ACC expands into remote areas of Congo

August 07, 2017 by Jonathan Foggin

St. Jacques, Lwiko, a church built for the Congolese Pygmies, is currently without a roof.

The ACC has expanded into one of the most remote areas of Congo, according to a recent report from Bishop Steven Ayule-Milenge.  The Parish of Saint Jacques, Lwiko is  situated in the Collectivity of Itombwe, an area in the equatorial forest near the shores of Lake Tanganyika.

While the area has long been known as a center of biodiversity (it is the home of species such as the Eastern Lowland Gorilla), it has recently been flooded by refugees displaced by fighting in the Second Congo War.  This influx of new populations into the area has given rise to major humanitarian and environmental concerns.

The parish itself is 90% Pygmy, a population that has suffered a long history of persecution.  In 2003 the Bambuti Pygmies were the target of a campaign known as Effacer le Tableau (wiping the slate clean), which several human rights organizations have characterized as an act of genocide.  As recently as 2015, dozens of Pygmies were attacked and killed in the Vumila 1 camp for displaced people. 

Pygmies have not traditionally been a part of the Church in Congo, but Bishop Ayule-Milenge has reached out to them in an effort to spread the good news of Christ.  He reports great poverty, but also great faith.  As of this writing the parish has three chapels with 256 adult members and many children. A school has been started and over 150 children are being taught. 

Parishioners have also begun construction on a church building, but they have had to stop before completing the roof because of a shortage of funds. Bishop Ayule-Milenge estimates that the sheet metal roof that is planned will cost approximately $2500 USD and has asked for assistance from the wider church. 

Anyone who is interested in contributing to this project may do so online by visiting the SPMS section of this website.

For more on this story and others like it, see the upcoming issue of The Trinitarian.