Our little town and hospital mission station of Gamboula are pretty much emptied of our Fulani and other Musxlim buddies. There are a few at the hospital, unable to leave because of illness, and there have been those who should not have fled across the river to Cameroon, but did. One woman and her family left, though she is close to death, because they know that soon, when she dies, there is no Imam left in town to pray over her burial, nor are there any Fulani men to dig the grave and help bury her. It is too heartbreaking for words, the way this country is ruled by fear and evil right now, that innocent people have to flee to protect themselves. What is more worrisome to me though, is that many of the non-Musxlim villagers here, whether they profess Christianity or follow animism, are cheering on this situation. Many have been so wounded by the Selexka (to them; all Muslxims) abuse and takeover, that they condone the exact same behavior in those on “their side” in the name of making things equal, in other words, revenge.
A few of us went to the town across the border on Thursday to visit our friends who have fled. After we crossed the river, we were struck by the bustle along the normally sparsely peopled and very quiet strip of about maybe 8 miles of road between the river borderline and the immigration office in the border town. We were amazed at all the new small homes going up. There are small stick frame huts and large grass roofed meeting areas full of people camping out, there are groups of displaced people gathered here there and everywhere.
There are makeshift shelters with leaves and sheets of plastic for rain and wind guards, and there are new brick homes going up. There are trucks and cars parked along the road, waiting … for what? Waiting for paperwork to enter the country? Waiting to return to CAR when there is peace again? Waiting for their owners or “borrowers” to come back some day from their transport to Chad?
In spite of this horrible situation, my buddy Jan Cone and I had marvelous reunions with many Fulani friends. There were smiles and “wannabe” hugs (the Fulani are super reserved) and what fun it was to have little friends joyfully holding onto my hand, hanging on for dear life and smiling up at me as if I was somebody very special. It was so good for us to connect, to hear their stories, and to see where they have been able to rent places to be safe and out of the rain which will come soon. It is hard for them, to be sure, but I am comforted to have seen some of them and to know they are okay. We will keep visiting and hope that we can be an encouragement to them. Please keep praying for this country, for common sense and peace and love to reign!