|The son of ICDI staff member Albert|
Yahimi was shot to death in April by
troops in the Central African Republic.
(Image, caption courtesy HCJB Global)
Nearly 400,000 people are now internally displaced according to the Geneva-based Assessment Capacities Project, or ACAPS. That figure almost doubled within the span of a month.
Jim Hocking with Integrated Community Development International (ICDI) works in the CAR with Living Water International and HCJB Global.
"What we're seeing on-the-ground is pretty much the collapse of the government," says Hocking.
That leaves people on their own against armed and dangerous Seleka militants.
"Because of that, people are leaving their homes, even in the capital city; I was there two weeks ago," Hocking reports.
"It's kind of a 'Catch 22,' in a sense, because although they're scared for their lives...they still have to live, they still have to provide for their families."
Central African legislature and civil society members met last week in Washington, D.C. to discuss the situation.
"The crisis that has been brought about by Seleka is now turning into a conflict between Christians and Muslims," Rev. Nicolas Guerekoyame Gbangou said through a translator.
Nearly all Seleka factions follow Islam, Gbangou explains, and approximately two-thirds of the group comes from countries outside the CAR. He says they're targeting Christians and trying to force their religion, customs, and traditions on communities and individuals.
"As they proceed through the country, they tend to destroy everything that is Christian," Gbangou states. "We've come to a point where people have had enough. They no longer are willing to tolerate these massacres and torture. People are starting to form self-defense groups.
"They're starting to buy machetes so they can defend themselves against aggressors, and we're now starting to take the path of Rwanda, if you will," he continues. "And maybe that's what it's going to take for the international community to finally intervene."
Along with leading a church in Bangassou, Gbangou is Chairman of the Regional Association of Evangelical Churches.
Despite growing religious tensions and rising violence, Gospel work continues.
"It has been difficult, but we have been able to accomplish actually MORE since May 1 than we have normally [during] this time of year," says Hocking.
ICDI teams have drilled 72 wells and performed over 400 maintenance visits. Hocking credits the success to ICDI's national staff, who dedicate their lives to sharing clean water and the Living Water of Christ. To this end, Living Water International is a crucial component.
"Living Water is a huge help with our maintenance program," Hocking states. "We're trying to keep the maintenance going on over 500 wells in the country, and keep the water flowing for the people in that country."
While Hocking was in the CAR recently, he attended training sessions for national ICDI workers with Jerry Wiles, President Emeritus of Living Water International. He says Wiles was teaching staff how to share the Gospel with villagers using orality.
"We trained all of our trainers and our maintenance teams that travel around," Hocking explains. "18 people had a follow-up training [so they could] become trainers, to help train even more people in the villages how to use Gospel stories, because it is an oral tradition there in the [CAR]."
The Gospel is the only glimmer of hope in a nation coming apart at the seams.
"Villages are continuing to receive Gospel tracts [and] receive encouragement from our staff," Hocking says. "Basically, a little touch of hope comes back to them that [there are] still people in the country who care about them."
It's up to you to keep hope alive in the CAR. By financially supporting the work of ICDI, Living Water International and HCJB Global, Hocking says you're helping them stay in the troubled nation.
"These organizations are what are giving hope to people in the Central African Republic," states Hocking.
The most important way to help is through prayer. Please keep praying for the Central African Republic. Pray for an end to religious tensions in northern CAR. Ask the Lord to bring peace to this troubled nation.
"Your prayers are going to make a difference in that country," says Hocking. "There isn't anything else that can really solve it."