Eastern Congo
Jana Asenbrennerova

Michael J. Sharp visits with Elizabeth Namavu and children in Mubimbi Camp, one of the camps for displaced people in eastern Congo.

Name: Michael J. Sharp

Hometown: Goshen, Ind. (Waterford Mennonite Church)

Assignment: As coordinator for MCC’s work in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, I support the Congolese Protestant Council of Churches and its agencies that work in emergency response and for peace and reconciliation in the region. Their projects respond to the needs of displaced people, support victims of violence and encourage armed groups to demobilize and reintegrate into society.

Typical day: I spend about 10 days a month in the city of Bukavu and the rest of the time somewhere in the eastern provinces of North and South Kivu visiting partners, projects, beneficiaries and areas that have been affected by armed violence. Many of the projects are in response to emergencies, which means we try to be prepared at all times to react quickly as a situation develops. This makes life interesting, but not very predictable.

“Honestly, there’s nowhere I’d rather be right now.”

Joys: Places of intense conflict are also places where creative solutions are born and put to the test. If Jesus’ example is for everyone everywhere, what does that look like in eastern Congo, where war has been the norm for 20 years? I get to work on the front line of Congolese ingenuity and faithfulness in response to violence and hardship.

Challenges: The context and conditions can be difficult to deal with on a daily basis: the lack of infrastructure, the prevalence of violence and being constantly surrounded by intense suffering. How does one stay connected to what is happening and not be consumed and incapacitated by it?​