Central African Republic (MNN) – Militias run rampant throughout the Central African Republic. Massacre reports went from rare to commonplace this year in the struggle for control of this strategic African nation.
Finding a peaceful resolution won’t be easy, explains Greg Kelley, CEO of World Mission. “You’ve got Islamic/Christianity conflict, which would represent the two main groups; you’ve got historical tensions that goes back decades; you’ve got people group or ethnic, specific aspects going on in there; and then you’ve got this overarching issue of corruption. So when you bring all those things together, you have got a mess.”
In pursuit of justice
In the past, the wheels of justice moved slowly. However, in the capital city of Bangui, workers are in the process of overhauling a courthouse. It signals the launch of the Special Criminal Court (SCC), created to deal with war crimes and ethnic cleansing. Trials should begin in 2021.
It also indicates a shift in CAR. People now acknowledge the trauma that changed the face of the nation. “Every two seconds, someone in the world is newly displaced because of war, violence or persecution, and the Central African Republic is at Ground Zero in many ways, especially on the continent of Africa,” Kelley says.
That displacement added to the lack of infrastructure and stability makes it tough for churches to connect. “Traditionally the Church has said, ‘Let’s wait for things to stabilize and settle and get more peaceful so that we can go in and begin dealing with the wounds and the trauma that people are dealing with.'” The problem is, “What we’re realizing is that you may wait ten years, you may wait 20 years for that stability if it ever does come.”
Hope returns in the Central African Republic
The question then became ‘How do we get the Gospel to the displaced?’ followed by ‘How can we begin dealing with the trauma these people survived?’ The answer, Kelley explains, was to take the Gospel to the people rather than wait for people to come to Gospel workers.
“Organizations like the American Bible Society, who we partner with, have come up with something called a ‘Trauma Healing’ message. They’ve said, ‘we can’t wait. It’s just way too important, what these people have endured.'”
It’s a Bible-based model that leads to sustainable trauma care in any context, he adds. “We load it on our solar-powered audio Bible, in the language of the people, and it’s going into these camps so that people are listening. It’s the Spirit of God through the Word of God, and through this training that is healing them right where they’re at, in their displaced situation.”
Attracted by hope in a message spoken in their heart language, people flock to the listening groups. “There are about three to four thousand participants (in CAR) right now, in our listening groups. And just in the last couple of weeks, we’ve heard of 250 people that have made decisions for Jesus just by going through this. The American Bible Society put it together, and World Mission is loading it on our solar-powered audio Bible in the native tongue of the people.”
Strategic prayer for the CAR
Kelley invites us to pray with him for the Central African Republic and its neighboring countries of South Sudan, Chad, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. “It’s the most chaotic part of the entire continent of Africa. Let’s just be praying for God to bring restoration. Jesus said in John 17, ‘I pray they would be one so that the world would know the Father has sent the Son.'”
The final thought comes from a question Kelley posed at the conclusion of the interview. He asked, “Can you imagine the impact not only that will have in Africa, but also in the world when we see peace and stability come to a place like the Central African Republic? The ripple effect can touch the entire continent of Africa and even the world!”
Headline photo courtesy of P.A.S. HOPFAN NGO via Flickr