Way back in early 2009, we were working in the Congo along with other Wycliffe colleagues. A civil war was ending which had caused all missionaries to flee. We were slowly trickling back into the country. In order to move back safely, we needed to develop a contingency plan. Contingency planning is a well-defined process for identifying and ranking the dangers in a specific environment, finding ways to mitigate them and then making plans for each important danger in case it happens.
We decided to do the planning together with the staff of a Christian University, all Congolese. That worked out well because they foresaw things we didn’t. The first part of exercise involved making a list of disruptive events that might happen. We were all together in a room and each person was calling out disruptive events as they thought of them. One of the Congolese offered “a riot by the police or military”. It stopped me in my tracks. One of my Wycliffe colleagues questioned the item. All of the Congolese firmly defended it being on the list. So on the list it went.
Once we had listed all the disruptive events, we proceeded to estimate the likelihood that each would occur at least once in the coming five years. The Congolese all agreed that there was a 100 percent chance that the police or military would riot in the coming five years. It was less than two years afterwards that there was a riot by the military in the very town where we held the planning.
Working with Congolese clued us in to an event we would not have anticipated. I thought of this recently when I saw a newspaper article about police and military fighting each other in the streets of Haiti. Living in a country where the forces of order are governed by law is actually not that common in this world. Seeing the police or military riot was so far from my experience that I would have missed it completely were it not for the Congolese helping us with contingency planning.
I will be in the Town of Bunia Monday – Friday, February 23-27. I will leave our place in Nairobi at 5 AM on Monday morning and be in Bunia about noon. The purpose of the trip is contingency planning. It is a well-defined process for identifying and ranking the dangers in a specific environment, finding ways to mitigate them and then making plans for each danger in case it happens. The dangers range from acute sickness or accident to armed robbery to civil war. We will be doing a part of the process with Congolese who know their environment better than we do.
This exercise sets the stage for our placing more and more people in the Congo including Dayle and I and moving our office entirely into Congo. Pray that we will have wisdom, insight and a process in which our relationships and words please the Lord.
I hope to update this blog every day of the week in the evening Congo time, so in the morning US time.
Contingency planning participants
These are some of the participants at the risk evaluation phase of the contingency planning. We are working with Congolese colleagues and Congolese from churches we work with. They know the situation best and can therefore best help us determine which risks are the most likely.
My room at the Rector’s house
The Rector of the university has me staying at his house across the street form the University. It has simple furnishings. My rooms is simply furnished but it has all that I need, including the most important item – a mosquito net to protect me from Malaria.
Shalom University of Bunia
The Shalom University of Bunia is hosting our contingency planning. It is a Christian university and the one which offers a degree in Bible translation. We helped with the definition of the curriculum for that degree and we find funds to provide scholarships to worthy students.
(This blog originally appeared in a different format. It was updated in March 2012.)