KINSHASA, Democratic Republic of Congo -- She's not well known in the West, but she's a rising star in Africa. Marie Olive Kabila is one of the youngest First Ladies on the continent. Her husband, President Jospeh Kabila, runs the Democratic Republic of Congo. Mrs. Kabila is a strong Christian. She's using her belief in God to bring spiritual change to her country.
A Google search of her name brings up very little personal details. However, on the streets of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Marie Olive Kabila is a rock star of sorts. When she's out in public, which is very rare, the crowds just can't get enough of her.
She rarely does media interviews or speaks publicly.
Her participation in a recent Christian event drew national attention and came as a surprise to many in her country.
"People of God, this is a very special day for me," declared a confident Mrs. Kabila from the pulpit.
A Call to Prayer & Fasting
In the small church on the east side of the capital city of Kinshasa, hundreds of people gathered recently as Mrs. Kabila declared three days of nationwide prayer and fasting.
"I am here to tell you that I will never be ashamed of my Lord's name," said Kabila. "We need Him desperately to heal our country."
The Democratic Republic of Congo or DRC is what some would say cursed by its natural resources. It has everything -- diamonds, copper, gold, cobalt, zinc, the list goes on. However, for all its riches, the DRC is a mess -- politically, economically, socially and according to Mrs. Kabila, spiritually dying.
"Dear Father, our people are suffering we need you Lord," Kabila said, trying to hold back the tears.
A Hurting Nation
According to the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, more than 5 million people have died in the country since 1998 from famine, violence and disease.
Eastern Congo, home to the majority of the country's wealth, is also ground zero of the worst war on the continent at the moment. Despite a peace agreement, government troops are still fighting to ward off rebel groups from taking control of the minerals. Hundreds of thousands of people have been displaced, and tens of thousands of women have been raped, tortured and mutilated.
"We have all the mineral wealth in the world. We are like the Promised Land, but we are flowing with death and destruction," said a lady participating in the prayer and fasting campaign.
With the blessing of her husband, Mrs. Kabila launched a prayer campaign placing billboards in all the major cities. She took to the airwaves, pleading for her countrymen to join her. And the response was overwhelming.
For three days, Congolese around the country gathered in their churches.
"The First Lady is setting the example and calling us to pray for each other," said a Congolese woman.
History in The Making
For someone who is shy, reserved and often shuns the public spotlight, it was the image of their First Lady raising her hands and crying out to God that touched so many people.
"The First Lady is a strong person of faith," said Theodore Mugalu, who serves as the presidential couple's spiritual advisor. "She knows that it is only through prayer that we can face the goliaths of our culture. That's why these days are so important."
Three days after launching the prayer and fasting campaign at a packed soccer stadium, tens of thousands of people gathered to worship and pray. Several of the country's top Christian artists were on hand to perform.
It was a significant moment, because in the political history of the Democratic Republic of Congo, no sitting head of state has ever called for days of prayer and fasting.
"I want you to know that the president is supporting us today even though he is not here," Kabila announced from the platform.
'Walls of Jericho Are Falling'
Even though the large outdoor service marked the end of the three days of prayer and fasting, Mrs. Kabila urged her countrymen not to stop, but to keep praying.
"This is just the beginning," the First Lady said. "We want to be set free from the devil and the evil spirits that ran to and fro our nation. I believe the walls of Jericho are falling. God is going to set our nation free."
Once again, to the surprise of so many, the First Lady, accompanied by a famous Congolese Christian singer, ended the prayer campaign by singing -- asking for the Spirit of God to fall upon her nation.
Originally aired on September 3, 2010.