The Bible Society in CAR (Central African Republic) has been the target of three attacks this year. In June, an armed group ransacked its office, beating the security guard and stripping the Society of its computers, other electrical equipment, its vehicle and some of the Bibles in its warehouse. In August, the same group returned and took more. The staff were traumatised but determined to keep doing their work to share God’s Word.
Then, in the midst of the latest crisis, which saw more than 400 people killed in violent clashes, a group of people broke into the Bible Society’s office on 10 December, smashing down the doors, wrecking furniture and destroying some of its stock of Bibles. The office is based near the National Assembly, which is a particularly troubled area of the capital Bangui, but no staff were present during the attack. Like most people in the city, they were all lying low due to the fighting.“We just weren’t expecting this to happen,” said Sylvain Ndjendolé, General Secretary of the Bible Society in CAR, who was emailing a colleague in France as he huddled with his children on the floor of his home while gunfire rattled outside. “We are living through yet another nightmare.” He and his children were awoken at 4am by gunfire. With his wife away due to her brother’s death, he did his best to comfort his terrified children as the shooting continued for 48 hours. “My 4-year-old son can’t cope with the stress. He has developed a fever but I can’t take him anywhere for help as it’s unsafe to leave the house. I am praying that his fever goes away.”
The Bible Society was deeply saddened to learn of the death of Bible translator Elisée Zama, who worked for the Association Centrafricaine pour la Traduction de la Bible et l’Alphabétisation. He was shot as he tried to move family members from their home to shelter in a hospital compound.
Agathe, our accountant, has had a particularly difficult time. Her husband was shot at and nearly killed, their home was ransacked and they have taken refuge in a monastery. Their children are also very ill – one had only just been discharged from hospital when the violence began. Simon, who co-ordinates our trauma healing program, lives in a Muslim majority neighbourhood and was horrified by the atrocities he saw. He and his family fled their home and, like many others, are sheltering at the airport, which is under the control of international forces. Jean, our literacy project co-ordinator, fled into the bush with his family when the violence started in his neighbourhood. He has been able to return home to gather some of their possessions.
Sylvain Ndjendolé, General Secretary of the Bible Society in CAR
Sylvain said that calm had been restored to some neighbourhoods with the arrival of French troops but that people are still very anxious. “I can see French helicopters and fighter jets, which is reassuring. We are hoping and praying that things continue to improve and that peace returns. We are so thankful for the prayers of people all over the world, which have upheld us in very difficult moments. We have really felt God’s protection over us. Please keep praying for peace to return to CAR.”
Please pray for the situation in CAR and for peace to be restored to this region.