Kenneth Kovacs goes beyond the walls of his Maryland church to help others. Way beyond.
In the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Kovacs has visited Goma, Bukavu and Mwanza, and it is difficult for him to put into words the poverty and challenges he witnessed during the trips.
“There is no way to describe the need over there,” he said. “The only way to really fathom it is to just go there and see it.”
He explains further on a blog he writes about his work:
“The unspeakable suffering and loss that they have experienced is beyond our capacity to imagine. As a result it’s a place where reality is a little unhinged.”
Kovacs first traveled to DRC and in 2011, he also witnessed work done by the USAID-funded and IMA-led Ushindi Project, which supports survivors and those affected by sexual and gender based violence (SGBV).
“Women have no voice,” Kovacs observed. “The men treat the women as property, so rape and sexual violence is… an emotional and physical tool to get women to submit.”
On the church’s aptly named website “Beyond These Walls,” Kovacs admits he didn’t know much about SGBV before his travels, but he’s grateful for the “blessing” of the knowledge.
“It has caused me to be better informed, better educated around this issue, and better equipped to do something about it there,” he wrote.
Kovacs now works with WeWillSpeakOut.US and contributed to the One In Three sermon guide for faith leaders on educating congregations and communities on SGBV.
He continues to work toward a better future for men, women and children all over the world — both beyond the walls of his church and within.
“It’s so easy for Americans to look inward,” Kovacs said. “It’s important for congregations to be tied to the world.”
Kovacs is a minister in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), presently serving the Catonsville Presbyterian Church, Catonsville, Maryland.He has been a pastor since October 1999 and is a graduate of Rutgers College, Princeton Theological Seminary and the University of St. Andrews, St. Andrews, Scotland (UK). He also studied at Yale Divinity School, Yale University. According to his staff bio on the Catonsville Presbyterian Church website, he enjoys reading, writing, traveling, playing fetch with his cat, Angus, and all things Scottish, including haggis.