"As the church mobilises in prayer, we ask you to join us in continuing to pray for our country,” a contact wrote to Barnabas in October 2016. The Christian-majority Central African Republic (CAR) continues to be wracked by violence, despite the presence of a UN peacekeeping force, as Seleka Islamist militants have refused to accept the results of elections in February 2016, when Faustin-Archange Touadéra, a Christian, was voted in as the country’s president.
“The horrors taking place are indescribable,” explained our contact, describing Seleka attacks on believers. In September, Seleka descended on the southern town of Kouango, slaughtering men, women and children; over 200 were killed. In the same month, Seleka attacked another town and destroyed a Bible training centre. As a result of the attack, a church in the town was forced to the move the location of its meetings. Churches have been targeted with grenade attacks, with the violence being further fuelled by reprisals by “anti-balaka” armed groups – who misleadingly call themselves Christians, despite their actions being condemned by church leaders.
As well as the threat of Seleka attacks, Christians are also facing violence from ethnic Fulani Muslims and a militia group called the Lord’s Resistance Army, which has taken Christians hostage. The Seleka’s brutal uprising led to the overthrow of the CAR government in 2013, when the Seleka leader Michel Djotodia declared himself president. Since the deployment of a UN peacekeeping force in 2014 there have been periods of calm, but Christian leaders reported increasing violence following the elections in 2016.
Pray for an end to the violence in the CAR and the establishment of a stable government under Faustin-Archange Touadéra. Lift up the many Christians who have been displaced by the violence, as well as those who live in fear of attack; may they know the perfect love of God which drives out all fear. After a period of deep despair in 2015, when many pastors fled their posts, give thanks that efforts to rebuild the church across the CAR are beginning to bear fruit; lift up church leaders, that they will be strengthened in the knowledge that the Lord is the God of the nations (Isaiah 62:6,7).