“It was a very unexpected experience for me in the presence of my 16 year old son,” says Pastor Gerald Bomana of an Evangelical church in Bangui. “About 40 rebels invaded the offices of the ministry I run. One of them stood in front of me pointing his gun at me. To my greatest surprise, I recognized one of my neighbors among them. He was wearing a rebel uniform. He was probably the one directing them to my office.” Rebels of the SELEKA coalition took power in the Central African Republic after capturing the capital Bangui on Sunday, April 24. Since then, armed bandits have been looting, holding to ransom and harassing the population. “Because our organization does evangelism among local tribes and care for abandoned children, the rebels thought we have much money,” said the pastor. “We have several stations in the interior. They ordered me to hand them five million CFA francs (about USD 11,000).” When Pastor Bomana told them that he did not have the money, the rebels replied, “Then you will give us three million CFA francs. And these premises will be one of our headquarters. You will also see to it that our troops are fed. We are giving you a few days to gather the money and then we will be back.” While a group was speaking to Pastor Bomana, other rebel group members plundered the different rooms of the building. They loaded all they wanted on the pick-ups with which they came. They plundered computers, printers, chairs, various other appliances and the ten motorbikes used for ministry related travel. “One of the rebels approached my son. He slowly put his hand in his trouser pocket. He took out my son’s purse, opened it up and removed the 3,000 CFA francs it contained. Then he put it in his own pocket. [Knowing well what the rebels are capable of], my son was terrified.” But this incident was not the last encounter Pastor Bomana had with the rebels. A day later, the rebels came again this time to his house. “The rebels came to my house to hear if I had prepared the money for them. My wife, who was at home, fainted when she saw them. When they heard that I had not prepared the money, they left, promising to come back later.” Pastor Bomana realized his family was in grave danger. A friend advised him to plead for protection from Seleka officers occupying the Ledger Hotel. He immediately followed the advice. When he had told the colonel what had happened, the man instructed Pastor Bomana to park the ministry vehicles at the hotel for safe keeping. “We loaded all the remaining belongings in the cars and brought them to the hotel. A few days later I sent one of my co-workers to check if the cars were really in safekeeping. He found out that the cars were no longer there. When he asked the colonel about it, he started shouting at the worker and ordered him to never talk to him about the cars again. “We then knew that we had lost everything. I got my family together and left for a safer location on the outskirts of the city. My neighbor later told me over the phone that the group of rebels returned looking for me, and have threatened to kill me when they find me.” Pastor Bomana later heard the rebels had also looked for him in a nearby village. In their search, the rebels killed two members from the local tribe. The rest of the villagers ran into the forest. There are many new believers among them. “I’m feeling very down. I can’t even concentrate enough to read. My wife has gone to the Congo, struggling with heart problems. I worry for my son who now hates Muslims and often gets nightmares. I pray that God will heal my family and bring us together again soon, so that we can continue this race of faith together.” Prayer points 1. Please pray for emotional healing for the traumatized members of the Bomana family. 2. Please pray for protection for the Bomana family and that the Lord will supply in all their needs. 3. Pray that the family will be reunited soon. 4. Pray for God’s comfort for the family members of the local tribe that were killed. Pray for protection for the young believers that have fled into the forest. Pray that the Lord will keep them strong in the faith despite the difficulties they are facing now. *The names have been changed to protect their identity
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