Central African Republic Church Leaders Plead for Action
Church leaders in Central African Republic (CAR) issued a joint appeal for urgent action from the international community to prevent "genocidal interfaith civil war" in the troubled nation in the heart of Africa, Open Doors USA reports. Prominent church leaders representing all known denominations in the country issued the appeal on Oct. 6 after a three-day conference in the capital of Bangui hosted by Open Doors on the request of the local church leaders. Since the government of President Bozize was deposed in a coup by the Seleka coalition of Michel Djotodia in March, the country has been engulfed in lawlessness. "In this situation, Christians are specifically most affected," the church leaders explained. In the Bangui Declaration the leaders also appealed to the international community and Christians around the world to, among other things, ensure that security is restored and that the millions of people affected by the crisis receive emergency humanitarian relief. "We are glad we could be here at this time," commented Open Doors' Africa director at the conclusion of the conference that took place amid a tense atmosphere as violence continued across the country and in the capital. "The Church has been deeply affected. Christians are faced with very many challenges and are in dire need of assistance. It is our responsibility to raise as much awareness, prayer and action as possible. This is what we have been called to." An immense humanitarian crisis is in the making. It is estimated that at least 4.6 million people’s lives have been disrupted by the violence; 1.6 million have been displaced and hundreds of thousands face food insecurity. While the international community has been slow to offer any assistance, a small force of poorly trained regional peace keepers have proven unable to protect civilians and restore order. Church leaders expressed deep appreciation for Open Doors efforts and its presence despite the tense atmosphere. The Open Doors team reported from the conference that "we heard deeply moving testimonies of persecution in the country. People wept. We prayed for them. We had an extraordinary time of prayer."