Students Lead Community in Creation Care

Environmental awareness and creation care are new topics for the general population in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), in spite of the fact that DRC is one of the world’s most naturally-resource rich countries in the world.    The following article, written by students from Université Chrétienne Bilingue du Congo/Christian Bilingual University of Congo (UCBC), highlights some recent creation care activities in the surrounding communities.  DRC is a nation wearied by war, severe poverty, governmental ineptitude, and endemic corruption.  It is in this context that the activities described in the report reveal something of the character of UCBC–an institution whose vision is to “raise up indigenous, Christian leaders to transform their communities and the nation of DRC.”  Read more at the Congo Initiative website.

~Kate Johnson Metcalf, Service-Learning Coordinator UCBC


Creation Care and the Common Good

written by: Adeito Masika Tahirana, Annie Mboligihe, Baraka Kambale Alex, Nadine Kavira Vitya, and Patrick Masomeko Mikajo.

In the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the majority of the population is rural and lives dependent on the forest and subsistence farming. DRC’s Congo Basin rainforest is sometimes referred to as the  “second lung of the earth” because of its size, second only to the Amazon basin. However, through the growing lumber industry, people who live in this vast rainforest area often seek to supplement their livelihood by clearing forest trees to sell timber and produce charcoal for cooking. As the population grows rapidly, this activity has direct impacts on climate and the health of the land as the rainforest shrinks to make way for farmland and the lumber industry.

We see climate change played out clearly in DRC. Here in Beni, one of three cities of North-Kivu province, we are constantly aware of the effects of climate change, especially in the disruption of seasonal changes. During the last ten years in Beni, people have found themselves unable to predict seasons and weather patterns. Previously, the dry seasons in Beni lasted from January to March and from August to September. Farmers and planted their crops during these months, when they could be sure there would be no torrential rains to wash away seeds and young plants with underdeveloped root structures. The other months were rainy seasons, when those crops grew and were harvested. However, we now often have heavy rains usually associated with rainy seasons during the usually dry seasons and have recently had frequent bouts of drought in the wetter months of April, May and October.

Spring 2013 class

Spring 2013 class: Creation Care and the Common Good

Because of these changes, some Congolese citizens are beginning to understand the real impacts of climate change on our immediate environment and are seeking to do things differently. We, as students of the Creation Care and the Common Good class offered at UCBC, recognize that we too must be involved, because environmental misuse affects us all.

On Wednesday, June 19th, 2013 a group of students and faculty joined in planting trees on the campus of the Christian Bilingual University of Congo/Université Chrétienne Bilingue du Congo (UCBC). Students also went downtown to plant trees there. The main purpose of these plantings was to open an opportunity for discussion with passersby about deforestation, climate change, and the effects on the environment here in Beni. Many people in town showed their appreciation for what we were doing. Some shared with us personal stories and observations on the environment and changing seasonal patterns and asked  us questions about how they can also be involved in caring for creation and using land responsibly.

UCBC's Academic Dean, Honoré Kwany, prepares for planting

UCBC’s Academic Dean, Honoré Kwany, prepares for planting

In addition to the tree planting, the students of the Creation Care and the Common Good class were involved in other related activities. Students were divided in different groups and each one had an environmental theme to develop or to explore. One of the groups developed and recorded a broadcast for our university’s radio station, Radio Tele Bilingue (RTB).  They focused on three topics: the importance of forests in environmental health, the negative impact of plastic bags on the environment and ideas for reducing plastic bag use, and the importance of protecting waterways from pollution by avoiding burning farmland near the banks of streams and rivers.

Broadcasters at RTB

Radio broadcasters at RTB

Another group met with the grounds crew of the UCBC’s campus after having observed slash-and-burn activity taking place along UCBC’s own small stream. Because the stream serves as a primary water source for the residential community surrounding UCBC, it is particularly important that this waterway be carefully maintained. The group worked with the grounds crew to help them understand why and how to protect the stream here on campus by discussing riparian buffers and encouraging them to help local farmers find better, healthier places to plant their crops.

Through the Creation Care and the Common Good class and its related activities, we have come to understood how important the environment is to our welfare and how we must all be responsible to care for it. Our work will not end here, but will continue through us, future classes, and the people in the community with whom we have worked. We desire that everyone in our community will begin to understand their personal obligation to care for this creation with which God has blessed us. 


Creation Care and Common Good Authors

Creation Care and Common Good Authors

This project allowed the students to practice their English language skills, as well as reach an audience outside of their university community.  As the body of Christ, believers everywhere are connected to one another in a way that even the Internet cannot rival.  In this spirit of unity, the students have shared three prayer requests.

Please pray:

  • for a return to peace in eastern Congo. There has been unrest and conflict for many years, and Congolese long for a chance to enjoy peace and be able to focus on other parts of life like family, community, development, and church.
  • for the graduating UCBC students as this academic year draws to a close, that they would have direction for this next step in their lives and that doors to opportunities would open.
  • for UCBC, that the institution would continue to grow and be a positive, holistic presence in Beni and throughout eastern Congo.

Let us know you’re praying!  Comment below.