Ivory Coast (BGR/MNN) — There is an oppressive sense
settling over Abidjan. Supporters of
the president-elect, Alassane Ouattara, are massing for an attack in an effort
to oust incumbent Laurent Gbagbo from the seat of power.
According to reports from the United Nations, civilians are
being attacked and killed by armed forces, while up to 1 million people have
fled to Liberia, Ghana, Mali, Burkina Faso, Guinea and Mauritania.
The Southern Baptists' four missionary families have
temporarily relocated, so there isn't a current presence in Ivory Coast, which
complicates a humanitarian response from Baptist Global Response. With
the city under siege, food and fuel are in short supply. This is a report confirmed by a Baptist
pastor in the city.
Scott Bradford, a Southern Baptist team leader in Ivory
Coast, says some Christians in Ivory Coast wonder what God is doing. "One of the believers said they cannot sleep
at night because of the fighting going on outside. I am sure each is suffering
and am certain there are those who feel abandoned and are wondering why is this
happening … what God is doing and how He is working through this."
The Treichville Baptist Church in Abidjan, located six miles
from the troubled areas of the city, is now seeing people asking for help.
Jerry Robertson, one of the relocated team members, now in Ghana says, "The
Baptist churches I know have a big emphasis on prayer. They don't have vast
numbers, and they've seen mass demonstrations just get people killed. They
believe the resolution has got to come through prayer."
Funding to assist the refugees is alarmingly low according to relief
officials. With Japan's crises, the
uprising in the Middle East, war in North Africa and flooding and quakes in
South Asia, the humanitarian situation in Ivory Coast is all but
forgotten. The United Nations warns
that $87 million is simply not enough to sustain the refugees.
A BGR assessment team would be needed to decide what kind of
response might be called for from Southern Baptists. If BGR were to help provide
relief, there would need to be Southern Baptist personnel on the ground to
coordinate the efforts, notes Mark Hatfield, director of Baptist Global
Response work in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Pray that those who follow Christ can be a witness and
encouragement to both believers and unbelievers in the situation. And pray for a quick end to it. There are
more ways to get involved with BGR here.