Crisis in the Congo: God's Heart for Global Justice
The Democratic Republic of Congo is currently experiencing the worst global humanitarian crisis since the Holocaust of WWII. 6 million people have died, and 31,000-45,000 continue to die on a monthly basis. Half of all deaths involve children under the age of 5. Many children are recruited as soldiers, and others as young as 12 are being forced to work in mines. Rape is used as a tool of war and sometimes even involves forced incest (For detailed discussion of the Congo Crisis, see: http://congojustice.com/current-crisis/).
Much of the conflict centers upon the control of mineral resources in the eastern part of the country. Hundreds of millions of dollars are made in the mineral trade each year. The ores produce tin, tantalum, tungsten, and gold---and these minerals are used to make cell phones, portable music players, and computers (http://www.raisehopeforcongo.org/content/initiatives/conflict-minerals).
Tens of thousands of people are dying in the Congo so that our cell phones don’t overheat. To make matters worse, because the supply chain for these minerals are unclear, many of us unknowingly financing armed militias when we buy our electronic devices.
Does God care? Yes! More than any of us could imagine! More than 2,000 verses of Scripture speak about God’s burning heart for justice, and in fact, many of the leading voices of the Congo Justice movement are followers of Jesus.
“Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the father, plead the case of the widow.” Isaiah 1: 17
“But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.” Amos 5: 24
Beyond these amazing declarations of God’s heart for justice in general, the Bible also speaks against the injustice and oppression caused by economic globalization and international trade—similar to the kind we find in the Congo.
The book of Revelation speaks words of harsh economic judgment against (according to one interpretation) Rome. Picture Rome in its heyday— Russell Crowe in the Gladiator, wealth, pomp, and circumstance—supported by brutal imperialism and financed by global economic trade with the many nations of the Roman Empire. Speaking in judgment against this Rome, the Bible says:
“Woe! Woe, O great city,
O Babylon [code word for Rome], city of power!
In one hour your doom has come!
The merchants of the earth will weep and mourn over her because no one buys their cargoes any more—cargoes of gold, silver, precious stones and pearls; fine linen, purple, silk and scarlet cloth [Gucci and Armani clothing made in sweatshops]; every sort of citron wood, and articles of every kind made of ivory, costly wood, bronze, iron and marble; cargoes of cinnamon and spice of incense, myrrh and frankincense [cocaine harvested in South America and transported through Mexico], of wine and olive oil, of fine flour and wheat; cattle and sheep; horses and carriages [Ferraris, Beemers and Bentleys]; [iPhones and iPads] and bodies and souls of men [30 million slaves in the world today]…
“…The fruit you longed for is gone from you. All your riches and splendor have vanished, never to be recovered.’ The merchants who sold these things and gained their wealth from her will stand far off, terrified at her torment…” Revelation 18: 10-13, 14-15.
“The kings of the earth committed adultery with her [Rome], and the merchants of the earth [international businessmen] grew rich from her excessive luxuries.” Revelation 18: 3
Strong words! Rome was the center of a global economic empire which was held together by military might, and characterized by material excess and wealth. In its economic depravity, Rome also brought down the rest of the world.
My main point is that God was deeply angered by the global economic empire of Rome which promoted excessive luxury and the exploitation of many people (“the bodies and souls of men”).
In a similar way, the civil war and injustice of the Congo is being fueled by the excesses of global capitalism in the present day. We live in a globalized economy where all nations are connected. Some nations provide the cheap labor, others the natural resources, and still others, the mass consumption. Some a mix of all three. As in Roman times, lots and lots of injustice and exploitation swirls around our global economic system—indeed drives the system. The sectarian violence in the Congo is one horrible, terrifying example.
Millions have died for the minerals which fuel our endless obsession with the latest and cheapest (and sometimes not so cheap) technology/electronics. Billions of dollars are made each year in the tech industry while thousands of Congolese die each month, and yet the world is doing nothing. To be sure, I’m implicated in all of this, too.
Beyond the Congo, millions more are also being exploited as cheap labor to harvest the natural resources, and build the consumer goods, which fuel other aspects of our global economy. That’s a larger issue for another time. Another looming question: Who is “Babylon” today?
Are you moved by the injustice of the Congo? Pray for the injustice of the Congo and get involved with our friends from Congo Justice: http://congojustice.com/
You can also join us for our next Jesus for Revolutionaries event on July 12, 4-7 p.m. in Los Angeles. Our topic will be: CONGO JUSTICE. http://www.jesusforrevolutionaries.org/gather/upcoming-events/
Thankful that Jesus is a God of global justice,