Pastor Killed in Renewed Violence in CAR
The situation in the Central African Republic (CAR) is deteriorating. A local evangelical pastor, who remains anonymous for security reasons, explained that the recent violence was started on Aug. 4 when (mainly Christian) anti-Balaka militiamen attacked the Séléka (mostly Muslim rebels) in Gambo. The anti-Balaka militiamen were trying to drive the Séléka rebels away from the diamond deposits which were being reserved by the Seleka for Muslims. In all, they killed around 40 of Seleka rebels.
The pastor continued to explain that Moroccan MINUSCA (UN Mission in Central Africa) soldiers, on their way to Bambari, passed Gambo. They had with them some local Muslims whom they armed. When these Muslims saw the bodies of their brethren lying in the streets, they descended on the civilians, killing 80. Among those killed were women and children and patients in the hospital, many who had their throats slit. Also included in the killing were six aid workers in the hospital, including Pastor Joseph Tokon of the CEBI church in Mabo—19 miles from Gambo. He had come to Gambo to work as a medical aid worker. In his 50s, pastor Tokon leaves behind a wife and seven children.
The situation has caused many to flee into the bush. Another attack has been reported in Bema, some 62 miles from Bangassou, but details are still sketchy.
According to the UN, there are about 600,000 Internally Displaced People in the CAR out of a population of just over 4 million. Thousands more have sought refuge in Cameroon, Chad and the Democratic Republic of Congo. According to the World Watch List on the Open Doors USA website, “The recent conflict in Central African Republic (CAR) has claimed thousands of lives, displaced hundreds of thousands of others and caused severe destruction of property. Although the Séléka have now been driven out of many parts in the country, numerous challenges remain. In the northeast, Christians are forced to flee from their villages and are denied access to farming fields. Large groups of Christians live in extremely poor conditions in refugee camps. While there is a significant Christian population, Fulani herdsman and Muslim extremists create significant persecution to believers.”
Pray for Christians and Muslims alike who are suffering in the midst of the conflict in CAR.
Father, we grieve over the violence and loss of life in the Central African Republic and we pray for both Christian and Muslim families who grieve the loss of loved ones. We pray today for the families of Pastor Tokon and the 80 men, women, and children who were brutally murdered in Gambo. We pray that these Christian families will continue to abide in Christ in the midst of their sorrow and know the comfort of their Savior. We pray for the families of Muslims who perished earlier as well, that You will open their eyes to the truth of Christ and draw them to Yourself in faith and repentance. We lift to You the cries of those who have fled from their homes that You will protect and sustain them. Thank You for the testimony of the Catholic church in Bangassou that has welcomed Muslim refugees into the fenced area of the Cathedral defended by MINUSCA. One day soon, may the name of Christ be highly exalted in CAR and may He bring peace to this war-torn nation. In the name of Jesus, who reigns over the nations and whose name is Holy (Isaiah 57). Amen.