A small band of women huddled together in their dusty village, not knowing where to turn. From a wide range of ages and position in life, these Christian women are bound together as victims of rape amid the lawlessness that has become Central African Republic (CAR). In the aftermath of the initial attacks, three of them have tested positive for HIV, two have Syphilis and one is pregnant. Not only are they overwhelmed by the trauma and physical repercussions, but they have also been ostracized by their families, ignored by their congregations and marginalized by their society. They are outcasts.
These women now live together in a suburb of the capital, Bangui, where, in a clearly God-ordained encounter, an Open Doors (OD) worker stumbled upon them. “No one cares for these women,” he said, “But our God, who sees in secret, has brought it all to light for them and for me. In my research to determine the most urgent needs for OD to address, I came across one of the raped women. When she heard that we would help her get medical treatment, she burst into tears, and then told me about the other women she was living with. That which is impossible with man is possible with God. He has been working a great miracle for me to come in contact with these women.”
He was able to help the women receive medical care, but a tremendous need for counseling remained, so he began praying for a woman to walk alongside them with godly wisdom and compassion. In His great mercy, God provided a woman we refer to as Komoyo Lina who began counseling as many victims as possible amid the lingering instability in CAR.
To Komoyo it seems like there is not a single woman in CAR who has not been traumatized by sexual assault. “Those who have not been raped have witnessed how their daughters have been raped in front of their families or how their husbands have been murdered or how their property has been destroyed.”
The gruesome horror experienced by these victims of rape is impossible to describe. The response of their communities compounds the devastation. “It’s a disaster,” laments Komoyo. “Women are raped and then rejected by their husbands, their parents and their culture. They are stigmatized and targeted everywhere. Sometimes they run away to an area where no one knows them. But there they often have no roof over their heads, no food, no clothes. It’s a tragedy.”
Komoyo is doing everything she can to help these women work through their trauma, but every day is overwhelmingly difficult. “When we see these women, we often don’t have words. I don’t know what to tell them. I told the Lord I cannot cry anymore. It is really difficult…We continue to pray that He brings peace to these women, that He comforts them.”
She concludes, “Prayer, faith, trust and hope in God keep me going. God has never forsaken His children. That knowledge keeps me going.”
Oh Father, we come before You with tears on behalf of the women of the Central African Republic; so many of them have endured hardship and trauma that is beyond our imagination. We are without words or means to help and even Open Doors and women like Komoyo are limited by the lack of security and peace. But we know You hear their cries and will answer; we pray that it will be soon. Whether through miraculous intervention or by means such as a UN Peacekeeping Operation, we pray for You to restore peace so that relief might be brought to the needy. In the meantime, we pray for Your comfort and peace to rest on the women of CAR. Draw them close. Thank You for bringing these women to the attention of Open Doors; please bless this ministry and allow the workers there to reach more women. Strengthen Komoyo and women like her to continue on; give them words of comfort and strength to speak into the trauma. In the name of Jesus who Himself endured suffering on this earth and hears the cries of our hearts, Amen.