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Escape from Mount Doom

AFRICAN CHRISTIANS plant churches, flee violence in troubled Congo.
Welcome to Mordor.
Ten miles north of Goma, a city on the eastern edge of the massive Democratic Republic of Congo, is the volcano Nyiragongo — home of the largest lava lake on the planet. At night, the sky glows ominous red.
That’s why Matt Miller equates the region with Mordor — the ashen, forboding home of Mount Doom and the evil Sauron from the “Lord of Rings” books and movies.
The region “has a valid claim at being the most unstable place on the planet, both in terms of security and geological activity,” said Miller, who lives in neighboring Rwanda and works with the Africa Transformation Network.
“Many of the government and military leaders who were involved in starting the Rwandan genocide fled to this area and have formed rebel armies who continue to attack villages and steal mineral wealth from the Congo,” Miller said.
“The North Kivu province, of which Goma is the capital, has the horrible distinction of being the rape capital of the world, as soldiers use this tactic of terror as a weapon in their fighting,” he added.
Miller and Alex Badega, a Rwandan Christian, visited Goma in 2012 to see the volcano. They stayed in the home of Safari and Sarah Akili, church planters in the troubled city.
“Our visit with Safari and his church was a great blessing,” Miller said. “We were able to share with them the principles of obedience-based discipleship and were received warmly.”
As Miller and Badega prepared to return to Rwanda, the Akilis asked to stay in contact with them and to work with the Africa Transformation Network.
A week after the visit, a rebel group began fighting in the region north of Goma. Months later, they captured the city — while Sarah Akili was pregnant with their fourth child. As they fled for the border, “they discovered the bodies of five neighbors who had been killed in the fighting,” Miller said.
In Rwanda, Sarah Akili gave birth to a baby girl. They named her Exodus. The family relocated to Uganda and prays for the day when they can return to Goma.
“In the past six months, Safari has helped plant 14 house churches in Kampala, the capital city of Uganda,” Miller said in a recent report. “Eight people were baptized into Christ just this past Sunday. It is our privilege to be servants of the amazing leaders God is using to initiate a movement of disciples of Jesus in our region.”

Safari and Sarah Akili fled the Congo just before the birth of their daughter, named Exodus. Andrea and Matt Miller, right, helped the couple escape to Rwanda.

Filed under: International

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