CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC21
World Watch List: 21
Leader: President Faustin-Archange Touadera
Population: 4.7 million
Christian: 3.4 million
Main Religion: Christianity
Source of Persecution: Islamic Oppression
Open Doors supports the persecuted church in Central African Republic through:
- Persecution preparedness
- Enhanced discipleship training
- Trauma care and social rehabilitation
- Socio-economic development
Fighting between militant groups intensified
The fighting between the Seleka militant group and the anti-Balaka is still ongoing in some parts of the country, and has even increased in intensity. The former is mostly made up of Muslims, and has split up into smaller factions, while the latter is mainly composed of animist believers. Anti-Balaka is frequently referred to as Christians, and churches in Central African Republic (CAR) have strongly disassociated themselves from the group. Both UN peacekeepers and the government have not been able to stop the conflict, leaving Christians and other civilians unprotected.
Christians and churches targeted
The Seleka groups dominate the northern part of the country, and target Christians and churches in their attacks. Anti-Balaka began as a self-defense group against the attacks of Seleka, but has now turned into a criminal gang. Besides continuing attacks on Muslims, even civilians, anti-Balaka also targets churches and religious leaders, especially those that oppose their activities. 146 believers were killed and more than 4000 properties belonging to Christians were attacked in the WWL19 reporting period.
Killed for reading the Bible
Even though CAR is known as a majority Christian nation, many are nominal believers, and mix their Christian faith with traditional beliefs like sorcery and witchcraft. There are Muslim-dominated areas in the northern, eastern and western regions; Christians in these areas face discrimination and social pressure because of their faith. In the northeast, there are many Christians living in refugee camps after they were forced to flee from their villages and denied access to farming fields. Believers from a Muslim background in these areas experience opposition and pressure from their families to recant. They are at risk of attacks by radical Muslims so they do not meet together. Even reading a Bible at home may result in being killed.
Gender specific persecution
When militants attack, they rape and sexually assault females. Men are targeted for torture and assaults, and may be forced to join the militant groups too.
- For the believers living in Muslim-dominated parts of the country who face constant persecution. Pray that they have to grace to respond in love, and that God will use them to bring many to know Him.
- For God’s grace, healing and comfort for all who have been affected by the violence in the country, whether they have lost loved ones or survived the violence.
- For wisdom for pastors as they minister to their flock in the face of great difficulties. Pray that the Lord will comfort them so that they can comfort others.