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Phil and Linda Byler, missionaries in Sudan
April 21, 2014 8:07 am
Published in: Uncategorized

The first sign of trouble was the large camouflaged armored personnel carrier coming towards us on main street. It rumbled past without incident. Next was a white United Nations truck fully loaded with vigilant soldiers in full uniform and menacing guns. Within a block we encountered additional French and African Union military vehicles and troops. Thankfully their guns remained quiet.

Nevertheless the street-sides were bustling with commerce as women, children and youth carried on heads, hands, and small carts their goods to and from the markets of dozens of roadside shops. They didn’t seem to mind the soldiers sharing their city streets.

Between the bustling small shops were gaping plots of cement rubble. Dozens of former shops, mosques, and churches were in complete ruin. We even observed a two story former Mosque coming apart brick by brick as a group of young men diligently accomplished their revenge. These are the Anti-Balaka our driver informed us, a civilian militia who had recently driven out the Seleka Rebels. The Seleka had overthrown the government a year ago. After months of Seleka rule characterized by ongoing looting, destruction, killings and focused anti-Christian targets, the local civilians assembled themselves in the bush and drove the Seleka out of this capital City of Bangui, CAR. Sadly the Seleka carried their agenda to other towns and provinces.

Bangui has allegedly been the home of more trouble in recent months than any other city in the world. Yesterday when our tiny 6-seater airplane touched down on the huge asphalt runway we were startled to observe soldiers protecting the runway from the displaced people whose temporary plastic homes were in the grass ways merely a few meters away. Certainly these people have seen trouble.

We are here on a mission of love, mercy, and compassion. Our partner church in Bangui has been in the thick of the trouble. Only two weeks ago they were able to reassembly in their church for worship. Two of their youth have been killed. Multiple of them have lived in the bush or in the displacement camps in fear for their lives. Food is scarce. Society, commerce, education, and law enforcement have been in complete disarray. Troubles abound.

I felt impressed to share with our afternoon assembly of both churches from John 16:33. “In me you will have peace. In the world you will have trouble. But take heart I have overcome the world!” I hoped to encourage them by these Jesus words.

The afternoon service began. The somber mood soon gave way to enthusiastic welcome of the AIM visitors and then escalated into wholehearted, vibrant worship as these believers replaced their troubles with joyous worship of their Savior.

The encouragement and challenge which I was prepared to share with them from John 16 was instead declared back to me with a joyful demonstration of the power of the gospel. Indeed JESUS has overcome the troubles of the world.

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