On Sunday, I was invited to preach at the Evangelical Church of the Cooperation in Mbanza-Hoto neighborhood. When we arrived at the church, we were welcomed by the lay-pastor who is also a medical doctor. He treats women who have been raped, and told us of the daunting number of women who have suffered in this way.
The atmosphere at the church was lively. Initially, there were mostly young people, but the adults joined later to listen to my sermon from Rom. 12: 19. “Do not avenge yourselves my beloved … for vengeance is upon the Lord”.
I combined this Scripture with the story in Genesis 34 about the rape of Dina, Jacob’s only daughter by the son of the Shechemite king. Simeon and Levi avenged their sister with the help of the other brothers by killing all Schememite males and looting everything, including women and children.
There is so much resemblance between this story and the relentless rape, murder and looting in CAR, and the spirit of hatred and revenge with which Seleka and anti-Balaka act. Although Christians are allowed to defend themselves, our self-protection may not transcend into acts of revenge. The destructive consequences of revenge can be clearly seen in these present day realities in CAR.
Romans 12: 20 tells us to do the opposite of revenge. It tells us to love our enemies.
There are examples of this happening, as well; in the town of Bouali, a priest sheltered Muslims in his church to protect them with his own life against anti-Balaka reprisals.
Open Doors is standing beside the church in CAR to assist them in the immense task of reconciling the people of CAR. We are convinced that it all starts here, with the very hard but extremely spiritual response of loving the enemy and entrusting vengeance to God. We pray for God’s grace upon His children in this, and pray particularly for church leaders as they help their members understand and live out these truths.
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