Below is a letter that is so heavy and convicting to me – so worth reading, unlike the inane things I sometimes allow myself to get sucked in by. It is written by my dear friend ‘Claude’ in the Central African Republic. I lived with him and his family in 1995. What faith! How humbled I feel as I imagine being in his position. There are some similarities in his situation with what I’ve been confronted with, but I’ve not suffered in the same way, and as I get his weekly updates, once in a while I want to share them with you.
So please read, be humbled like me, and pray for him and all the people of the CAR.
“Greetings, beloved, and may the Lord bless you beyond all your expectations.
It was almost a week ago that we took the road heading north over 500 km from Bangui. Our fears concerning the anti-Balaka presence on the Boali road proved justified. One of our vehicles which had gone ahead of us was intercepted, sacks of rice were taken, the people in it were beaten, all the money they had on them was taken, and they were taken out into the bush ready to be executed … The next day I set off with one of the anti-Balaka commanders who, at every check-point they had set up along the way, issued admonitions to the men on guard there. There were about ten of these barriers along a distance of less than 100 km. Unfortunately, after the commander had gone, there was little change, and I understood that our complete trust had to be in the Lord, and not in any human intervention.
Despite mechanical difficulties, I continued on my way to await the team in Boali where, that same day, the person who had robbed our brothers and was about to kill them, was himself killed by African MISCA peace-keeping forces. I could not rejoice at the news, as his soul too was precious in God’s sight, and unfortunately in my broken state I had not been telling these anti-Balaka people about the gospel. I have to admit that it was not easy to accept that kind of treatment and humiliation from them without reacting – but then what would Jesus do in my place, he who, when ill-treated, did not open his mouth? I did warn them, though, not to be fighting against God – at which, they all suddenly withdrew.
The journey on to Bozoum was difficult too on account of the state of the road, taking us 3 hours to go 90 km. It took several return trips between Yaloké and Bozoum to deliver all our supplies. On top of that, the rain decided to show up, complicating the situation by making the dirt road slippery and dangerous. The task was made the more arduous by the fact that, because the phone lines were down, we had not been able to arrange everything in advance of our arrival; however by God’s grace, all went well.
It took us 3 hours on terrible roads to go 90km to Bozoum, which is a town battered and bruised by recent events – servants of the Lord there were killed by the Seleka at the height of the crisis following the coup last year. Some of the Christians came and told me that, during the different crises, they had remembered the last time we were there – I had gone with people from Open Doors to speak on the subjects of persecution and Islam. They acknowledged that God had been preparing them through those teaching sessions. We went to deliver some medications to the hospital. After speaking to the chief consultant there, and as I was praying, he burst into sobs. I understood that the dangers and discomforts that we have been enduring on these journeys to the interior of the country have been well worth it, considering the suffering of the people there.
We continued on our way to Paoua along a road that was in even worse condition; this time it took over 4 hours to cover the 113 km from Bouzom. Paoua is one of the rare towns where the Christian and Muslim communities continue to co-exist peacefully. It was a journey full of risks, as we nearly rolled off into the river while crossing a broken, rotten-timbered bridge. A rear wheel of our vehicle got stuck in a hole, and we ended up suspended over empty space with the river below. But we were really encouraged when the Christians told us that it was the first time anyone had come to visit them and bring help. Words like these reinforce our determination to continue these journeys, bringing further aid to God’s children.”
That was a few days ago, and then Claude just sent this:
“We are setting off again today for the towns of Bambio, Mambéré and Nola, counting on God’s grace and your prayers. To adapt the great words of the Lord Jesus, the flesh is weak but the spirit is willing. Humanly speaking, I have had little rest and am at the end of my strength, but as leader I have to step up and not leave my team to face all the dangers on the road alone. We declare like Samuel ”Eben-Ezer” : thus far the Lord has helped us.
There is always something that patience, said to be the mother of all virtues, has to teach us. I remember when we had to spend a few days in Boali and Yaloké because of mechanical difficulties, and I was wondering why God had allowed these things … What I did not know was that there had been violent clashes in Bozoum, where we were heading, between African MISCA peacekeeping troops, who had killed a young man, and the local population who retaliated by killing a soldier and wounding another. The resulting gunfire was so intense, that the people fled for cover during the following two days. It was on the day we finally arrived there, that calm was restored. God is wiser than men, and everything works together for the good of those who love him.”
Wow! What a puny faith I have! What does the above make you think, how do you respond? Do pass this on to get others lifting them up.