We don’t want to just have a conversation about ourselves, we want to be outward-looking, we want to think about the world and mission and the persecuted church. So we’ll be featuring news from around the continent and the globe. Here’s something to start us off from the Barnabas Fund:
As the conflict in the Central African Republic leaves around half of the population in need of urgent aid, Barnabas Fund is extending its support for Christians displaced by the violence.
We have been working with CAR Bible Society to provide emergency food rations to hundreds of displaced Christians in the capital, Bangui. We are also now supporting the country’s Alliance of Evangelicals, which is distributing food, medicines, clothing and seeds to 3,500 Christians in four different regions.
In addition to the humanitarian crisis created by fighting between the Seleka and anti-balaka militias, the annual “lean season”, when food insecurity is at its highest, is expected to start as early as this month, according to the World Food Programme. The subsequent rainy season is likely further to compound the shortages.
The violence has displaced over one million people and left around two million in need of humanitarian assistance. Thousands have been killed in the fighting, which rages on despite the presence of French and African Union peacekeeping troops.
The conflict has been described as a Muslim versus Christian sectarian war, but church leaders say that it is political, not religious, at its core. They also reject the dubbing of the anti-balaka as “Christian”; it is a self-defence movement that formed in response to months of unrestrained looting, raping and killing by the Seleka, who seized control of Christian majority CAR in March 2013.
Church leaders have been working with their Islamic counterparts in the country to promote peace. Churches are sheltering thousands of Muslims who are vulnerable to attack by the anti-balaka. One of the country’s most senior church leaders has invited the president of the country’s Islamic community to live with him in his church compound.
Churches are devoting the whole of March to prayer for the nation, involving public gatherings of believers in Bangui.
Dr Patrick Sookhdeo, International Director of Barnabas Fund, said:
The Church in CAR is being a strong witness to the peace and love of Christ at a time when the country is beset by violence and hostility. We must uphold our brothers and sisters in prayer and cry out to the Lord for an end to this dreadful conflict that has left so many people endangered and in great need. Please help us to support Christians who are displaced and desperate.
- Give thanks for the Church in CAR’s Christ-like conduct in working for peace and helping those in need. Pray that the Lord will give wisdom and strength to Christian leaders at this difficult time.
- Pray for an end to the fighting and the restoration of harmonious relations in CAR.
- Pray that aid will reach those in need and that there will be enough food to see the beleaguered people of CAR through the lean and rainy seasons.
- Pray in the light of the deep problem of sin and the most terrible threat of eternal spiritual death that the Lord would strengthen his true church to continue preaching the gospel through this terrible time, that eyes would be opened and many brought to real security.