Mark & Karen



We serve in Bukavu, Democratic Republic of Congo, working with our local church, LePhare, joining God in the great work He’s already doing here!  The people of DR Congo are desperate for the hope and change that comes from knowing Jesus, and we see God moving through LePhare to bring the kind of change that Congo needs.

As a country, Congo is living in a nightmare. As the BBC wrote, “The scale of loss in DR Congo is impossible to convey in the existing vocabulary of human suffering” (“DR Congo massacre” published 27 March 2018). More people have died in the Congolese conflicts than in any other war since World War II (well over six million and counting), and Congo has become infamously known as “the Rape Capital of the world.” Many parts of the country, including Bukavu, have suffered successive rounds of trauma and terror as rebel or military leaders seek their own interests with little concern for the general population.

It is into this darkness that our church, LePhare is a LIGHT of Truth shining in a society in desperate need of authenticity, grace, and hope. (“Le Phare” is a French term for a device that lights the way, especially to protect one from danger; it’s the word used for “lighthouse” or the “headlight” on a car.) We are involved in supporting LePhare’s women’s ministry, children’s ministry, music ministry, small-group leader training, English-language service, teaching, and other tasks that free up the leaders of LePhare to do more of the important life-changing discipleship work they are doing. We also continue outreach through the friendships we have formed playing ultimate frisbee and are also starting a small group to support and reach expats in Bukavu.

Eastern Congo is, in the language of humanitarian work, a “hardship location”; there’s no consistent water or electricity, the police harass you, and shocking murders are carried out in broad daylight with no one brought to justice. Most expats leave here as soon as they can; Congolese do the same. Though Bukavu has hundreds of churches, their presence has not yet brought about the “fruit” one would hope from them. Despite the fact that over 90% of Congolese people self-identify as “Christian,” the region is drowning in corruption, desperation, and false religion.

We have seen God doing amazing things through LePhare! People are leaving behind the mentalities of tribalism and short-term selfishness to follow Christ’s example of loving their neighbors, sharing with people who cannot repay them, and basing their primary identity on being a “follower of Jesus”. The leaders of LePhare (all Congolese) could be living abroad, but they’ve chosen to return to Bukavu out of love and sacrifice, knowing that life here won’t improve if the best and brightest leaders always leave.  They have invited us to serve the church with our unique gifts to equip and multiply the capacity of the members of this “Biblical Family on Mission”. They also invite us join them in living out a vision of a church that is not defined primarily by race, tribe, or nationality, but instead seeks reconciliation and tries to live as the diverse yet unified body of Christ as described in Ephesians 2. We feel called by God to support, equip, and accompany our local church as God moves through His Body to transform lives.

Thanks so much for your interest in the work God has called us to in Eastern DR Congo!

Facebook at Dawsons in DR Congo
Instagram at karenhartmandawson

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