumultuous upheavals, Baptists have been engaged in helping to bring healing and development in their country. Baptist World Aid, the relief and development arm of the BWA, working through various BWA member bodies, has funded HIV/AIDS, agricultural, and displaced persons resettlement projects in the DRC alone. Baptists in Rwanda, through assistance from BWAid, have helped to bring various groups together to help move the country forward.


Kakule Molo, president of the Baptist Community in Central Africa in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

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