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In August a Focus team led by Steve & Sharon Entwistle will begin in Zemio, Central African Republic (C.A.R.), a country with an unstable political situation, poor access, and limited communication facilities where rebels and the Lord’s Resistance Army remain at large. So why go? Because the Zande church has asked for our help. And their Mbororo neighbours still have no knowledge of the God who created them.
Light in the darkness
Steve & Sharon Entwistle share some of the joys and challenges as they prepare to lead this Focus team.
The cell tower in Zemio, doesn’t allow us to send or receive emails, for that we hop on our motorbike and share resources with an NGO located 5km away. For emergencies we have a satellite telephone, though you won’t be calling us much as it costs $8 per minute to call! Though we aren’t completely ‘dark’ in terms of communications, we are certainly ‘dim’.But that’s not our only challenge. There is much to be done for house preparations but supplies are in a village about 150 kms away. With many ceiling panels to pound in place, walls to paint, boards to cut, termite mounds to destroy, we are up to ours ears in work… and dirt!In the midst of this we are also learning language, working to develop relationships with the Zande church, and also make good initial contacts with the Mbororo. Pray that in all that we do, we would be lights in the darkness here, pointing people to a deeper relationships with Christ.
AIM’s interest in reaching into ‘Zande Land’ (northeast D. R. Congo, southwest C.A.R., and southeast South Sudan) can be traced back to our origins. Peter Cameron Scott (AIM’s founder and first General Director) envisioned a string of mission stations running east to west into central Africa. AIM finally made contact with the Zande in late 1913 at Dungu, D. R. Congo. Zemio, in the Central African Republic was opened as a mission field by AIM in 1923. Until 1990, AIM maintained a presence in Zande Land, with up to thirty missionaries in C.A.R. alone during the 1970’s and 1980’s. Since 1990, only one AIM missionary, Wendy Atkins, has served in this area, working with the Zande church, and encouraging Mbororo outreach together with a national missionary, Jean-Baptiste. In 2014 a small team went out to join Wendy, beginning a new chapter in AIM’s ministry amongst the Zande and Mbororo. Based in Banda, D.R. Congo, the team have been learning language and developing relationships among the established Zande church, and continuing outreach efforts among the neighbouring Mbororo.
Scars across the land
Many of those team members will go on to join the team in Zemio, using the skills and knowledge they have already gained, to support other team members and immediately begin work with the Zande church. The focus of the new team is to heal, transform and galvanise. The wars, coups and rebel attacks that have characterised C.A.R.’s recent history have also done their damage on the church. We go, recognising the emotional, psychological, spiritual, and physical scars that run across this land so long ravaged by spiritual darkness and war. We go to transform. Struggling to combat syncretism and apathy, there is a need for fresh vision, challenges, and teaching to help grow the Zande church into the abundant living that only Jesus offers. We believe this transformation will then galvanise purposefully determined, practically equipped, and passionate churches who will engage in outreach.