Wendy Atkins shares how the church, planted in the southeast corner of French Equatorial Africa, now the country of Central African Republic (CAR), has grown despite rebellions, wars, and consistent country-wide insecurity.
The United Nations described the Central African Republic as one of the countries least able to deal with an outbreak of Covid-19. Doctors are already struggling to treat existing cases of malaria, measles and tuberculosis. There is no accurate data about numbers of Covid-19 related deaths and cases as testing is limited. Please pray for CAR during the pandemic.
Spanning a length of 1,362km, the Evangelical Community of Churches in CAR (Communauté d’Églises Évangélique en Centrafrique or CEEC) exists from Bambouti to Bangui. The most current upheavals perpetrated by rebel groups from 2008 to the present have turned hundreds of church members into refugees and internally displaced persons. Adding the current Covid-19 pandemic to the mix, one might wonder if the church in CAR continues its ministry of preaching the Word, evangelising the lost, and demonstrating the love of Jesus Christ through practical means. The answer is an emphatic yes.
In the refugee camp in the Democratic Republic of Congo where thousands of church members fled when Zemio and surrounding villages were attacked in 2017, government restrictions in light of the pandemic keep the church from gathering for Sunday services. But faithful pastors proclaim the Word of God throughout the camp using a loudspeaker system powered by a 12V battery. Church leaders trained in trauma healing continue to minister using solar-powered handheld mp3 players embedded with challenging stories and Scripture.
Before the Covid-19 restrictions took hold, the church in Bangui reached out to encourage the displaced people in their midst. Their pastor shared God’s Word, exhorting those present to place their confidence in God, then to look to him in prayer. Small but significant gifts were distributed to those present as tangible proofs that God continues to care for them.
One displaced person explained that after running the 1,050km from his home in Zemio to Bangui to save his life, he considered it a privilege to find refuge in the church in Bangui. An elderly widow suffering from diabetes shared that due to the rebellion she came close to losing her faith, but the Word of God preached faithfully at the CEEC Church in Bangui drew her back to God.
Jesus promised that he would build his church, a church strong enough to not be overpowered by evil (Matthew 16:18), a promise that remains true for God’s church in CAR. Fortified by the Word and by our prayers, this church will stand as a strong testimony of God’s power and love, no matter what happens in that war-torn, rebel-controlled country.