By Stan Friedman
GAMBOULA, CAR (January 21, 2014) — Missionaries Roy and Aleta Danforth say they feel safe at the ministry they lead, but asked this morning for Covenanters to continue praying for the Central African Republic, which still could further descend into sectarian violence that has displaced one million people and killed more than a thousand.
“Thank you for your continued prayers for this country, for these ones who are trying to get as far away as possible from possible harm, for those who already are mourning, hurt, and displaced,” Aleta said in an email this morning.
The violence has not been as great near Gamboula, but atrocities such as the slaying of children, continue to be reported elsewhere. Several truckloads of Muslim refugees, mostly women and children from more than 60 miles away are trying to cross the border into Cameroon, near where the Danforths minister.
Although some of them have made it across, border agents are demanding $20, “which is impossible for these women and children,” Aleta said. Baptist missionaries with whom the Danforths live at a mission compound near Gamboula have been giving rice to the refugees. A colonel with one of the rebel groups that overthrew the country’s president last March has given two head of cattle as well as other food times to the refugees.
The Danforths have moved several miles from the mission compound to the agriculture project they lead, Centre d’Expérimentation et de Formation Agricole (CEFA). “We feel very safe, and being five kilometers off the main road we feel safer than at the mission,” Aleta wrote in an email this morning. “We have a huge gate that is locked at night and a good sentry.”
CEFA conducts agricultural research and offers training in sustainable farming practices and animal husbandry to farmers who are food insecure.
The nation’s Parliament elected Catherine Samba-Panza, the mayor of the capital city of Bangui, to be interim president on Monday. Aleta says Samba-Panza has a good reputation and her election is a good sign.
She succeeds Michel Djotodia who became president following the coup. Although he disbanded the rebels, who were a loose alliance of Muslim groups, some continued to attack Christians, who responded by forming vigilante groups.