Here is what the Congolese have to say:
DRC, 13th May 2015.
Bishops, Reverends, Pastors;
To Pastor Rick Warren and the leadership of Saddleback Church,
We, as pastors in the Democratic Republic of Congo, have watched the suffering of our people for more than twenty years, shepherding our flocks through some of the most trying times of our country’s history.
We have witnessed our youth swept away from church, slaughtered like animals while others are taken by force into armed groups. We have buried our own children prematurely from preventable deaths because of failed healthcare institutions as a result of repetitive war.
We have seen God-fearing mamas degraded to sex slaves, gang raped and brutalized.
We have watched respectable fathers being emasculated in front of their families, losing their businesses once, twice, even three times, reduced to the humiliation of watching their communities decimated, powerless to stop it.
We have toiled. We have wept. We have fought on behalf of our churches and communities, though we are also victims of these injustices and our families equally as vulnerable to the tragedies of the people we lead.
The tragedy of it is that this battle is not over. We haven’t afforded the privilege of speaking about these events like a dark memory that we are recovering from. This is no memory. It is a reality: a reality that we as your brothers and sisters in Christ are living everyday.
We write this letter to you as Christian leaders who are looking for solutions. We are looking for ways to stop the cycle.
Pastor Rick, if you saw your sheep suffering through the same atrocities, what would you do? What would you do if you knew that there were brothers and sisters who could speak up for them?
President Paul Kagame has supported foreign invasions into our nation for the past twenty years. It started in 1996 with AFDL when our former president Mobutu Sese Seko was overthrown. On the road to our country’s recovery from the collapsed government of President Mobutu Sese Seko, Rwandan troops lead by Kagame’s administration have continually invaded from the east under the visage of different rebel groups such as (RCD) 1998, (RCD-KM) 1999, (CNDP) 2003, LRA from 2004 supported by Joseph Kony, ADF-NALU 1984 by Jamil Mukul.
The most recent invasion was through M23 in 2013. We witnessed men in Rwanda’s military uniform overtake Goma, a city of 1 million people.
Today, we are watching the cycle occur all over again. Former M23 soldiers have abandoned their resettlement camps in Uganda, rebranded themselves and are preparing for yet again another invasion with a new MCRC Christian Movement of Restoration of Congo. It seems that God has elevated Saddleback church to a place of influence in President Kagame’s administration. We believe that this is for a purpose.
We ask that you tell Paul Kagame to honor his commitment to not extend his term in office.
We ask that you promote democracy and speak out for the rights of the Rwandan people to have freedom to organize and practice free speech.
Most importantly, we ask that you speak against the support of foreign militant groups backed by Kagame’s administration.
We, as Congolese, understand the complexities of our situation and are taking the responsibility for building resilient communities that practice true shalom. But we need the help of our brothers and sisters abroad to speak up for the wars being fought on our soil that are not our own.
James 4:17 says “to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.” We are asking that Saddleback Church will speak for true justice and equity for all people in the Africa Great Lakes Region, especially those who are oppressed. We know that this may not be favorable in the eyes of the current administrations.
But if we are all Christians, we must believe that we were all created for a purpose and declaring purpose on one people while denying the rights for others to pursue theirs is not the way of justice.
Names withheld due to threat of assassination by Rwandan forces.