Many have asked us if the Congo is dangerous…and based upon many of the things one reads in news reports in the USA, it is. But we have not seen ANY problems here, or experienced anything that left us feeling in danger of our lives.
Once in a while a group called the Mai Mai come into Lubumbashi (they are a separate tribe in the Congo that want their independence), and trouble ensues, with some getting killed. We have heard about these incidences, and even heard some of the guns going off, but have never actually seen it or been close enough to it to feel afraid.
Recently there were four soldiers killed in downtown Lubumbashi. One soldier killed his senior officer, and then killed several people who attempted to capture and hold him. It caused quite a stir in the downtown area! Emanuel and I were actually driving through town to go shopping for apartment goods just after this incident occurred. We saw the excited crowds (we drove through one large crowd that was greatly agitated), but did not know what had happened until later.
Terri and I have traveled almost the entire mission, have walked around the towns and villages, etc., all without a hint of fear or worry about our own safety.
I relate it to living in the USA. Anyone reading about the city of Chicago recently would be foolish to travel there…right? More people have been killed in the city of Chicago than all of the Congo–yet most people would have no issue traveling to Chicago, but would fear to come to the Congo! Seems to be some kind of disconnect going on here…
The eastern Congo has had a long war with terrible loss of life. But due to the lack of roads, the war has not spread, and the Congo is such a large country that those living in other parts of the country live as though no war was going on. Not unlike the wars going on with the US, we at home hear about the war but have little direct knowledge or impact on our lives. The same is true in the Congo. The war in the east has been terrible, but the other parts of the country have not been effected, and are quite peaceful.
Anyway, not to worry! There are problems and issues in every large city in the world. One just has to be wise and to travel and live in areas that are not dangerous. We lived in Cleveland for three years. There were parts of the city that no one would travel in at night, or with care during the day. Nothing different here in the Congo! One gets to know the areas you can go and the areas to avoid.
So for those thinking of serving here, or other areas of the world that might seem dangerous, know that the Church would never send you somewhere that would put your life in danger. I comes down to a matter of trust and faith, oui?