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United Methodists still reeling from massacre

By Judith Yanga
Aug. 22, 2016 | UMNS

A United Methodist youth leader in the city of Beni came home from shopping on Aug. 13 to find members of his family and neighbors massacred in an attack blamed on the rebel Allied Democratic Forces, a group linked to Islamists in Uganda.

The group that attacked Beni, a city in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, reportedly killed 60 people. A United Methodist pastor also reported two of his sisters were killed in the attack and said the number of dead was closer to 100.

The youth leader, whose name is being withheld for his protection, said he had tarried at his usual Saturday morning shopping and arrived home to find his family dead. Neighbors who heard the family being attacked came to help and were also killed.

"I tell you it is the grace of God that I am alive today. I could also be part of the list of the dead," he said.

Beni is 250 kilometers (about 150 miles) from Goma, said United Methodist Bishop Gabriel Unda, episcopal leader for the area in the district of Kivu annual conference in East Congo episcopal area. There are nine United Methodist churches in the area, Unda said.

“This is not the first time Beni has been victim of such slaughter,” he said.

“East Congo is the part of our country that is most affected by repeated wars since 1960, when Congo became independent,” Unda said.

“People are terribly suffering because of wars and are constantly on the move to flee from terrorists, groups of militia and other evildoers and leave all their belongings behind them. Please pray also for the church, country and its leaders,” he said in an email.

Unda reported he has heard from hundreds of United Methodists and the Council of Bishops since United Methodist News Service reported the massacre. He said the region is in desperate need of food, water and blankets.

Yanga is director of communications for the United Methodist East Congo episcopal area. News media contact: (615) 742-5470 or newsdesk@umcom.org.