The below is from ‘Pierre’, who has asked me to ask you to get involved. It’s incredibly humbling to read – what he and his family have gone through, the love and commitment he has for his nation and for Muslims, his unshakeable trust in the Lord – all are profoundly challenging. Day after day he sends me updates of arbitrary lynchings, rapes, and wanton destruction. The scale of this crisis is horrific. Please don’t delete or skim read – these are our brothers and sisters going through one hell of a time. If you want to respond and help him help others, click here (and put ‘for Pierre and co’). Please also share/forward this to others to increase the prayer and financial support. Some of these pictures aren’t pleasant, but be assured they are on the more sanitised end of the spectrum. Thanks for caring.
2 Cor 2 :15-16 ‘’For we are to God the aroma of Christ among those who are being saved and those who are perishing. To the one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life. And who is equal to such a task?’’
Beloved in the Lord,
For nearly a year now, we have been compelled by circumstances to adapt the form of the bulletins and newsletters that we send out. Certain ones of you are regularly receiving news of events in our country as they happen, with corresponding subjects for prayer. As time goes on, we are increasingly realising that things may never again be the same for us. May what is happening in the CAR serve as a lesson to those surrounding countries that think they are secure.
When I returned home many years ago, after coming to the Lord while in a communist country, I encouraged the broadcasting of documentaries on the plight of persecuted Christians; but theology students here said it was all pure capitalist propaganda. Some time ago, I was helping to try to alert and educate the body of Christ concerning the rise of Islam, but religious leaders and Christians said it could never happen here. What seemed like a utopia yesterday has become reality today. The church in the CAR is poorly prepared, very poorly prepared to face persecution, and now it is paying a heavy price for its earlier lack of concern.
We give thanks for all the spiritual support that we as a church have received. As David said to Goliath : ‘’All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s’’ (1 Sam 17 :47). Please continue to pray for us.
God bless you.
FAMILY : Certain separations are inevitable sometimes. Any separation, even if a salutary one, is still painful. Our family has separated for a time. My wife and children have gone to West Africa, while I am staying behind here. Their situation had become untenable, with their health giving cause for concern and the effects of trauma becoming ever more marked.
My daughter Arielle was born in 1994, two years before the army mutinies that disrupted the ethnico-political equilibrium of the country. Since our neighbourhood was situated at the epicentre of the combat zones and our house was on the frontline, we were not spared. Our home was destroyed, and we were among the displaced people, refugees in our own country. From that day to this, Arielle has not been able to bear the sound of jet aircraft roaring overhead.
My son Caleb was born two years before the coup d’état of May 2001 which fractured relations between the north and south of the country, when people were shot down like dogs in the streets on account of their ethnic background. While fleeing to our relatives in the Boye Rabe district with Caleb on her back, my wife was assaulted, while he received a blow to the head. After that, Caleb could no longer bear the sight of a man in combat gear; and last year he even decided not to complete his final term of the school year, following repeated armed skirmishes at his school.
We thought that in time things would improve; but at various times the children displayed abnormal kinds of behaviour and reactions that were troubling, psychologically. Signs of trauma kept resurfacing that had to be managed. The arrival of the Seleka on the scene only exacerbated the situation, but we sought to allay it by love, prayer, and words of counsel and comfort. December last year was a very difficult time. Although the children were able to take refuge in Bimbo, they still could not cope any longer, and kept asking me if they were going to be able to leave the country at last.
Odile’s state of health is very delicate and for some years, in spite of treatment, there have only ever been short intervals of improvement in her condition. Lately, we have gone from one specialist to another : neurologists, cardiologists, psychologists. She was constantly stressed and sometimes near to depression. She is a very strong woman, but kept being handicapped by the state of her nervous system. On occasion, the limbs on her right side did not function properly. I was with her a few days ago when she nearly collapsed in the street.
Thank God, they have finally left the country, because of their health and also for the children’s studies, as the schools have not been functioning since November 2013. For myself, I cannot leave now, due to the role I have to play and the responsibilities that have fallen to me. It is yet another weight on my shoulders; along with the costs of supporting my family which have increased tenfold, I have the position of leadership within the body of Christ and the burden of ministry. Please pray for them as they settle into a new life in Burkina Faso.
