The Central African Republic (CAR) is one of the world’s poorest countries and faces immense physical human needs. A long series of coups, counter-coups, and civil conflicts devastated the economy and infrastructure. Muslim rebel groups (Séléka) and mostly Christian militias (anti-balaka) fought with government forces and each other. Hundreds of thousands were displaced. Although two successful elections have been held since then, rebels still hold significant swathes of the countryside. Pray for God to establish peace throughout the country.
Praise God that the national Church is emerging as a vehicle for witness and service. National missionaries and agencies are on the increase, and indigenous-led ministries are springing up. Bible translation work in mother tongues and literacy in the churches are progressing as well.
Widespread evangelism, especially in the 1960s and 1970s, yielded massive numbers of converts but a shortage of disciples. This has slowed the momentum of growth and is evident in the following challenges needing prayer.
- Widespread nominalism and syncretism. The huge numbers of unaffiliated Christians reflect this, and even within most churches there is little depth of commitment and limited grasp and application of the truths of Scripture. Animistic religions may be decreasing on the surface, but their influence is still strong.
- Denominational rifts hold back cooperative efforts. Pray against the root causes. A failure on the part of leaders to demonstrate Christ-like humility and graciousness in their walk and ministry not only stunts their own fruitfulness but passes on their flaws to their congregations. Breakdowns between church leaders and missionaries have on occasion caused heartache, multiplied splits and isolated ministries from one another. Pray for healing of past wounds and for a deeper appreciation and level of trust among God's servants, both national and expatriate.
- The failure to make discipleship a top priority also means that high moral standards and honesty are frequently lacking in the churches. Pray that increased emphasis on disciple-making might yield Christians of high moral fibre.
Young people and children. Almost half of the population are under the age of 15. A wide-ranging vision for this ministry is crucial, but too few churches have the vision, structures and workers to disciple the upcoming generation. Faithful teachers who will mentor the younger generation are needed. Pray for:
- Children's ministry. CEF, SU, Adonai Heritage and others vitally impact kids. There is freedom to minister in schools; pray that this will be fully utilized. Other faiths actively entice young people via scholarships and grants as well as the temptations of magic.
- Secondary students are responsive to the Gospel of Hope as the economic and political upheavals seem to offer only despair and disillusionment. Pray for the activities of UJC(IFES), Jeunesse en Action and YWAM; these ministries are present in almost every secondary and tertiary institution in the country.
- The establishment of primary schools, in this case, church-run schools, is a transformational ministry that is much needed, yet much neglected. Pray that such schools might reflect and instill a Christian character as well as preparing young people for the challenges of their future.
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Content taken or adapted from Operation World, 7th Edition (2010) and Pray for the World (2015). Both books are published by InterVarsity Press. All rights reserved.