Anguish. Heartache. Distress. These are not words we typically associate with church, but for a group of Central African Christians attacked in a church bombing, these feelings come to the surface when they think about their church. “The church was full to capacity that Sunday morning. The pastor was busy greeting the congregation. Suddenly, there was a loud noise as two mortar shells burst through the roof. When it exploded, people were thrown to the ground, and smoke engulfed the entire church. As the smoke dispersed, there was absolute pandamonium. Cries of anguish and distress from the members filled the air. Some ran around in great confusion. We ran to the church next door, and they phoned the Red Cross, who fetched the injured in ambulances.” A few weeks after the Muslim-dominated Seleka rebels of Michel Djotodia overthrew the government of Francois Bozize, the rebels fired three RPG missiles at the Evangelical Church of the Brethren in the CitJean XXIII suburb of Bangui. Two landed on the church building. Another landed in the church yard. The explosions killed 7, and severely injured at least 33 people. Two of those whose lives will never be the same again, are Jeovani Mongounou (9) and Quanizolo Saint Jacob (23). Jeovani Mongounou During that fateful service, Jeovani was sitting in the Sunday school bench with the other children. When the missile exploded, he was thrown to the ground. Jeovani sustained such serious injuries to his lower legs that it led to a double amputation. When Open Doors (OD) visited to see how the family was doing, it was clear that coming to terms with the change in his life has not been easy. “I always pray to God to protect us from Seleka, and supply our needs,” the boy comments. Lydie Daily Kanzo (29), Jeovani’s mother, is out of work, and has five other children between the ages of six weeks and 12 years old to care for. She has no idea how she will manage that. But her more pressing concern is for her family’s emotional recovery. Quanizolo Saint Jacob Quanizolo was busy with his first year legal studies at the University of Bangui when the rebels performed a coup, and dumped the country in total anarchy. The RPG that was fired at his church that Sunday shattered his left leg so badly it needed to be amputated below the knee. Because a large amount of shrapnel settled in his right foot and fractured the shin of the right leg, he was told to refrain from walking for at least three months. OD visited to encourage Quanizolo and his brother and to assess their needs. It was clear to us that the young man was struggling with discouragement as he came to terms with the implications of his injuries. “I’m not angry, and do not nurse any bitter feelings towards those who caused my state. I have forgiven them. The Bible says that those who kill by the sword will die by the sword. I commit them to God. We have to pray and ask God to forgive us. Christians all over the world need to know what is happening in our country. They should pray for us.” As these believers in Central African Republic struggle with what it looks like to live out their faith day by day, we should offer them our sincere and continual prayers. Prayer points
- That He will through His Spirit continue to strengthen Jeovani and Quanizolo. Pray that what has been meant for evil, God will turn to blessing.
- For both of these youngsters as they adapt to life without their limbs. Pray that our God who works miracles will make a way for them to be helped.
- Open Doors is in the process of distributing relief aid to victims. Pray for us as we engage with role players about a greater international response to the crisis, and that stability will be restored soon.