Central African Republic (ODM) — The conflict in the Central African Republic has been taxing for many ministries working in the country. This is the latest update, in its entirety, from Open Doors USA:
Since the arrival of the Seleka rebels (Muslim extremists) in Bangui, Central African Republic, Pastor Obona* has been maintaining a low profile. Well-known in his district because of his pastoral activities and the planting of churches, Seleka had him in focus as soon as they arrived in his district.
[Pastor at the gate to his house] “Some brothers warned me,” he states. “They said, ‘Be careful, Pastor: they are looking for you. Hide yourself and your family!’ My wife and children left first. When I left the house, it was 7 p.m. and the Seleka were already arriving! As I left, we passed each other. Fortunately, by the grace of God, I was able to slip through the net under His protection.”
But the flight came at great cost with one of their children not surviving the stress. “We had taken in an orphan who was nearly 15 years old. This boy was unable to cope with the situation. He fell ill and died.”
The rebels plundered Obona’s house and then occupied it. “A well-intentioned imam told them that it was the house of a servant of God and that they would be cursed if they didn’t leave. They must have been afraid, because they left.”
However, until security is restored, Obona does not dare take his family back to their home. In the lingering insecurity, their family life has been completely disrupted.
“My family has been scattered,” he says. “My wife and I live at another pastor’s house with our youngest son. Our other children have been scattered amongst other pastors.”
When Open Doors team members visited, they went to his house. It was the first time in six months that he had returned. He says: “It is your visit that has given me the courage to return to see my house. It is a complete disaster! Everything has been plundered. There is nothing left. They even took my children’s school things. I also kept the church’s musical instruments at my house. Everything was taken.”
Obona does not doubt for a moment that the rebels targeted him because of his pastoral ministry. “We have planted churches in Bangui and its area. Around here, everyone knows me. The rebels have been looking for me because I planted these churches, especially the one in their stronghold.”
But despite the danger, he has discreetly started his pastoral activities again in an effort to bring comfort to the countless people whose lives have been disrupted like his. “Please pray for us, he says. “Pray for the liberation of the country, for the believers who are discouraged, and for my family to be together again.”
*Name changed for security.