A Heartbreaking Experience

July 31, 2015 • Democratic Republic of the Congo
A Heartbreaking Experience

How my internship in the Democratic Republic of the Congo led me to a place of compassion

Gracie Fairfax is a communications intern in the Samaritan’s Purse DRC office.

The hours we spent driving greet me with mountains, lush green trees, and a side of the Democratic Republic of the Congo I hadn’t yet seen. We drove past mud houses lined up along the road. Some were vacant, but others were surprisingly still occupied. I had been told this was a dangerous stretch of road, and we only travel on it during certain hours of the day.

The stories I had heard come to life through the skeleton of a burnt car on the side of the road. Just a week earlier, rebels had attacked this town. Our driver had been traveling this same route that day and turned around as he heard bullets flying up ahead.

A Heartbreaking Experience

People in northern DRC celebrate Samaritan’s Purse rebuilding their church after a rebel group burned it down.

While sitting in our office in the relatively peaceful city of Bunia, it’s easy to forget what goes on just driving distance from our doorstep. While I go to sleep in a guarded house, nearby many fear for their lives every night. Some flee; others seem to accept that they will never know true peace and stability.

It’s easy to want to brush it aside and think that it’s not my problem, to see it as another unfortunate event and thank God I have never had to experience the terror they go through, to put up a wall in my heart to keep it from breaking. But where is the love in that?

It’s moments like these when I realize that this could have been my life. It could be me going to sleep at night in fear—and with a legitimate reason to be afraid. I try to imagine how that would change the way I live. I don’t want to so easily brush it aside.

As Christians, we’re called to care for our brothers and sisters throughout the world, but how often do we get caught up in the little things like the order of fries that were forgotten in our meal or the traffic that is making our commute just a few minutes longer? I’m guilty of it. How often do we forget to pray for those living in conflict or forget that these are not simply stories on the news?

It’s easy for me to get overwhelmed by the magnitude of problems. I don’t think it’s realistic to expect to find quick solutions to such huge problems. It’s true that the issues are incredibly complex, but so is my God.

A Heartbreaking Experience

Doctors at the hospital in Nyankunde, DRC, perform surgery that patients wouldn’t otherwise be able to receive in the country.

That’s when I realize just how small my faith is in the Creator of the universe. If He created the heavens, can’t He answer prayers for peace? It may not happen overnight, but prayer should be more than just a hope that something might someday be better. Prayer should be a firm belief that our God is able to bring change and peace. Our prayers should be more than wishful thinking.

In Philippians 4:6-7, Paul said, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus” (NKJV).

The Bible is filled with stories of the faithfulness of God—but they aren’t just stories. They are real events that happened to real people. If God displayed His faithfulness then, He can display His faithfulness now.

I don’t want my experience here and the things I witness to feel like just another story. I want my time here to change me. I want it to break my heart. I want my heartbreak to lead me to the foot of the cross where I lift up these people in prayer, not out of obligation, but as someone who deeply cares for my brothers and sisters throughout the world and genuinely believes that my God is a God who answers prayer.