“Where’s the Peace to Keep?” Local Religious Peacebuilding by Luba Methodists during the War in Congo, 1996–2008
Couture’s project will document and analyze the story of Kamina, Democratic Republic of Congo, a community of Luba Congolese people, largely Methodist but working in an interfaith context, who keep the peace and respond to the war that killed 5.4 million people in DRC. The narrative begins in August 1996 when Bishop Ntambo Nkulu Ntanda was elected and Laurent Desire Kabila initiated the coup that ousted the Mobutu regime in May 1997. Rwanda invaded the DRC in July 1998, and when African international peacebuilding failed, “Africa’s World War” began. The story concludes in 2008. Couture argues that, under Bishop Ntambo’s leadership, Kamina rebuilt its decaying infrastructure in food and water production, housing, medicine, and communications; responded to the crisis of internally displaced people, including widows and orphans; built new forms of mission partnership with the United States and Europe; put the lives of the entire community at risk to host a meeting of Mayi-Mayi warlords, government leaders, military leaders, and civil and religious leaders, to end the militia control of roads in the area; and engaged in interfaith peacebuilding in divided communities in the war zone. Couture’s project demonstrates the faith premises, the practices of Christian ministry, and the use of the church to achieve these ends.