“I fight for what I believe in”
She is a remarkable personality: Lucie Bindu is a journalist. Today the native of Congo lives in Oslo. In our interview, the 27-year-old relates the things that have left an impression on her in faith and as a person.
In your homeland there has been political unrest for about two decades. There has been one civil war after another. Did these experiences have an effect on you as a child?
When I was a very small child, I was quite innocent and did not know what was going on the country at all. But things changed. As a five-year-old girl I experienced war and fear for the first time. Our place of residence was under fire and we had to leave. For days, we walked through a forest before we reached a village, where a caravan comprised of many people took us along to Kisangani, in another province. I will spare you the details here.
When did you begin to understand the political circumstances? What sort of influence did this have on your life?
At the age of 15 I became aware of what was going on in my country. I heard about people in villages—but even in cities—who were being killed, and about women and girls being raped. And as I listened to all these stories, I always felt so powerless.
During my studies, I completed a training programme in journalism. When I was given the opportunity to work as a journalist at a local radio station in Goma, I did not hesitate for a moment. I wanted to give a voice to the victims of war, to tell the world their stories.
Later I received a job in international media. I travelled to villages and refugee camps. It was dangerous, but I had the feeling that this was exactly what I should be doing—namely fighting for those who could not fight for themselves.
A duty that is also a heavy personal burden …
I had not expected that these horrific things would become a psychological and even a physical burden for me, but all the stories that I heard, and on which I reported—and all the people whom I met—occupied my mind constantly and would not leave me any peace.
At a certain point in time, I found I wasn’t even able to sleep anymore at night. Many journalists in Congo have been killed in the last ten years. When I was arrested in a village while on assignment, I became even more afraid. The situation became unbearable for me, and so I took advantage of the opportunity to leave the country.
Now I work for a Norwegian NGO that supports victims of rape, and children who have lost their parents in war and other conflicts in the Congo. For me this is a way to continue fighting for justice and a better life for “my people”. I am happy that I can still help those who need it the most, especially the women and children.
You were present in person at the last Nobel Peace Prize ceremony. How did that come about? What does this experience mean to you?
The NGO for which I work has been supporting the work of Congolese Doctor Denis Mukwege—one of the two prize recipients—for many years. So it was that the whole team was invited to take part in the ceremony.
As a journalist and a Congolese national it meant a great deal to me to be there. And in fact, after the Nobel Prize was awarded, all the media were reporting on the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Let’s talk about faith. What is it like to live as a Christian in the Congo?
Everyone has the right to practise their faith in public. And in fact, people are happy to talk about religion. They are very proud of their churches. Almost everyone goes to church on Sunday. Only ten percent of the population are non-Christians. None of the people keep their faith to themselves—but at the same time, each respects the faith of the other.
Tell us a little about your congregation. How was it in the Congo, and how is it now in Oslo?
In my congregation in Goma there were over 800 believers in the divine services. Naturally, I had not expected that it would be the same here in Oslo, but when you are used to a large congregation, the adjustment can be somewhat difficult at first. We are a small congregation with only about 60 members.
The one thing that the two congregations (Goma and Oslo) have in common is the love that we share. No matter where I am, I am surrounded by brothers and sisters. They are my family. And I am so thankful to be part of a church where I can feel so at home, and so loved, in any congregation.
What was one of your most beautiful experiences of faith?
I remember being very depressed about a year ago. One weekend, I was so depressed that I decided not to go to church. But on Sunday morning I heard a voice within me say that I simply had to go to church.
The divine service began, and during the sermon the Priest at the altar said, “I know how disappointed you are in life. I know how you feel. But do you know how much I love you? You are not alone. I am with you the whole way. Everything will turn out well.”
My eyes filled with tears. It was no longer the Priest who was preaching. It was God talking directly to me. And in that moment I knew that everything would turn out well. And it did!
When I look back today, I am thankful for all the stresses and strains I have endured. I have grown in faith and as a person. I now have even more reasons to trust in God. It is a beautiful feeling to be able to rest in God our Father with the certainty that He is the one who is leading us.
Social commitment, People/Personalities, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Norway