The valley is in Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo.
The shadow is the long shadow of war. War immediate and present.
I have rarely been present at those moments that are so often memorialized in movies. The birth of a long awaited child. The death of a close friend. The sharing of a long held secret. And war. However, his morning, I was ushered into a front row seat to war through an email.
I woke to my “tri-tone” text going off on my phone. Once is normal, but nine minutes later I had 14 notices. I knew something was happening, and I needed to steal my heart and spine.
I prayed first. Then I read a hurried email from my dear friend Charles. He told us that there were soldiers Goma, and one could hear bombs and firefight. He said that the M23 boasted that “They would sleep in Goma tonight”. He asked us to pray for protection for World Relief staff and all the vulnerable ones they serve.
This happened only 8 hours ago, but my the tears and twitter feeds have made it feel like weeks. I checked my email every 15 minutes, minimum. In between I prayed and asked many others to pray. And many, many, many did pray. Thank God.
A few minutes ago, I received this from Charles Names have been removed and rearranged to protect, but outside of that, it is real. War is happening now, and this is the front row. This is a real email from a real man in a real and violent place.
Dear Friends and Colleagues,
I have just talked with World Relief staff and with a few other Goma friends. There is some random shooting inside Goma town itself, the conflict is at a standstill with the M23 backed up at the top of the hill before the northern gates of Goma negotiating with the MONUSCO who have thrown up a barricade saying ‘you shall advance no further’. Negotiations are underway and it is said that delegations of ministers from Kinshasa and the Francophone group are winging their way to Bukavu as we speak and then we assume thence to Goma in the morning.
There are a few vehicles on the streets but everything is very quiet tonight. Kapalata has made the rounds to the houses of every staff member to make certain that they are OK and have enough provisions, etc. The office has been closed tomorrow as we continue to assess the situation.
Your continued prayers are essential as everyone walks through this shadow in this particular valley and as we wait for what the late night and early morning will bring.
God will bring us through this terrible time, we are certain of that.
World Relief Country Director
The front row is a place of responsibility We are here, they are there. The staff of World Relief Congo are strong and determined people.
They will rise. And they will raise others as they stand. There is hope; it has names and faces and heartbeats. What despair I felt this morning has become blessed gratefulness for real, courageous people who love and give themselves freely in wartime and in peace. The are there, in Goma right now. Thank God.
A brilliant friend responded to one of my posts today with a question… “What do we do?”