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Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin | RLPB 211 | Wed 22 May 2013
CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC (CAR): THREAT OF THE LRA
by Elizabeth Kendal
As reported in last week's RLPB 210, a rebel army known as Seleka ('alliance') has seized control of Central African Republic. What international media and human rights organisations are failing to acknowledge is that while CAR is French-speaking and 76 percent Christian, the supposedly poor and marginalised yet exceedingly well-armed rebels are Arabic-speaking Muslims with many foreign jihadis in their ranks. While France (the colonial power) refused to aid the government - something that triggered angry protests outside the French Embassy in Bangui - French soldiers are now patrolling the streets at the behest of the rebels. Targeted attacks against churches and religious workers have led church leaders to question Seleka's intentions. Many other questions remain unanswered too, such as: 'Who backed this regime change and why?'
As if this were not bad enough, another threat hangs over the Christians of CAR: the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA). The LRA is a Ugandan rebel militia that emerged to wreak terror in Uganda's impoverished and marginalised north in the 1980s. However, when the Islamic regime in Sudan started sponsoring it, LRA activities expanded to fighting all of Khartoum's 'enemies', such as Uganda and its allies in southern Sudan. LRA terror escalated markedly in late 2002 such that, in May 2003, this prayer ministry (then under the auspices of WEA RLC) launched an international prayer campaign, triggering an intensive spiritual battle. The first call to prayer (RLP 219) went out on 14 May 2003. This was immediately followed by an unprecedented mass of defections from the LRA to the Acholi Religious Leaders' Peace Initiative. Kony responded on 14 June 2003 by ordering his troops to 'kill all clergy'. An urgent call to prayer was immediately issued, that God would 'bind all the demonic spirits allied with Joseph Kony and the LRA, to keep drawing defectors from all ranks of the LRA, and to effect the escape and rescue of hundreds of abducted children.' We prayed also for God to protect and bless all 'clergy, nuns, and Christian workers, especially those in front-line danger.' (RLP 224, 17 June 2003). To each request, God answered, "Yes!" Over the next 12-18 months, intercessors continued to battle against the LRA. Eventually the group was so decimated that violence had subsided greatly and redevelopment had begun.
But the LRA was not dead! Now just a band of some 200 fighters, the LRA still conducts hit and run raids, usually just for food, rarely to kidnap, but sometimes just to kill. In recent years the LRA has moved its operations into northern Congo and CAR. In February 2010 they killed two and wounded many others in an attack on a church in the southern CAR town of Rafai. Today the LRA has sanctuary in Sudan's contested territory of Kafia Kingi in southern Darfur bordering north-east CAR. In October 2011 US Special Operations troops entered CAR to assist African troops in the hunt for LRA leader, Joseph Kony, a former Catholic altar-boy turned blood-thirsty spirit medium. The Seleka coup has brought that to a halt. Analysts fear the chaos and insecurity in CAR will work to the LRA's advantage, enabling it to re-group and replenish supplies. The LRA has weapons from Sudan, but what they need is children. According to Voice of America, the US is now waiting to see 'how Seleka might pursue Kony'. One of the problems with the hunt for Kony has been the militarisation of large regions where soldiers tend to abuse civilians just as much as the LRA does! Because the hunt is so profoundly fruitless - Kony has been a wanted man for some 30 years - it well may be that the thousands of soldiers being paid to hunt Kony believe it is not in their economic interests to find him. If the US brokers a deal with Seleka on the pretext that Seleka rebels will 'pursue Kony' - maybe even arming and funding them to do so - then the threat to the Church will only be multiplied. The Church in CAR desperately needs our prayers.
PLEASE PRAY SPECIFICALLY THAT -
* God will confuse and confound the rebels to bring down their illegitimate rule and end their reign of terror.
* the Lord of justice will liberate Bangui, restore security to CAR and raise up Godly leadership for the nation.
'He [the wicked] makes a pit, digging it out, and falls into the hole that he has made. His mischief returns upon his own head, and on his own skull his violence descends.' (Psalm 7:15,16 ESV. See also Psalm 57:6.)
* the Holy Spirit will revive the Church in CAR, awakening her faith to fuel prayer. (While she may not have any allies amongst the nations, she does have an ally in Yahweh Sabaoth, the Lord of hosts! See Isaiah 40:10.)
* the Lord will so shield all CAR's children and all CAR's families (Isaiah 40:11) that they will know the Lord of justice is there for them; may their faith be multiplied.
* the Lord will bind the demonic forces that empower Joseph Kony (Matthew 18:18); may the Lord of Hosts bring an end to Joseph Kony and may all the world know that God alone has done it! (Isaiah 37:20)
SUMMARY TO USE IN BULLETINS UNABLE TO RUN THE WHOLE ARTICLE
Christians in Central African Republic (CAR) are at risk from the rebel army, Seleka, and the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA). LRA is an occultic militia with sanctuary in southern Darfur, Sudan, and now believed to be in CAR. Whilst the LRA has been severely diminished and reduced to scavenging, the chaos in CAR could provide it with an opportunity to re-group and also kidnap children to use as soldiers and sex-slaves. LRA leader, Joseph Kony, is a blood-thirsty spirit medium. Amazingly, over 30 years, Ugandan, South Sudanese, Congolese, CAR and US troops have all failed to find him! May the Lord liberate CAR from Seleka, protect CAR's children from the LRA, bring down Joseph Kony, and raise up Godly leadership for CAR. Please pray for the Church in CAR.
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This RLPB was written for the Australian Evangelical Alliance Religious Liberty Commission (AEA RLC) by Elizabeth Kendal, an international religious liberty analyst and advocate, and a member of the AEA RLC team.
Elizabeth Kendal is the author of
'Turn Back the Battle: Isaiah speaks to Christians today' (Deror Books, Dec. 2012)
Elizabeth is Adjunct Research Fellow in the Centre for the Study of Islam and Other Faiths at the Melbourne School of Theology. She is Director of Advocacy for Christian Faith & Freedom based in Canberra, Australia.
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