We would like to share this amazing experience with you so that you might bear witness to the power of our fervent prayers for Central Africa: Yesterday was the first day of the Novena for Peace. ACN felt it was imperative to launch this prayer initiative because the news arriving daily from the country was both frightening and alarming.
The situation seems to have escalated into a state of civil war, and sadly,a high probability exists that the situation may develop into a conflict between Muslims and Christians.
Much effort has been put into this Novena, because we really felt it necessary. And, because the people and bishops of the country were so thankful in the knowledge that we would not leave them to suffer this situation alone.
Yesterday, we witnessed what we might call ‘the first miracle’.
A miracle in Bozoum
Some days ago we had received from Fr. Aurelio Gazzera of Bozoum, [Central Africa] the message, that in the town and in his mission (where about 6000 people found refuge), they feared severe impending massacres. Father Aurelio began negotiating with both armed groups (the Seleka and the Anti-Balaka). The latter had put forth an ultimatum. Their condition was the complete disarming of the Seleka rebels. If they would not concede to laying down their arms, a mutual bloodbath would take place, bringing certain death to hundreds of innocent civilians.
Yesterday, December 17th, (the first day of the Novena initiated by “Aid to the Church in Need”), coincided with the ultimatum deadline, and in the morning the worst threatened to happen.
Finally by 15:30 we got the news: French troops had arrived in Bozoum, just a few hours before, the news had been that the troops could not leave Bangui, at all.
“They were welcomed as liberators,” Fr. Aurelio says. The Anti-Balaka have already laid down their arms, and the Seleka-rebels will soon be disarmed by the French soldiers. “PEACE!” the people shout! “I told the refugees that the violence committed by the Seleka is OVER! They can return to their homes. In the end we sang and danced the great GLORIA. This evening the atmosphere is joyful. It is as if it was already Christmas!”
Text by Maria Lozano, ACN International
Adapted by Amanda Griffin, ACN Canada