Cameroonian Christians are crying out against the ongoing violence in their country, where churches are being converted into military barracks and believers are forced to flee, Christian Post reports.
“We need peace and the United Nations intervention.Many people die every day, homes and villages are burned, there are famished people and also those who take refuge in Nigeria. We do not have a voice in our country,” a Methodist Christian, whose identity wasn’t revealed, told Protestant Digital.
The violence in question stems from protests in the English-speaking region of the country, where some militant groups have created the self-proclaimed Republic of Ambazonia in opposition to what they say is oppression from the French-speaking side of the country.
Hundreds of people have been killed this year, while tens of thousands have been forced to flee as refugees. Some 50 primary and secondary schools and Christian hospitals have been affected, while at least four churches have been converted into military barracks.
“The government of Ambazonia, which controls most of the Northwest and Southwest, has placed a group of soldiers in the school until the crisis is resolved,” the Methodist Christian said. “There are often shootings between different forces, and a stray bullet can kill a minor.”
Kidnappings have also been rife. Seventy-nine children were taken by gunmen from a Presbyterian Church school but were returned earlier in November.
“They look tired and psychologically tortured,” said Fonki Samuel Forba, moderator of the country’s Presbyterian Church.
The Presbyterian school said that it will close due to concerns over safety.
“It is unfortunate we have to close the school and send home 700 children,” Forba said. “Their security is not assured by the state and armed groups constantly attack and kidnap them.”
American missionary Charles Wesco was killed late in October when he was caught in “crossfire” between the Cameroon army and English-speaking separatist forces, the U.S. government said. Wesco had only moved to Cameroon with his family, which includes eight children, earlier in October after selling most of his possessions in the U.S., in order to serve as missionaries with the Believers Baptist Church in Warsaw, Indiana. In October, on the occasion of a community bank holiday, Forba declared in a statement:
“Given what the English-speaking community is going through at this time, we cannot have a celebration while many of God’s children are being killed, suffering or living as internal or external refugees. The emphasis should be placed on supplying the Working Fund for the Mission, to allow the church to continue assisting our pastors and brothers displaced by the armed conflict that has brought pain and suffering to many.”