Gendered Violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo
Scripture for December 1: Isaiah 2: 1-5, Psalm 122, Matthew 24: 36-44
As we gather in our communities to begin our journey into Advent, we know there are many injustices we hold in our hearts. The constant rush of holiday shopping and partying always begins too soon and can quickly overwhelm us. I hope that you are finding opportunities in your church communities and in your personal lives to challenge the distractions of the holiday season with opportunities to pray and reflect on the coming of Jesus.
On this week in particular, KAIROS offers us reflections based on our experiences with our Global partner Héritiers de la Justice in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. When we listen to the experiences of women living in the DRC, we hear the painful reality of war. We see how patterns of domination and exploitation are taught and manifest in the treatment of women and resource extractions practices which fuel conflict. In this past year alone, news reports of events such as the Steubenville rape case, uprisings in India in response to widespread gender-based violence, and many more, show us that the violation of women’s bodies is a global pandemic. In the face of this knowledge I turn to myself and ask, God, what should I do? As a piece of your divine revelation, where should my heart be? I ask myself: “What are the ways in which my actions reinforce these patterns of domination and exploitation in our everyday lives? What actions do we need to be accountable to in order to walk the same path as Jesus?”
True wisdom lies in Isaiah’s prophecy that nations shall learn war no more. War is taught. Domination and exploitation are taught. This means it can be unlearned. And just as Isaiah’s prophecy rang true, God has given us the Good News, a teacher to guide us; through Jesus we can learn to put down our swords. What small step can you take towards unlearning war this Advent?
Perhaps Psalm 122 can offer us direction in one way to unlearn war by praying for peace within ourselves. This Advent season, let us we pray to find inner peace so that we may carry it out into the world in all the work that we do. May we find ways to name how patterns of domination and exploitation play out in our hearts and minds. What if we learned to till the fertile soils of our imagination instead of meeting our fears with violent thoughts?
Our readings from Matthew this week remind us of the need to continuously be open the presence of God in our midst. In order to be ready for the arrival of Jesus we need to be aware and paying attention. Are we currently paying attention to the ways gender-based violence hurts communities in the DRC? Do we know if the minerals in our electronics and jewellery were mined in conditions that denied the humanity of the workers?
Creator, be with us this Advent as we ask for guidance, love, and support in our journeys to learn how to walk with Jesus. Turn our mental swords into ploughshares so that we may find inner peace that can be shared with the world.
Michiko is a Masters of Divinity student at Emmanuel College and a candidate for ministry in the United Church of Canada. Michiko is completing a contextual education placement at KAIROS this academic year.
More resources on this issue can be found in Growing Justice, the KAIROS Advent resource for Year C, which you can order from our online store.