The Kairos in the Democratic Republic of Congo: a prophetic voice in a context of socio-political instability.
Kuvuna, Joel Mbongi.
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The main objective of this study is to address challenges faced by the Church in most African countries in raising a prophetic voice. It considers a theological reflection of Walter Brueggemann on social justice. The research intends for its findings to be applied in the framework of a Kairos tradition. The study is motivated by the ever-increasing misery of African people and the confused position of the Church on issues of a socio-political nature. It also attempts to clear up misunderstandings of the concept prophet and public perceptions of the relation between Church and politics. The research framework is based on the prophetic theology as reflected in three main themes: The Kairos tradition that, as is argued by this study, should be applied in the DR Congo, the liberation theology of Gustavo Gutierrez and the liberating model of Jesus advocating the plight of oppressed and voiceless people. The methodology used in this research involves a case study of the Protestant Church in the DR Congo and consists in three methods of data collection, namely an analysis of documents, quantitative and qualitative research, and the theological view on social justice of Walter Brueggemann. The participation criteria used in the combined qualitative and quantitative research methods is the simple random sampling to the population of 83 participants (Church leaders), drawn from 95 communities of the ECC (Eglise du Christ au Congo). The questionnaire contained 23 questions divided into three sections. The research findings confirm that individual engagement in socio-political issues by Church members and communities leads to a dispersion of forces resulting in a weak organisation. A lack of effective communication between communities and the national direction of the ECC (Eglise du Christ au Congo) leads to the failure of actions. Together these negative aspects of the Church’s engagement with political affairs in the DR Congo have made its impact negligible. The results of the research clearly indicate the wish of participants that the Church gets seriously involved in socio-political issues as a prophetic voice. However, this position differs across categories of experience. The research reveals the lack of involvement of the National Direction of the Protestant Church in a prophetic way, while respondents are predominantly of the opinion that socio-political involvement is the mission of the Church, whereby the bible is considered as an effective tool to justify the Church’s participation in the political world. Respondents suggest that, in case of a bad socio-political situation, it is wise to raise one’s voice and pray. The x research results leave little doubt of the need for a Kairos tradition in the DR Congo, involving a publicly critical stance of the Church. At the same time the research found that the strongest risk posed by the Church raising its prophetic voice lies in it being exposed to corruption. For the Church’s engagement with the prophetic theology of social justice, Brueggemann’s model focuses on the common good that can be endangered by an imperialist system, by oppressive social policies, and by the complexities of the state monopoly system. Based on the above findings, the research recommends introducing the Kairos tradition in the DR Congo as a space for reflecting on socio-political and economic responsibility. Every single part of the Church shares in the responsibility for the wellbeing of the people. The success of socio-political engagement depends on what each Church member on all levels of the Church contributes by first changing him- or herself and thereafter focusing on improving his or her environment. The Congolese Kairos proposes a seven-step process. These steps are to encourage self-positive change, to develop sermon material on socio-political matter, to organise in the Church a strong system for sociopolitical involvement, to educate people, to organise prayer meetings, work on an advocacy process and participate in peaceful resistance.