The following is an email I received from a missionary friend with Iris Ministries in Africa. The email touched my heart and reveals some of the bitter truth of the atrocities that happen in the ‘Heart of Darkness’ i.e. Democratic Republic of the Congo. I wanted to share this with you all and ask you to keep this man and his mission in your prayers and to seriously think about supporting his work to ‘the least of these’…
“The least of these My brethren…The least of these My brethren… The least of these My brethren.
I believe the least of these My brethren is an unborn Pygmy girl in the Efe tribe of the Ituri Forest in the Democratic Republic of Congo. I do not know her name yet. According to my research, she has a one in three chance of surviving to five. She will be pregnant by eight (yes, eight) years old. If she does not die in childbirth (less than a 1 in 16 chance), she may live between 16 and 24 years (average life expectancy). In her life she will be subject to rape, murder and cannibalism from rebel armies; HIV and other diseases, malnutrition, parasites. She will probably grow to only about 4’6”; become a slave or underpaid worker to the surrounding taller people groups; never receive an education; never have an ID (not officially exist); and, never hear the gospel.
Except for the height of this as yet unborn Pygmy girl, can I make a difference? Can I go there and change what would be her life. Yes. I leave on Monday (Feb 14).
Why am I drawn to this particular, as yet unborn and unnamed child in this particular tribe? Because, the Lord has called me to the “LEAST of these My brethren” and “further north” and to go “lower still”. He tells me this over and over and over. It keeps me focused.
I know of no other people so low. According to the Pygmy Fund, ‘The Ituri Forest Efé pygmies occupy less than 1% of the land preserved for African wildlife. Their numbers have been reduced over the past 75 years from 35,000 to about 3,000 individuals. ”. “Pygmies are the most ancient surviving human race”. Over a century ago, there were millions. They are subjected to enslavement and endangered by the destruction of the pristine Congo forest on which their lives depend”. “To this day, there are places where entire pygmy families are naked because they have no clothing”. Jean Francois Mombia said, “Hunting has become almost impossible, because the animals have become rare, having fled the noise of machinery used by the loggers,” and “Pygmy hunters are often forced to walk for a week before finding game, while their families starve.”
John the Baptist said, “Anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none, and anyone who has food should do the same.”
And James said, “Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead”. James 2:15-17
“Jean-Pierre Lola Kisanga, governor of Orientale Province, said “…only two out of 1,000 pygmies had access to education”. Marc Mali, of the Pelican Centre NGO, said, “Girls and women are often raped or used as sexual slaves, and they do not resist for fear of being killed,” Sinafasi Makelo, a representative of Mbuti pygmies, told the UN’s Indigenous People’s Forum that during the Congo Civil War, his people were hunted down and eaten as though they were game animals. In neighboring North Kivu province there has been cannibalism by a group known as Les Effaceurs (“the erasers”) who wanted to clear the land of people to open it up for mineral exploitation. Both sides of the war regarded them as “subhuman” and some say their flesh can confer magical powers. In the Republic of Congo, where Pygmies make up 5 to 10% of the population, many Pygmies live as slaves to Bantu masters.
That is why I want to go to help an unborn Pygmy girl in the Efe tribe of the Ituri Forest in the Democratic Republic of Congo. If you pray and support me, I can do more. Either way, I am leaving on Monday, February 14, 2011.”
(Email firstname.lastname@example.org for information on supporting work amongst the Pygmies in the DRC)