Our church family in the Central African Republic (CAR) are urgently asking for our prayers following the brutal killing of 14 Christians from an Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camp in the city of Bria. Ex-Seleka militia, a group of Islamic extremists, were behind the attack.
The attack happened around 1km away from the camp. One church leader said, “Amongst them were 10 women, two men and two children. We received word that they had been killed, but no one had the courage to immediately go and look for their bodies. It was only this morning that some youths went and retrieved the corpses. They brought them here and laid them in front of the MINUSCA [UN peacekeeping mission in CAR] office in the camp. They have since been buried."
Open Doors workers have been informed that the male victims mostly had gunshot wounds, while the women and children died of slash-wounds. At least one of the women was pregnant. “All those women slaughtered! It is terrible," lamented Gedeon, a Christian who lives in the IDP camp. “The situation is very tense here. Although it is relatively calm right now, there no movement, nothing."
'A DIFFICULT SITUATION'
The PK3 IDP camp hosts around 50,000 people, mostly Christian and followers of traditional religions from Bria and neighbouring areas.
The Christians in Bria are terrorised by at least four factions that were formerly part of the Islamic extremist Seleka group: FPRC, UPC, Ex-Seleka and Seleka Renové. “They don't want to see any Christians here," one church leader explained. “Christians never go to town. If they do, they are threatened, arrested, and asked to pay fines before they are released. There is no way to move to town. They have barricaded all roads, and if you venture out, you are at your own peril. We Christians have nothing else to do, no food to eat, no place to go. We rely only on prayers. Please pray for us!"
“It is a very difficult situation for us here. We pray for God's help for us," another church leader in the camp said.
'I WILL CONTINUE MINISTERING IN MY HUSBAND'S ABSENCE'
Despite the ongoing violence in CAR, many Christians are courageously continuing to minister to their communities.
Veronique's husband, Pastor Tokono, was killed in August last year, when an ex-Seleka group attacked the town of Gambo, in eastern CAR. Veronique and her children had left Gambo a few days before the attack because the situation had become very tense. When an Open Doors worker visited her, Veronique said, "I will continue ministering even in my husband’s absence just like I did while he was alive. I pray that the Almighty God forgives the attackers because they do not know what they are doing. And also that He will save them from that evil way.”
She thanked Open Doors for visiting her. “Your visit really comforted us because you show that other Christians remember our plight here. You supported us and prayed with us, even without you knowing me and my husband.”
Stand with your church family in CAR
CAR is number 35 on the 2018 World Watch List. Christians have been displaced, tortured and killed as fighting between various militant factions continues. The violence that began in 2013 was largely between Seleka, an Islamic extremist group, and anti-Balaka, a group made up of animists and nominal Christians. Christian leaders have condemned the actions of anti-Balaka, meaning that Christians and churches have been attacked by both sides. Although Seleka has mostly been driven from CAR, violent splinter groups remain.
Your support and prayers enable Open Doors to support the church in CAR to provide emotional and physical relief to Christians targeted in the violence, including trauma care, economic empowerment programmes and discipleship training. £30 can provide two days of trauma care training for a church leader or lay leader in Africa, so they can help others begin to recover from their traumatic experiences of persecution.
- That God's Holy Spirit would comfort and heal the families of those killed in the attacks in Bria and Gambo
- For God's peace and protection to cover those who live in IDP camps in CAR
- That God would reveal Himself to those intent on harming Christians, that they would be transformed by His love.