Here are links to a couple of reports sent out by Reach Global, one of the missions that we partner with in CAR.
This is an encouraging story from Kim Cone, missionary colleague, from his visit to G’la with Roy and the others just last week. Our visiting group of 5 had had nothing but good visits and interactions with the Sele-ka in control there in our town. This story is representative of the state of affairs in our area and is very different from the rest of the country.
“At the border, I sat in a chair facing the gracious Sele-ka commander. A yard and a half from my left foot lay a man with his face in the dirt, obviously roughed up and with his elbows tied behind his back with a piece of electrical wire. I thought, “Some poor civilian”. …After we chatted awhile, the commander said, “that is one of ours”! “What”, I replied, “You mean one of YOUR troops”. “Yes,” he responded. “He was hassling civilians and so I put him in my jail for 8 days. Now we’ve just beaten him and we are releasing him.” And with that, they undid the wire and let him return to the barracks not too far away. The hospital personnel had told us that the Sele-ka brass were really cracking down on the misbehavior of their troops and now I’d witnessed it myself.”
We have been blessed with a law abiding, peace keeping colonel in the Sele-ka forces as our head honcho at Gamboula. We are hoping and praying that he will remain in our area and that other regions will follow suit. Thank you for praying!
Delphine, Leanne, Claire, Raissa, Clarisse, Sylvie,Susan, Gertrude
You may recall my writing of a women’s bible study that carols on Easter mornings. I joined them one year and was blessed to tears. This year on Palm Sunday, March 24th, a splinter group from the Sel-eka regime had taken over our little town and mission, and there was a curfew in effect. These ladies knew from experience the blessing of walking through the village from one end to the other, as the night turns to day, on Easter morning, singing hymns of the Lord’s triumph. But this Easter, the Sel-eka was supposed to have arrived to take over from the renegades, on Easter eve or Easter day. These ladies decided to go ahead and sing to the Lord, and wake the village up to Easter just like always. Some said that they woke up very early and had to sing by themselves to drum up the courage. Some of the villagers, when they heard them in the distance, thought that perhaps the Sel-eka had arrived. They walked and sang and celebrated the risen Lord, blessed to be a blessing!
Please keep praying for peace in CAR, that these sweet friends could live their lives without fear.
We heard the real story about March 24th, and the aspects are mixed, good & bad. We left a little after 2 pm that afternoon, and a renegade group, originally but no longer affiliated with the Sele-ka, came onto the mission. An eye witness (maybe from behind a house? or up a tree? these guys had guns!) said that they hesitated at the “t” in the road. One way was to follow where the 9 missionary vehicles had just gone, and the other was to go onto the mission property. They chose not to follow us – and they would have easily overtaken us what with one of our trucks breaking down and our slow river crossing. They chose to go to the mission. They tried to push start a truck, and apparently stood by while local villagers looted 3 of our houses. Sad to say, one in particular was targeted because of an old grudge! But, thanks to the ingenuity and loyalty of many, like this young man, dear friend of the Turk boys, there has been an estimated 80% recovery of the looted goods.
The story goes that he and a couple of others hid behind a tree down the path from the houses being looted. One would take a picture of the looters passing by with their phone and the other would tackle them, retrieving what they could. Over the next few days, the mission’s watchmen and many others made the rounds in the village and collected alot of looted goods. What a major encouragement these friends are to us!
When Roy & Luke & Leanne & Kim & Rose-Marie arrived to the small town on the Cameroon side of the river, they were welcomed to a lovely guesthouse at a Catholic mission there. Five leaders from Gamboula came across the river to have a meeting; to give our group an idea of how things really were going and whether it would be okay to visit.
The reports were positive. Our region was the shining example, angel protected, amongst all the regions in the country. Peace was reigning, and no violence or looting had taken place since that very first day. Schools were in session, the hospital was running, things were as if we had never left. Our group made the decision to cross, and had amiable encounters with the new forces in control. They were pleased to find that most of the people previously in charge, like the commissioner of police and the commander of the local armed forces, were back in their places. Aside from finding the peaceful atmosphere, the reunions with friends and colleagues were definitely the highlights of the visit!
Roy with Benoit Z, the ag director. Benoit Z has had a stressful time, unwilling to stay at home because of his position as director of a prosperous NGO. Please pray for him and his family!
Meet Benoit Y., friend and helper. This is one of the men who helped us to leave the mission in a timely manner on March 24th. If not for his surveillance of the situation, we may have driven with our 9 vehicle convoy right into the midst of a mob, complete with renegade soldiers. He bipped around on his motorcycle, checking things out for us before urging us to proceed, as quickly as possible, to the non-motorized ferry crossing. This option was a lifesaver, as, upon his return to his home after seeing us to the river, he came upon the soldiers trying to push start the truck that Kim & Luke had spent hours on trying to fix that morning. The delay probably saved all of our trucks from being stolen, as we had to take the alternate route at the last minute.
This is how our group found the truck on their visit last week. They didn’t quite succeed in their hot-wiring attempt, nor in their push starting attempts.
We are so thankful to have avoided meeting up with the advancing soldiers, and we are especially thankful for Benoit’s and others’ help on that last crazy day.
Dear Family and Friends,
Again we come to you with one basic request for prayer this month, but it has many facets:
Please pray for peace and order in the Central African Republic.
