A HEART FOR ZEMIOPraying for the unreached Mbororo and the Zande church of war-ravaged Central African Republic
Central African Republic is not an easy place to live. Its remote, jungle wilderness makes transportation and communication to the outside world difficult, and the threat of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and other rebel groups is very real and daunting. Many years ago, missionaries worked in this area, and, by God’s grace, the gospel took root among the Zande people. The local church is the hope of the world and of central Africa, and the Zande church in Zemio has been waiting for the missionaries to return. Steve and Sharon Entwistle came in 2015 to reconnect with these believers and prepare for a team of other AIM missionaries to return to the land. The church and the team hope to reach out together to their neighboring unreached people group: the Mbororo.
The Mbororo, which means “cattle herder” in the Fulani language, are a large semi-nomadic people group of 15-18 million who are spread across a horizontal zone from West Africa into central Africa, bound by the Sahara desert to the north and the tsetse fly to the south. The important things in the life of the Mbororo are family, cattle, strong morals, and beauty, and they value excellence in poetry, singing, and dancing. At the homestead, they farm millet and sorghum and keep small animals. Cattle is the symbol of wealth, and children are symbols of the future. Since they don’t believe in an afterlife, they believe that a person lives on through his children. Therefore, not having children means a person has “died twice.”
Although they will call themselves Muslims, they preserve many of their Mbororo customs. They follow the Muslim rituals of prayer, fasting, and pilgrimages, but because of their fear of the spirit world, they wear fetishes and charms and practice rituals for protection. Despite this, they have demonstrated an openness to the Gospel, particularly when they see it worked out in deeds of love and mercy.
At the beginning of 2017, Steve and Sharon’s team arrived in Central African Republic with the goal of discipling the Zande church and reaching out to the Mbororo unreached people group. Shortly after the team’s arrival, however, the area became increasingly unstable and dangerous. Rebel forces moved in, spreading terror and destruction wherever they went, and left the team with no choice but to evacuate.
This continues to be a story of waiting. Waiting to hear from the survivors, waiting for peace and missionaries to return, and waiting for the Holy Spirit to work in miraculous ways despite the depravity of man. Follow this storyline for updates, and join us in prayer for this war-torn land.
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The Team’s Journey
The Resilience of Scripture and the Zande Church
AIM AIR visits and encourages Zande church leaders and displaced families in C.A.R.
On Good Friday, gun and artillery fire split the night. The next morning, our team was evacuated by bush plane from CAR.
At a time when my own heart was screaming agonizing questions of “Why is this happening, Jesus?” a frail, needy widow worn by years of spending herself for God was ministering to me.
Partnership between the CAR outreach team and the Zande church.
It takes a lot of effort to prepare for a team to arrive, especially when the team is settling in the remote Central African Republic.