Rebels in northern Central African Republic in June 2007. (Image courtesy of Wikipedia)
Central Africa Republic (MNN) ― With efforts to avoid violence in the Central Africa Republic thwarted, citizens are leaving the capital city of Bangui. Rebels rejected an offer from the country's president, François Bozizé, a offer that was brokered by the African Union.
Sam Thomas with Africa Inland Mission spoke with us at Urbana 12: "It's pretty severe, and we really just need to surround them with prayer at this time."
Rebels started overtaking key cities in the CAR a month ago, making steady progress toward the capital city. In addition, Thomas says, "There is a possibility of the rebel leader, Massi, arming people in the capital of Bangui because they have heard that there is a potential ethnic cleansing going on. We're concerned that with the machetes, the AK-47s and [other weapons]--when it gets down to street-level--there will be extreme bloodshed."
Africa Inland Mission has worked in the CAR for years, but most of their work is in the eastern part of the country away from the violence. Will AIM be affected? Thomas says, "It seems, though, as the potential for the country goes into a more unstable situation, it will affect everything from fuel prices to food, and cell phone service will probably be lost, which is a new thing for the eastern part of the country."
How else could the people they serve be affected? Thomas notes, "There are a number of people who go to Bange as the 'Promised Land' for employment. A lot of young people, a lot of college students, a lot of high school students...and we're just very concerned for the whole welfare of people from the whole country in the capital of Bange."
What can you do about it? Pray. "We can pray that Bozizi and Massi would look beyond their own personal desires for power, and look for what's good for the country."
Thomas says while the immediate future looks bleak, "I am encouraged by what God's doing through the Church. We can just pray that the Church will rise up and minister to their people, and come alongside those who will be praying as a result of this."