Following another upsurge of violence in his troubled country, Sylvain Ndjendolé, General Secretary of the Bible Society in the Central African Republic (CAR), has sent the following update and prayer request:
“For nearly 25 years, CAR has been embroiled in a political crisis of unprecedented proportions and horrific consequences. Each violent regime change has left thousands of people dead – some caught in the crossfire, and others deliberately slaughtered. Entire villages have been burnt to the ground, forcing their inhabitants to hide in the bush and try to survive. Many have fled across the borders to seek refuge in neighbouring countries.
In material terms, the crisis has led to massive looting. Some cotton factories, for example, have been completely dismantled and carried off to neighbouring countries, as have some of our publicly-owned assets. Public services have been very badly affected. In fact, apart from Bangui, the capital city, and a few provinces, schools and health facilities are no longer in operation.
The most recent crisis, unleashed on September 26, has surpassed all previous crises – not only in the amount of damage caused, but also in the cruelty of the killings. Some of the people taking part in our literacy classes and trauma healing projects have witnessed the violence. Their stories have left us speechless.
Murdered in their home
One told us how a couple had been murdered in their home and their two-year-old thrown into a well. Once the killers had left, people tried to save the child but it was too late. Another told us how three elderly women had been kidnapped and murdered and their bodies thrown into a well.
We are hearing so many stories like this, many of them are taking place in Bangui, where most of the United Nations troops are based.
Rebels tried to take Bangui
We have heard on Radio France Internationale that a column of more than 200 ex-Seleka rebels tried to take Bangui over the weekend, but that they were stopped 180km away by French and UN troops. We do not know how all this will end but it is clear that peace and unity are still far off for our country.
Please join us on our knees in prayer before the Lord for our nation, which is in grave danger. The only weapons that remain are prayer and tears before God, who alone can change the situation according to his will.”
In the midst of the conflict, the Bible Society is running Bible-based trauma healing programs, focusing particularly on widows and orphans who have witnessed appalling violence. It is also running literacy classes, which are helping to focus people on preparing for a better future. Please pray for this important work.