Baptists in Africa seek prayer

The Central African Republic, scene of recent armed conflict, is home to four different Baptist organizations with membership in the Baptist World Alliance.

By Bob Allen

Baptists in the Central African Republic have requested urgent prayer from global Baptists about rebels challenging the leadership of President Francois Bozizé.

Peace talks are scheduled this week between government officials and the rebel coalition called Seleka, which has captured at least 11 towns and cities since launching an offensive on Dec. 10.

Singa-Gbazia Nicolas Aime Simplice, president of the Association of Baptist Churches of the Central African Republic, described the situation as “precarious” in the landlocked country that gained independence from France in 1960.

Elements of the rebel group are reportedly Islamic fundamentalists, prompting fears of a situation similar to northern Mali, now under control of Al Qaeda-backed militias that have imposed Shariah law.

Simplice told officials at the Baptist World Alliance that life has become difficult for citizens displaced by the fighting in the impoverished but mineral-rich country. He said a number of Baptist churches have been badly damaged or destroyed in the conflict, and expatriates have fled the nation. He asked for Baptists around the world to pray for peace and stability in the country.

Simplice’s group is one of four BWA member organizations in French-speaking CAR. Combined they represent about 185,000 members in nearly 800 churches.