Central African Republic (MNN) — The Central African Republic is back in the spotlight.
Ongoing violence is described as Christian-vs-Muslim, but Emily Fuentes with Open Doors USA says that doesn’t paint a complete picture.
“Labels get thrown on people,” Fuentes explains.
“People get labeled as Christians, but it’s more a cultural term rather than them practicing their faith. They have never claimed to be Christian themselves, in many of these cases.”
What’s going on?
The CAR’s infighting and descent into chaos hasn’t stopped since spring 2013. Muslim rebels ousted then-President François Bozizé and quickly took control of the country, appointing Michel Djotodia the new leader.
Lawlessness abounds in CAR. Fighting is a daily occurrence, and more than half of the country’s population is in need of emergency assistance.
An estimated 3.45 million people could lose their only food source by year’s end, IRC reports, if conflict continues to escalate and funding needs aren’t met.
If things are so bad in the CAR, why haven’t you heard about it before?
“The news has kind of stopped talking about it,” says Fuentes. “It’s getting worse, but the news rarely highlights it.”
Why should we care?
Persecuted believers are telling Open Doors they feel forgotten by the world.
“True Christians over there feel like no one cares about their suffering and all the horrific things that they’re going through,” Fuentes shares.
Pastors are specifically targeted by rebels and extremists, and Christian women are sexually assaulted.
Because families have been forced out of their homes by conflict, vulnerable women and young girls become easy targets for predators.
Open Doors is standing with persecuted believers. Through their Community Restoration program, the ministry is meeting physical, emotional, and spiritual needs.
“It’s absolutely vital that they get some trauma counseling to [help] work through all that they’ve been through, as well as some basic housing,” says Fuentes.
“There’ve been many who’ve had to sleep out in the open, and that not only exposes them to the elements but [it’s] also a safety risk, because they’re a lot more vulnerable to attacks.”
What can we do?
Open Doors USA and its in-country network are standing steadfastly with persecuted believers in the Central African Republic. Outlined below are four key ways you can join them.
“Prayer changes things. We’ve seen the impossible happen through answered prayer,” Fuentes says.
Pray that the fighting between rebel groups will stop. Pray for the healing of trauma on individual and national levels. Pray that through this conflict, Christ will be made known.
At the Open Doors’ Web site, you can sign up for weekly prayer alerts.
By partnering financially with Open Doors, you can help persecuted believers not just survive, but rebuild.
Words are powerful. By writing to persecuted Christians, you can help brothers and sisters in Christ know they’re not alone and that the world hasn’t forgotten them.
“Share this story with friends. Let them know what’s going on. Let them know [we] gotta be praying for the Central African Republic,” Fuentes urges.