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Darfur conflict, political strife cause churches to suffer in central African na

After visiting churches in nearby Nigeria, minister David Nassa returned home to the sounds of gunfire. Nassa, an evangelist in the central African nation of Chad, said that rebels opposed to the government of Chadian President Idriss Deby were attacking the capital city, N’Djamena, in advance of the country’s recent elections. “If the elephants are fighting, the grass suffers,” the minister said, describing the plight of his city’s church members caught in the conflict.
The country’s woes are linked, in part, to unrest in the Darfur region of neighboring Sudan.
Thousands of Sudanese refugees spilled across the boarder into Chad in 2003 and 2004, fleeing the Janjaweed, a brutal militia accused of “ethnic cleansing.”
Tensions increased in late 2005 when Chad accused Sudan of arming and financing the rebel groups now attacking the Chadian government.
At least 300 church members are at risk from the fighting, said Bren White, an elder of the Frederick, Md., church and overseer of Operation French World, a ministry that sends mission teams to French-speaking countries.
Churches of Christ began in Chad in 1991, when Paul Kudi Eti and Jean Boido, evangelists in neighboring Cameroon, worked with Bible correspondence students and helped launch the first church in N’Djamena, White said.
Nassa, a native Chadian, said the two congregations in the capital city have grown rapidly in spite of the country’s strife.
Additional congregations, ranging from 30 to 100 members, meet in villages including Fiang, Pala, Doba and Bendor.
White said his ministry was sending funds to Nassa’s family so they could flee into Cameroon until the conflict subsides.
“We ask you to pray for peace,” Nassa said.
June 1, 2006

Filed under: International

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