June 21, 2012. Most Americans can’t even imagine the kind of terror, violence and despair that have become a part of daily life for far too many in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). For decades, paramilitary groups led by Joseph Kony have terrorized the Great Lakes region of Africa – and the Congo in particular. Even as they murder the men of the region and abduct its children, the guerilla troops have devastated the women of the region by using rape as a weapon of war. And now a malaria outbreak has brought a new battle to the women and children in the DRC.
But the cries of the Congo have reached the ears of eight young adults here in America including Gordon Brown, a resident of Boone, and Jessica Lee, a student at Appalachian State University. The group will be spending six weeks this summer biking 1,900 miles from Florida to New York as part of an effort to raise awareness of and support for the women of the DRC. The 23-year-old Boone resident and 21-year-old Appalachian State University student, along with six other riders, are part of the second-annual She’s My Sister Bike Tour.
Led by American Bible Society, She’s My Sister is a collaborative effort of organizations from around the globe dedicated to providing Scripture-based trauma healing programs and practical aid to the women of the DRC and the surrounding region. It equips local churches to care for spiritual and emotional wounds caused by decades of brutal conflict, overcoming barriers of pain that separate people from God and one another, and restoring hope for the future.
“The Congo has been called the rape capital of the world,” said Brown. “I committed to spend my summer helping to raise awareness of the terror these women have survived and provide others with a way to help. It is the least I can do. As a student, my worldly opportunities are limited, but the She’s My Sister Bike Tour is a way to tell the rest of the world about the women in the Congo by touring the East Coast on my bike,” said Lee. “I am honored to spread these women’s stories to those I meet.” During their 1,900-mile trek, the Bike Tour will be stopping at churches along the way to spread the message of the need for help and hope among the women of the Congo. Brown, Lee and the group will make a stop in Boone on Thursday, June 21.