A well-traveled author, journalist, and professor, Isaac Phiri has written about Africa for Christianity Today since the early 1990s. Over the years, CT has featured dozens of journalists, scholars, and ministry leaders writing about the continent. Most are Westerners. Isaac is African-born and raised in Zambia. He has two graduate degrees from American schools and has taught journalism at Toccoa Falls College in Georgia. Those credentials give him a potent capacity to translate for American Christians the Africa that Africans live in each day.

CT fielded a team of reporters for this issue's cover story on the Democratic Republic of Congo, formerly Zaire. Along with Isaac, we invited Deann Alford, a CT senior news writer, and Grace Mugabe, a staff writer with New Times in Kigali, Rwanda, to uncover the most compelling stories of outreach in Congo. We complemented this reporting with big-picture insights from Jan Egeland, a top UN official, and David Zac Niringiye, an Anglican bishop in Uganda.

Congo's multi-state conflict officially ended in 2003, but the fighting persists. The cost to the Congolese has been staggering, with the conflict-related loss of life estimated at no less than 1,200 per day. Tens of thousands of rebels, soldiers, and UN troops are active inside Congo, making missions work extremely hazardous.

In the Goma region along Lake Kivu, Isaac discovered ordinary Christians undertaking life-saving ministry at extraordinary risk. Arlette Yepdjuo, a World Vision staffer stationed near Goma in Nyabiondo, is one such person. A Cameroonian hydrologist, she works to deliver clean water to villagers. Unsafe drinking water is one reason why many Congolese children die in infancy.

Isaac told me, "This is a woman who has a solid education, whose husband trains pilots in Niger, who has children in universities in the United States—but she lives in Nyabiondo. No electricity. No TV. Nothing.

"It is also a violent world. Anything could happen. She has made friends with local militia, local rulers, and women's groups. She does not have to be here."

While in Goma, Isaac heard a loudspeaker on a heavily armed UN vehicle announce something in the local language. "My interpreter burst into laughter," Isaac said.

The interpreter said, "They say: Today is the last day for everyone to hand over their weapons."

"It was a big joke," Isaac told me. "Almost everyone in this region has a weapon hidden somewhere. Just in case."

In recent months, Isaac, who hopes to launch a magazine by and for African church leaders, has traveled to Zimbabwe, Kenya, Rwanda, and South Africa. "What gives me hope is the meaning behind all human tragedy. I see glimpses of God in people. It is Christ, the hope of glory."

Celebration: The CT hallway has been in a good mood since the 2006 Evangelical Press Association awards were announced. CT won the award of excellence in its category (for the second year in a row) and CT Online also won an award of merit (for the second year in a row). Find all of this year's award-winning articles from CTI publications at www.christianitytoday.com/go/awards.

Next issue: Why we should value children in a culture that increasingly doesn't, and what keeps many Christian pharmacists awake at night.

Related Elsewhere:

Also posted today is:

Cover Story
Hope in the Heart of Darkness | With 3.9 million dead and 40,000 raped, Christians work for renewal and healing in Congo's killing fields.
Born Again and Again | 'Jesus gives us strength,' says a Congolese pastor.
From Rape to Rebuilding | Women persevere in the Congo despite daunting obstacles.
Gospel Work in Time of War | Who says evangelism has to stop during conflict?

Previous Christianity Today coverage of the Congo includes:

Uncivil War | Missionary tells of horrors in strife-torn Congo. (July 25, 2005)
Roadblocks to Mercy | Congolese Christians won't allow a civil war to curtail outreach, church-planting. (Dec. 22, 2000)

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