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Christian Science in the Democratic Republic of Congo: History in the Making

The author traveled to Africa to take part in several Youth Summits and discovered churches alive with promise.

From the March 2009 issue of The Christian Science Journal

THERE I WAS, sitting on a stage in a movie theatre filled with over 600 Christian Scientists. It was two years ago, in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and I had come there as part of a Mother Church delegation visiting churches and college organizations.

We had just watched the documentary The Onward and Upward Chain (produced by The Longyear Museum) about early pioneers of Christian Science in the United States. Although I had watched the film multiple times already, I still found it exciting. It recounted a time when Christian Science was relatively unknown, and the film followed the lives of early pioneers of the movement. In the face of immense opposition, they went out and healed others and started the first churches. Back then, Christian Science was mainly spread by word-of-mouth.

As I sat watching the faces in the audience, it dawned on me that I was surrounded by the pioneers of Christian Science in this area. Many of the people I met were the first Christian Scientists in the region. Most hadn't been born into the religion, but had been introduced to it—usually by a friend or co-worker. They were convinced by the healing they experienced—and were eager to communicate what they already loved. Informal groups and societies sprang up in spite of government opposition and widespread misconceptions, such as Christian Science being a cult, witchcraft, or, more recently, that it is Scientology.

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