Christians Launch Prayer Initiative for Congo Peace

LONDON – A new prayer movement has been launched in a bid to mobilize U.K. Christians in praying for lasting peace in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Prayer for Peace in Congo has been set up to encourage Christians to "pray, act and give" on behalf of the people in Congo, a country marred by years of fighting between the government and rebel forces that has left more than five million people dead in the last decade.

Its initiator, Pastor Kanyemesha of London Fire Church International, said there was an "urgent need" for prayer and action to address the poverty, destitution and powerlessness of the people in Congo, where hundreds of thousands remain displaced as a result of the conflict.

"I believe that this is the time when Christians across denominations have to stand up in prayer in a common agreement for peace and reconciliation," he told church leaders and politicians at Tuesday's launch in the House of Lords.

The Bishop of Winchester, the Rt. Rev. Michael Scott-Joynt said recent military campaigns by the United Nations to halt the conflict had created fresh waves of refugees, many of whom "have absolutely nothing and are in great need."

He said prayer needed to be directed at "changes of the heart in the highest levels, for the refugees and the dangerous work of NGOs."

The bishop urged Christians to pray especially for church leaders in Congo. "They are just as vulnerable to the violence as anyone else," he said.

Many Congolese fear that another civil war will break out when presidential elections are held later this month.

Marguerite Kongo, a vendor at Bouemba market in the Congolese capital Brazzaville, told the U.N. news agency IRIN that she had put money aside in the event of trouble.

"With our politicians anything can happen; they want power so much that they could unleash war on the country again," she said. "When you hear people saying in the media that no one has a monopoly on violence, you get worried and take action."