There is misery written on people’s faces and my heart breaks to see God’s servants unable to hide their suffering, a church leader wrote to Barnabas Fund in October 2015, just weeks after up to 200 people were killed in clashes in capital city Bangui. The situation, he said, was one of”total carnage” and “chaos”. “The scenes are surreal,” he said. “When,” he asks, “will this Calvary end for the people of CAR?”
The attacks were prompted by the murder ofa Muslim motorcycle-taxi driver. Without evidence, Muslims targeted Christians with the worst violence the country had seen in 2015. Anti-balaka (meaning anti- AK47 bullets or anti-machete) fighters responded with reprisal attacks leading to more looting and deaths.
The bodies of over 30 men and women were outside a church in Bangui after more reprisal attacks later that month. Some 20,000 believers fled their homes to displaced persons’ camps for safety but eight Christians were killed on 3 December when Muslim Seleka militants attacked a camp in central CAR.
Thousands have been killed in the past two years after violent clashes erupted between Muslim Seleka groups and Anti-balaka militia in late 2013. Although the Anti-balaka call themselves a Christian militia, CAR churches strongly condemn their violence. The group’s militants wear charms and disguises to protect them against enemy attacks, stemming from a mixture of animist beliefs and local traditions.
Christians also face attacks from Fulani Muslims who have seized, torched, and vandalised Christian homes and missionary centres in the rural north central part of the country.
In 2013, Muslim Selaka rebels seized political power in the Christian-majority nation. Atransitional government was put in place in January 2014 and since then, the situation has continued to be extremely volatile. Elections that were set to take place in October 2015 were postponed in the wake of the violence. Ayes vote in December in the referendum for a new constitution clearly confirmed the wish ofthe people to see apage turned and this dark chapter in our country’s history closed once and for all,” a Christian leader told Barnabas.
Pray for a stable government and for an end to the violence. Pray also that the many thousands of Christians who are displaced within CAR and in neighbouring countries will know the Lord as their Rock and their Shepherd in these times of continuing upheaval and will react to the violence in a Christ-like way.