How a Child Soldier Met His Maker
“Spiritually he will be okay,”
Democratic Republic of Congo
“We had war here. The young people joined the rebel groups. When the government took control, they came back to society. But they were troublemakers in the society because they are not employed. Also, those who are drug addicted, they do nothing. The government doesn’t care for them. But as a church, if we can do something for them so they experience God’s love. This is how we decided to have carpentry here. They make furniture like tables and beds and so on. And people come to buy. I am happy with that.”
– The Rt. Revd. Dr. Georges Titre Ande, Diocese of Aru, Democratic Republic of Congo
Timothy is learning to be a carpenter at the vocational school in Aru, but his future wasn’t always so clear. Timothy is a former child soldier.
Thanks to a grant from ARDF, the local church was empowered to build carpentry shops and classrooms and buy supplies for students like Timothy. His interest in woodwork and the machines involved initially drew him into the carpentry program.
Timothy and three other graduates were eventually hired to help train the next group of future carpenters. As peace comes to the DRC and rural residents relocate to urban areas, there is an increasing market for furniture. The skills Timothy learned at the vocational school have added valuable practical skills to his life.
So, when ARDF asked Timothy how carpentry training has made his life better, we expected him to say something about having a job, an income, or the ability to get married. Though these are all viable answers, it’s not how Timothy responded.
“Spiritually he will be okay,” the translator explained. “That is the thing he has seen. Because being here, it is under the church. And all the behaviors that he used to have before will be changed spiritually. He was just baptized.”
In Aru, they continue to train many more young men to become carpenters who follow the ultimate carpenter: Jesus.
ARDF invests in projects that are holistic and produce lifelong positive change. Based on the success of this project, ARDF is supporting similar programs in other areas of the DRC, where child soldiers returning to society face huge obstacles.