There we were, having just fled our homes with news of a shouting mob and marauding soldiers blocking our exit through our normal, easy route into Cameroon. We had dear Central African colleagues checking on the situation, keeping us up to date, giving us advice, praying for us and then even escorting us on the alternate route of crossing the river by ferry and continuing on to another border town. This border town has been closed for regular traffic for years, due to a local territorial dispute between the two countries involved. So, after ferrying across the river, our 9 vehicle, 28 person convoy traveled forward, looking over our shoulders for anyone following us, praying for all our friends and colleagues back at Gamboula. We heard that about 30 minutes after we drove out, some rebels/bandits broke into a couple of our houses. At the same time, we were wondering what the border station would be like. Would we be hassled? Could we cross a closed border? We arrived there in the late afternoon and light was fading fast. We lined our vehicles up, right to the barrier, and saw that soldiers were approaching, with a spokesman talking to the people in each vehicle. As he came to us, he said, in English!, please don’t be worried, get your ID papers and go give them to the man just across the barrier, but make sure you roll up your windows and lock your doors before you leave your truck, we don’t want anything bad to happen! He spoke kindly about taking care of the little ones – we had 3 kids under 4 yrs. with us. We all walked over and they started writing down the info from our passports and ID cards. Then they allowed all the vehicles to advance to their side of the barrier and started an intensive search of every bag, box, purse in each truck. I think it took about 3 hours, in the dark, but they were kind and were just doing their job, making sure we weren’t bringing anything we shouldn’t into their peaceful country from our war-torn one. When all was searched, they called us to return our ID papers to us, and then asked our group to make sure that everyone got their papers back. There we were, gathered in a group, with our ID’s in hand, tired and thankful that we were safe and checked into Cameroon. They gave us absolutely no trouble if any of us lacked visas and did not scrutinize our truck papers. Then the head guy said, “We have one more thing to say”, and I have to confess that most of us in the group were probably thinking, oh, no, here comes the $100/person border crossing extortion fee, when he says “Bon Voyage”! I was overwhelmed by God’s gift to us in the person of this man in uniform, an angel in olive drab.
We went on our way, in the dark, in the rain, over crummy bumpy muddy roads, to arrive at a hotel in Batouri, at 1 am, where a missionary colleague there had made reservations for us. We had a decent few hours sleep, waited out some rain, and drove to Yaounde, arriving safe and sound at about 10 pm last night.
Thank you so very much for praying, please continue to pray for C.A.R., for peace, for a fast resolution to the conflict, and especially for a minimum of hurt to the people.