Fighting in Ivory Coast leads to new opportunities.

By February 3, 2005

Ivory Coast (MNN)–Ivory Coast’s instability has forced the United Nations to back an arms embargo. Rebel forces welcomed the move, while the government was less enthusiastic.

A string of peace deals failed to break the impasse and a fragile accord shattered when the president’s forces attacked the rebels in November. Government forces bombed major towns and crashed through a buffer zone policed by French and U.N. peacekeepers.

The fighting closed the International Christian Academy, which had just re-opened in September following a 2002 coup. EBM teams evacuated in December, but with the hope that they would eventually return.

Evangelical Baptist Missions’ Jim Burdick explains, “We’re a part of a team organization there with several mission agencies; had a Christian school for missionary kids in that area.”

They had a team recently return to a warm welcome, but with no plans to remain. “We have had the opportunity to return to campus. Most of the buildings are in good shape. The French military is still residing upon the campus and we were able to actually remove some household goods.”

Burdick says the fighting forced their Ivory Coast team to move to other countries. “The work that had gone on there in missions work of course is in much upheaval, because the embassies have asked the foreigners to leave the country.”

The effect of the dispersal means ministry elsewhere has begun, effectively growing evangelistic work or quickening the timeline of projects already in existence.

Burdick say that leaves an urgent prayer need, “for the nationals; we don’t know what this means for the future of the church in Ivory Coast.”

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