Just months after the completion of the foundations of the Baha’i House of Worship in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), striking structural elements that make up the lower portion of the central edifice are coming into view.
The rapid progress being made on the construction of the temple has gone hand in hand with greater action aimed at the material and spiritual progress of society.
“The House of Worship is appearing before our very eyes” says Lavoisier Mutombo Tshiongo, the secretary of the country’s Baha’i National Spiritual Assembly.
He continues: “At the same time, we are seeing an intensification of action inspired by what the temple represents. Everything is increasing, from devotional gatherings, educational efforts, and other initiatives taken by families and youth, such as cleaning rivers and water sources, to formal activities in the areas of food security and agriculture, education, health and empowerment of women.”
Mr. Tshiongo attributes the increasing pace of activity to a growing appreciation of the relationship between worship of God and service to humanity that is being cultivated through conversations about the national House of Worship, which is situated on the outskirts of Kinshasa.
Anis, a youth from the Baha’i community of Lubumbashi, reflects on the relationship between service and worship, stating: “When people visit the House of Worship to pray, even though it is still under construction, they leave having become more clear about the actions they wish to take, because immersing yourself in prayer and meditation creates a sense of spirituality. In those moments, we see what is important in life – to become a source of social good and be of help to our fellow citizens.”
The effects of the emerging House of Worship have been felt not only by area residents who have been able to visit the site, but also by people much further away.
Mr. Tshiongo explains that the National Spiritual Assembly has been stimulating many discussions about the House of Worship – referred to in the Baha’i writings as a Mashriqu’l-Adhkar, meaning “Dawning-place of the Praise of God” – through a series of gatherings across the DRC, conducted in compliance with government safety measures.
Speaking at a recent gathering in Baraka, South Kivu, Chief M’muwa Lwe’ya Aolōélwa II described how Baha’i temples call to mind memories of the lubunga – a space dedicated to prayer and discussion on community matters among village elders.
“The lubunga, which has nearly disappeared from modern life, provides space for village elders to pray to God and ask for guidance as they assist with community matters. Today, we are learning about the Mash̲riqu’l-Adhkar – a center where all men, women, and children can gather as one and connect with their Creator.”
Progress on the construction work is featured in a gallery of images on news.bahai.org.