MINISTRY : For nearly a year now, the ministry has no longer functioned according to schedule. Nevertheless, God in his sovereignty has continued to save souls. While the work among the Pygmies has been relatively disrupted by the incursions of the Seleka into our different locations – whether by the river or in the depths of the forest – both our missionaries and the Pygmies have been able to adapt to the changes. Various programmes had originally been planned to be held at intervals throughout 2013, marking the 20th anniversary of the start of our mission movement Nations en Marche. Conferences, seminars, consultations … everything has been postponed indefinitely. The rise of the Seleka followed by that of the anti-Balaka has constituted a major obstacle and created a situation of chronic insecurity, preventing us from getting out to visit our brothers in the field.
The work among our converts from the other faith kept going until the last quarter of 2013. Unfortunately, the arrival of the anti-Balaka in Bangui undermined everything. Almost all Muslims have been driven from the capital, and the converts have also suffered from the situation. We are sheltering some of them, and have rented a house elsewhere to hide some of the (as yet unconverted) Muslims who are in danger. This week we lost two converts, who died in the vehicle in which they were supposed to be travelling to Chad, after a grenade was thrown into it. (Four altogether died on the spot, the two men and two women as well). So Habib and Abdel Kader are now with the Lord. It is really sad, what is going on here. The devil is making the work among Muslims impossible. But we remain confident in the Lord, who wants all men to be saved and come to a knowledge of Him.
Sister Nathalie, who cares for the orphaned children, has been in Chad for some months for surgery. The children and the families they are staying with are often moving about, and the meetings with them can no longer be held regularly; nevertheless we continue to follow them up and assist them. We enrolled some of them in school for the new academic year; unfortunately, as mentioned earlier, the schools are still not running. Pray for the children to persevere in faith.
NATION : Since December 5, when the anti-Balaka first launched their attacks on the capital, things have not been the same, and we do not know if they are likely to work out for the better in the near future. Some tens of sites for internal refugees have been set up in Bangui alone, most of them in church buildings; even our Mission Training Polytechnic is serving to house displaced people. Many houses in many parts of town have been destroyed, not to speak of the numbers of people killed, which are now in the thousands. The frustration felt by the civilian population in the face of nearly a year of Seleka atrocities that continue to go unpunished, has boiled over into an uncontrolled rage in the inhabitants of Bangui. From thirsting for vengeance, they are now drunk on it. There are now parts of town where you are either allowed in or not, depending on your religious affiliation. Most foreigners living in the country have got out, and Muslims are continuing to leave for Chad.
The provinces remain cut off from the capital, and the violent actions against the civilian population continue. The humanitarian aid that is there is insufficient, and the lack of health care and sanitation appalling. A food crisis is looming, and the military intervention to date has still not arrested the cycle of violence in the country. The towns in the centre and the north are still controlled by the Seleka, who are continually threatening to partition the country. The approaching start of the rainy season does not bode well either.
A new interim government has been set up but the challenges to be faced are enormous, with no lack of obstacles to progress. The state apparatus has all but disappeared for some time now; the schools remain closed and the army has not yet resumed its functions. Difficult times are upon the nation, and it is essential that a dialogue is started.
The one thing that the Christian world can do to help the CAR is mobilise Christian entrepreneurs to come and train Central African Christians in business, also to invest in the country. Economic growth recently dropped from +3% to -14%. This nation which is blessed with all kinds of natural resources needs people with God’s heart, to lead it to its rightful destiny in Him. Please pray for a renewal of our country.
Please pray for :
– Sincere repentance for the bloodshed in the CAR, and that the church fully plays its role within this society in crisis.
– Spiritual revival in the country, bringing a season of refreshing. Many churches have been closed for what seems forever now.
– Deep healing of hearts battered and bruised by the loss of loved ones, and of homes and belongings.
– Psychological care and treatment of children and adolescents who, in reaction to what is going on now, are demonstrating behavioral after-effects from past decades of violence.
– Wisdom for the new authorities to guide this period of transition to the point of being able to hold elections that are credible and transparent.
God bless you.
Again, please circulate, and do donate to help him help others, by clicking here. Thanks.