Helped by supporters like you, Gertrude from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is rebuilding her family’s livelihood following an unspeakable tragedy at the hands of Islamic extremists.
"I thank God for how He has provided through brothers and sisters," says Gertrude
It’s a conversation that Gertrude* has replayed countless times in her head. Her husband had called to say that he would meet them at their farm. “The road is not good, do not come,” she told him. “But he insisted.”
Looking back, Gertrude wishes that her husband had listened to her, or that she had tried harder to stop him. If so, she wonders if her husband would still be alive.
To make a living, Gertrude’s husband would often spend time in Beni, a city in North Kivu Province, where he sold produce from their farm, whilst Gertrude and their children stayed at their home in a nearby village.
After the phone conversation, Gertrude’s husband met the family at the farm and the day unfolded as it typically did – including the distant sound of gunfire, which would not stop the family from their work. “My husband said ‘Man dies one day, and he is also born in a day; if it is death, I have no fear in my heart’,” recalls Gertrude.
But as the day drew to a close, armed men from the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF) – a militant group known for targeting Christians – attacked the farm. Gertrude’s husband tried to protect her and their son.
“When he fell, he blocked the boy,” she says. “I crawled into the bush, hoping to climb the mountain but they shot my foot. I slipped. I tried to climb again and got another bullet in my foot.” Going up a hill, Gertrude was shot again and she fell to the ground.
“From where I was, I could see them take my boy and behead my husband,” she remembers. “When I saw them behead him, I told myself we were all dead. I lost the remaining strength I had. When they killed him, I felt dead too. It is as though I had lost my mind. I did not know where I was or where I was going. My first thought was the children. How would I provide for them?”
Gertrude fled to safety where she was picked up by government soldiers, who took her to the farm where just a few hours previously she was happily working with her family. There was no trace of her son – he had been kidnapped.
“Since my husband died, I no longer go to the farm,” says Gertrude, who is responsible for six of her sister’s children (she was killed by the ADF in 2017) as well as her own four children. “My foot hurts if I walk too much. The children’s schooling has stopped because I can no longer pay school fees.”
Gertrude needed to find another way to make a living – and that’s where you came in. Through Open Doors local partners, she has been given the finance to start a small shop. “I thank God for how He has provided through brothers and sisters,” she says. “Please pray that this will glorify Him.”
"I have hope that God is present" GERTRUDE
This passion to honour God reflects how faith has brought solace amidst unspeakable grief. “I have hope that God is present,” she says. “I had many questions, but as He is good, I just consoled myself. I told myself we all are sojourners on this earth. It is God alone who gives me the strength to be able to bear this pain.”
The family has also been upheld by the support of a local church. “When I feel bad, I call them for this or that, they help me in prayer, and they also encourage me to pray, and it helps me to not grow tired,” she says.
Helped by you, Gertrude is persevering, but she continues to need your prayers, particularly given the ever-present threat of ADF militants; attacks by the group in eastern DRC have increased in frequency and severity since 2014.
“When I hear of attacks near to me, I am startled,” she says. “Sometimes I relocate to another area for a few weeks, then I follow closely and if calm returns, I go back to my place. At one point, I couldn’t even sleep. When I hear that people have been killed somewhere, all the details of the attack come rushing back to me. I can’t understand how these people just continue killing.
“Pray that God will protect us as a family,” she says.
The impact you’re having on Gertrude’s life is one of many similar stories across sub-Saharan Africa. Your support is aiding Open Doors local partners across the region as they seek to come alongside our brothers and sisters who are experiencing unimaginable pain because of rising violent attacks by Islamic extremists. This faithful and generous help – including emergency relief, trauma care and livelihood support – is meeting so many varied and urgent needs. Thank you.
*Name changed for security reasons
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