Our church family in the Central African Republic (CAR,No. 35 on the 2018 World Watch List.) urgently asks for our prayers in the aftermath of the brutal killing of 14 Christians living in an internally displaced persons (IDP) camp in the city of Bria. Ex-Seleka militia, a group of Islamic extremists, were behind the attack.
They came with guns and knives–intent on bringing violence and chaos. Less than a mile away from the IDP camp known as PK3, they attacked anyone they saw, including women and children. In total, they killed 14: 10 women, two men and two children.
“We received word that they had been killed, but no one had the courage to immediately go and look for their bodies,” says an area church leader. It was only this morning that some youths went and retrieved the corpses. They brought them here and laid them in front of the MINUSCA [UN peacekeeping mission in CAR] office in the camp. They have since been buried.”
At least one of the women was pregnant.
Gedeon, a Christian who lives in the IDP camp, shared his grief and described the current situation.
“All those women slaughtered! It is terrible! The situation is very tense here. Although it is relatively calm right now, there no movement, nothing.”
‘They Don’t Want to See Any Christians Here’
The camp hosts around 50,000 people, mostly Christian and followers of traditional religions from Bria and neighboring areas. They are kept here because of continued insecurity, even after talks in the Sudanese capital of Khartoum on Aug 28.
Christians in Bria are terrorized by at least four factions that were formerly part of the Islamic extremist Seleka group.
“They don’t want to see any Christians here,” one church leader explained. “They say all Christians are anti-Balaka (a group made up of animists and nominal Christians), so if you are caught, you are gone. They falsely claim that even church leaders are heads of the anti-Balaka.”
Christians have been displaced, tortured and killed as fighting between various militant factions continues. The violence, which began in 2013, was largely between Seleka, an Islamic extremist group, and anti-Balaka. Christian leaders have condemned the actions of anti-Balaka, resulting in Christians and churches being attacked by both sides. Although Seleka has mostly been driven from CAR, violent splinter groups remain.
“Christians never go to town. If they do, they are threatened, arrested, and asked to pay fines before they are released. Christians never go to town. If they do, they are threatened, arrested, and asked to pay fines before they are released. There is no way to move to town. They have barricaded all roads, and if you venture out, you are at your own peril. We Christians have nothing else to do, no food to eat, no place to go. We rely only on prayers. Please pray for us!”
Another church leader in the camp pleaded:
“It is a very difficult situation for us here. We pray for God’s help for us.”
‘I WILL CONTINUE MINISTERING IN MY HUSBAND’S ABSENCE’
Despite the ongoing violence in CAR, many Christians are courageously continuing to minister to their communities.
Last August, Veronique’s husband, Pastor Tokono, was killed when an ex-Seleka group attacked the town of Gambo, in eastern CAR. She and her children had left Gambo a few days before the attack because the situation had become very tense.
“I will continue ministering even in my husband’s absence just like I did while he was alive,” Veronique shared when an Open Doors worker visited her. “I pray that the Almighty God forgives the attackers because they do not know what they are doing. And also that He will save them from that evil way.”
Praying WITH YOUR CHURCH FAMILY IN CAR
Please join us in praying with grieving families and friends and the church in CAR. Below are specific prayer requests. Pray that:
- God’s Holy Spirit would comfort and heal the families of those killed in the attacks in Bria and Gambo.
- God’s peace and protection would cover those who live in internally displaced persons camps in CAR.
- God would reveal Himself to those who are intent on harming Christians–that they would be transformed by His love.
Your support and prayers enable Open Doors to support the church in CAR to provide emotional and physical relief to Christians targeted in the violence, including trauma care, economic empowerment programmes, and discipleship training. Less than $40 can provide two days of trauma care training for a church leader or lay leader in Africa, preparing and equipping them to help others recover and heal.