With the ongoing political and military conflict in the Central African Republic, news was received recently of God’s intervention and protection of our National Director, Josué Mbami, on a road trip not too long ago.
Josué had been in Bangui in early July on business. Along with him on the trip was the medical director of the hospital at Gamboula, an American nurse (Leanne Turk with SIL) that occasionally helps at the hospital, and the driver.
After they finished up their work in Bangui, they headed out to go back to Berberati early on the morning of July 9. When they were about 55 miles north of Bangui, they noticed up ahead on the road that there were some tires burning and a large crowd gathered. They stopped well short of the commotion, but were quickly surrounded by the local anti-balaka militia members*. Apparently, earlier in the day there had been a clash at the site of the burning tires between the anti-balaka and the African Union peacekeepers, and one of the anti-balaka had been killed. So the anti-balaka decided to stop all traffic on the road in protest.
But, not only did they stop Josué and his team, but they decided to “detain” them at their base, about four miles into the bush from the main road. When the team and their truck arrived at the base they found the anti-blaka also commandeered three or four UN vehicles that had been traveling earlier that morning. Among the UN staff traveling were two other white women.
Once they got out of the vehicles, the anti-balaka confiscated the keys to the truck, all cell phones and all electronic equipment (computers, etc.). Then they decided to take the three white women (Leanne and the two from the UN) and “escort” them to the commander’s camp a little further in the bush. In order to get there, they had to cross a river in a dug-out canoe, so off they went with the women. They told the guys guarding the vehicles that if they were attacked on this side of the river, they would kill the women on the other side of the river. If anything happened to them at the commander’s camp, then the anti-balaka on this side of the river were to destroy the trucks and kill the hostages.
Praise God for His protection of Josué and the team. Josué thanks us for our continued prayers, even when we aren’t aware of what is going on.
*Anti-balaka were originally villagers who organized themselves into self-defense groups against marauding bandits that roamed the country. But last year, under the Muslim Seleka government in the CAR, the anti-balaka took on much more of a militia role with the goal of overthrowing the Seleka government. Unfortunately, once they were successful in overthrowing Seleka last January, the anti-balaka turned their sights on all Muslims and tried to rid the entire country of them. Since the central government still has very little control over the country, the anti-balaka militia see themselves as the enforcers of their ideal of law and order.