This past week a young nephew of Emanuel passed away. He took pictures of the funeral to share with us. Much like the Jews, who are required to bury their dead within 24 hours, the Congolese bury their dead quickly, often the same day. This is more due to the fact that they cannot afford to embalm the dead than any religious custom we have found.
As family members gather around, and hole is dug in the graveyard, by family members. It is required to bury in designated cemeteries (in the cities).
Rather than being placed in a concrete box, as is done in the states, support bars are placed over the hole to support a concrete top.
Metal roofing panels are placed over the supports, and then concrete is installed over the metal panels. All of this is done by family members, as the rest of the family watch.
After the child is buried, final prayers and rites are completed for the dead.
Death is always a tough experience. We are all mortal and both fear and anticipate death for others and ourselves. The only peace afforded is that which comes from a belief that life, in fact, is eternal–that there is life after death. It is the cornerstone of Christian faith, and most religions around the world: the idea that some part of us is eternal and will live on after our death.
We serve in the Congo for the same reason Paul the Apostle served in Asia anciently: to teach Christ and His literal resurrection from the dead. We serve to give hope to those without hope, to bless those seemingly without blessings, and to teach the truth of Eternal Life.
I believe that ALL people inherently know they are eternal. Whether they be Christian, or Muslim, or Buddhist, etc., people believe that some part of themselves will continue to exist after death. Even the greatest scientists of our age have come to the same conclusion: that the substance out of which we are created cannot be destroyed, but will continue to exist (even if it is in another form). Since this knowledge is so universal, why is it such a leap to believe that the part of us that IS us (our mind/spirit) continues to exist after death?
Christ not only believed this truth, he proved this truth. And this truth is what gives us hope in this life, and encourages us to live the best lives we can while here.