No longer seeing Central African Republic (CAR) featured in the headlines of world news might cause one to think that the suffering of the people has been eliminated.
But Open Doors recently met with Christians who reminded us that much prayer and support is still needed for CAR. Despite the fact that a peace agreement has been set in place, our brothers and sisters, particularly those in the northeastern part of the country, are still victims of persistent violence.
Lucien* is a pastor who cannot be with his flock because rebels are targeting church leaders. Omer*, a government official, admired pastors for their courage during the crisis and continues to plead for God to protect his community, which is precariously perched on the edge of violence. Daud*, a Christian from a Muslim background, is thankful to have miraculously survived the crisis until now and believes only the Gospel can bring healing to this land.
Healing is needed in many regions where insecurity continues. In areas around Kaga Bandoro, Fulani migrants have abducted hundreds of people to perform hard labour or act as sex slaves. They have also invaded the towns of Mbres, not far from Kaga Bandoro, and Bria, where they chased out the people, killed many Christians and burned down their homes and churches. Pastors have been hunted down and killed.
Additionally, the Christians of the mining town Ndassima face full-fledged slavery under Muslim Fulani lordship. Seleka hold authority over the Christians’ gold and diamond mining by buying at a very low rate. Often they take the minerals by force. No visitors are allowed in the area.
There are many refugee camps where there are shortages of food and shelter. At Kaga Bandoro, the camp chief confirmed the shortages and expressed particular concern for the elderly. The chief of the camp told Open Doors that resources are stretched to the limits as refugees continue to arrive. Camp dwellers told us that they receive food rations every three months, but that the food lasts them only one month. With the rainy season fast approaching, one leader indicated that the need for shelter was dire. Some camp dwellers have tried to build tents with leaves to sleep under.
To Kunze’s* (an Open Doors colleague) surprise, he was received like a family member when he arrived in the area.
“I was so touched by the reception the suffering Church and pastors gave me,” he shares. “They had heard about Open Doors helping the persecuted Church throughout the crisis in CAR, so they were very welcoming. One pastor told me they felt abandoned but that my coming reassured them that they were not alone. It was very hard to hear about their suffering – pastors being killed, the raping, the lack of food and clothing, the destruction and ransacking of churches, the death of church members and the prohibition from worship. When I went around the camp, greeting some and speaking with others, they were all so happy to talk with me. Many of them just rushed over to share their suffering with me.”
Though these believers suffer, they are holding on to the Lord and have not lost hope for deliverance. For Kunze, the simple fact that some, like Lucien, continue to preach Christ and worship Him is very encouraging. “They were so enthusiastic in their singing and dancing, so full of joy and praying to God for peace and deliverance. I saw the determination of these persecuted Christians.”
Central African Republic is ranked #17 on Open Doors’ 2015 World Watch List.
*Real names protected due to security reasons