How do you recover from inter-tribal violence and turmoil when friends and family are injured or killed, homes burned, cattle stolen, and you have had to flee to a refugee camp? Many East Congolese refugees touched by such trauma have arrived in Bellevue, WA, and have found their way to New Hope Revival at Bellevue Presbyterian Church (BelPres). They are an integral part of this diverse worshipping community and offer an amazing testimony to the power of God’s love.
In response to the enduring crisis in their homeland, Pastor Alexis Ruhumuriza, has been given a vision to create a Reconciliation Center in Minembwe, East Congo to serve as a gathering plae and training center.
New Hope Congo is in the process of becoming a nonprofit organization. It began as a ministry run by volunteers with support from BelPres. We are dedicated to addressing the decades-long devastation inflicted by conflict in South Kivu in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). We are focused on healing the wounds caused by intertribal conflict in South Kivu and working with all peoples of that area to bring reconciliation between tribes. For us, this is not just another place of injustice that needs help – it is the homeland where our brothers and sisters at New Hope Revival were born and raised, as well as many other people and tribes. It is a place where people continue to suffer the loss of loved ones, property, security, and dignity.
Through the visionary leadership of Pastor Alexis, the commitment of the BelPres/New Hope community, the tireless efforts of our team in South Kivu, and the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, we believe God is writing a new story for East Congo, transforming this community through love and forgiveness.
New Hope Congo sprang from the vision of its founder, Pastor Alexis Ruhumuriza, a native of East Congo and a refugee from Rwanda where he spent his post-childhood years.
The New Hope Congo ministry at BelPres is co-led by Pastor Alexis and BelPres member Mark Phelps (with a church-led executive team). They have cultivated an intentionally inter-tribal team on the ground in Minembwe, South Kivu to establish New Hope Reconciliation Center and its ministries.
Eleven Congolese are reaching out to local chiefs, pastors, and other community leaders to bring people together to hear God’s message of love and healing through forgiveness and reconciliation. Pastor Joseph Harera, the leader of the effort, reports that “people are excited, as this is the first time anyone has approached them with a vision that treats all four tribes the same and promotes acceptance and forgiveness between tribes.”
For those who have witnessed their loved ones being massacred and have barely survived with their own lives, forgiveness and reconciliation are hard. But in the words of Pastor Alexis, nothing is impossible with God. Where others see roadblocks, he sees possibilities. “God’s way is to bring people together, creating a new way, transforming a traumatized community into a new community of love, forgiveness, healing and hope,” says Pastor Alexis. He reminds us – it is God’s plan, not his.