We still are hearing from our African colleagues that things seem peaceful at Gamboula. We hear that the local government officials and armed forces have been re-established, and that those who had been hired to help win the conflict have been called back to the capital. This gives us hope.
For peace to be completely restored in all of the Central African Republic – for no more harm to people nor destruction of property
For peace in the hearts of our African friends and colleagues at Gamboula, for healing for all, missionary and nationals alike, for healing in post traumatic stress.
For Roy and 4 missionary colleagues as they meet with leaders from our mission and decide whether they can make some day visits during these first few days of May. For safety in travel and wisdom in all things.
For wise choices for us as we make decisions about our future. Roy & I may live in the border town across the river from our mission, with a couple of missionary colleagues. This will enable us to have continual contact across the way and also make it possible for us to again work among the Fulani in that small border town.
For missionary colleagues still in the capital. That they would remain safe and be a blessing in their resolution to stay put.
Thank you for your prayers, as we rest in God’s care
As I think about our friends, our home, our opportunities to show how much God loves us and how we can’t be there, I can’t help but grieve. This is a dark and sad place to be, to think of some of the atrocities in many parts of the country that have taken place since March 24th, to contemplate the fear and the confusion and the loss that so many are experiencing as I write this from the comfort of a safe place. I oftentimes find myself not wanting to hear anymore, not wanting to cry or worry or feel anything, because it is overwhelming if you take it all in and own it. I retreat to numbness, but find myself needing still to feel and so I climb out and share and yes, even laugh, with those around me. I am working my way through the sadness for my friends and for the country, and yes, working my way through the guilt of being safe from it all, and the guilt of missing things and work as well as people. I am finding strength and comfort in the powerful Word of God: He promises to be right there with me, to cover me with His wings, to lift me up out of the mire. He doesn’t promise that there will be no mire, no pain, no trouble, but He does promise to be there, and He is faithful! And then, as I think about who & what I am missing, I am given the gift of the encouragement of voices of friends on the telephone, saying, “we are okay”. Tomorrow, Roy and others may be able to cross the river and embrace our friends and encourage the work and just plain old be there. Light shining up ahead! Possibilities, plans to prosper and not to harm, plans for a hope and a future! So I’ll look forward to seeing my buddies and riding my bike and thanking the Lord for the joy of it all!
My buddy Hawa, who I read the bible with, and her daughter
New Fulani friends who were going to see the Jesus film but we had to leave
Brand new pretty purple bike, ridden for only 1 day!
Even though the darkness may trouble us, He will show the way
If you noticed me writing in the first person singular just now, it’s because I’m by myself for a bit. Roy and Luke and Leanne Turk
Luke & Leanne with youngest son, Timothe, and one of the pets they left behind
took off this morning for a 6 day trip to the border town here in Cameroon that sits just across the river from our home in C.A.R. They will spend the night tonight with Jan & Kim Cone and RoseMarie Norhed
Jan & Kim, our older son’s in-laws, and partners in Fulani ministry
A quick snap of Rose-Marie on the evacuation ferry
at a guesthouse where the Cones and Rose-Marie have been since we left C.A.R. on March 24th. They will travel, all together I believe, to meet with a group of leaders from our hospital mission station, in that border town. They will all decide together whether the missionaries can make day trips over to our place, and will diligently consider together the wisdom and safety of such trips. Thank you for praying for them, for wise choices and safe travel and blessings as they interact with friends and encourage ministries.
We continue to hear bad news and good news from C.A.R. Our home mission station and nearby town continue to be calm, with no further looting since the day we left. We hear, almost daily, about attacks and troubles in different areas in the country, some relatively close but some all the way across the country in the far east. The current government claims these are the work of renegade soldiers. We have heard that the mercenary troops who helped with the coup have been called and in some cases herded back to the capital. Some say the capital is on the way to becoming more under control, some say there is little hope. Please keep praying with us! Pray for peace, for stability, for God to have mercy on those who are mourning, on those who are in pain, on those who are afraid, on those who are hungry, on those who are confused and worried and without hope.
Here at the SIL/Wycliffe guesthouse in the big busy city of Yaounde, we each have our own little cubicle rooms with bed, table & chair, and wannabe closet, but we share bathrooms and the dining area and kitchen. I happen to have the door open tonight that connects us to the room on the back side of the building. This is the first day there hasn’t been an occupant in that room, and I will enjoy the airflow until someone else moves in!
The bathrooms are down the walkway outside, in this photo just 4 doors down from our room.
The kitchen and dining area are huge, and tonight they are like ghost towns.
I wish I had gotten the camera out when it was hopping with activity, countertops and stoves covered with food being prepared and lots of smiles and interactions and sometimes even music. Tonight I’ll just share the kitchen with the rat that refuses to be caught. Roy saw it last night, but it was perched on the copper wires from the water heater, so he had to hold back on his desire to get rid of the pest in view of preserving our wonderful hot water system. I tell you what, though. If the power goes out tonight, I am not going to be in the kitchen, in the dark, alone with that rat!
We are thankful for a place to be, temporarily, while we wait for C.A.R. to stabilize. It is SO good to be with others who are in the same boat, as we can commiserate and share the news each day as it comes and understand and be understood when something pops you into tears or drives you into a funk.