CHICAGO, IL (May 8, 2018) – President Gary Walter had one last international trip he wanted to make sure to take before retiring this summer: DR Congo.
The Democratic Republic of Congo had recently come through years of brutal civil strife claiming some five million lives when Walter first assumed office in 2008. The devastating impact on the Equateur Province where the Covenant has been in partnership with the Covenant Church in Congo (CEUM) for more than 80 years was overwhelming.
Children were dying from malnutrition and simple childhood diseases. The five CEUM hospitals and 100 medical clinics had been ransacked, as had schools that served more than 65,000 students. People walked kilometers to access unclean water. Yet the spiritual work of the CEUM continued to thrive and grow to more than 1,600 churches. More than two million people were touched through the various initiatives of the CEUM.
The needs were beyond what any single entity could undertake alone, however, even with the dedicated partnership of the ECC and its related Congo ministries, including a returning missionary team, Paul Carlson Partnership, and Covenant Women projects.
Walter came back from that first trip burdened. And thus was born the largest-ever partnership between World Vision and a denomination: Covenant Kids Congo, powered by World Vision (CKC).
Close to 10,000 child sponsorships have been entered into by Covenanters. Even more funds have come for major clean water projects. Funds are pooled for community transformation projects that benefit not just the sponsored child but everyone in the community.
Recently Walter went back with a team of seven leaders. Describing the trip, said, “Choose any of the following words. They are all correct: Amazed. Humbled. Impressed. Grateful. Encouraged. Resolved. Convinced. Motivated. Teary.”
He continued, “What is rooting in is actually ahead of where I thought we could be at this point. There is genuinely impressive, visible progress. The clean water projects (deep wells/towers/spring taps/distribution system) already serving 40,000 people are incredible feats of engineering. The new schools, the refurbished and stocked clinics—tangible and operative.”
He added, “And there is equally impressive not-so-visible-to the-eye progress. Already 4,000–5,000 mothers of sponsored children are in savings groups (which means 4,000–5,000 families are on a new income trajectory); advocacy programs are bringing the voice of the community forward; children’s programs like Child Parliament where children address legitimate concerns of kids (we watched a session on child labor); manioc fields and processing factory; coffee farms, and other agricultural and nutritional projects.”
The team had dinner with the province’s new governor and Gemena’s mayor, both of whom expressed deep appreciation for the progress. Both also attended a special worship service honoring the work of the CEUM/ECC partnership. The governor is currently traveling in the US, using the partnership as an example to other agencies of what can happen in an area long overlooked by most. Coincidently, among the governor’s first official acts was to dedicate a bridge that was built with the help of the Paul Carlson Partnership.
The Covenant group also traveled to Karawa, where they visited the CEUM hospital, nursing schools and a new library for nursing students, the Lycée Vanette school for girls, the Zulu Camp and Discipleship Center, the Zulu hydro-electric dam, Kungu primary school, and the Fulu Kolongo health center. Projects in this area are made possible in part by PCP and Women Ministries.
Walter emphasized, “Let me underscore my highest regard for the World Vision staff, all of whom are from throughout Africa. They have done tremendous work under very trying conditions. This is true and transformative work well done and well underway. This is the real deal.”
For more information about CKC, visit the website. Many churches are sponsoring 6ks for Water this month, which will expand water projects for even greater reach.
Walter concluded, “My heart is full, my confidence is high, and my gratitude for each Covenanter who participates is great. Of course the need and the challenges remain great and we must take a long horizon ahead, but tens of thousands of lives are already impacted, including the three girls we sponsor that I got to meet for the first time. And more progress is yet to come!”