Ivory Coast Refugees Flee to Liberia
October 20, 2011
By Rae Burnett
Africa Director Christian Aid Mission
Rae has travelled extensively in Liberia and Ivory Coast and seen the work of this ministry first hand.
James Cuffee crossing a bridge at night
More than 1 million refugees have fled the Ivory Coast to escape the bitter civil war precipitated by the fraudulent election of French-backed president Alassan Ouattara.
Indigenous missionaries are working in the refugee camps, delivering aid and providing holistic help to the suffering victims. Christian Aid Mission, based in Charlottesville, Virginia has established an emergency fund to provide assistance. Contributions may be made online or by telephone at 800-977-5650 and should be designated to Gift Code 532CEFM.
One of the most prosperous and stable nations in Africa under the rule of former president Laurent Gbagbo, the Ivory Coast was flung into chaos when the rigged election results declared Ouattara the winner. Gbagbo, who refused to relinquish control, insisted the contrived election was a foreign plot to control the country’s sizeable natural resources.
Hundreds of people were killed in escalating violence between pro-Gbagbo and pro-Ouattara forces.
Of the 1 million Ivory Coast refugees, approximately 200,000 have fled to Liberia, an extremely fragile country with its own history of civil war. The refugees have overwhelmed several villages.
James Cuffee, ministry leader of Christian Aid-supported Christ Evangelical Fellowship Ministries in Liberia is laboring to share the gospel with the many Ivory Coast refugees, almost all of whom are either Muslims or idol worshippers.
Sharing the gospel with the Ivory Coast refugees
During their most recent evangelistic outreach, Cuffee and his missionary coworkers preached Christ, distributed gospel literature, and showed gospel films. They were saddened, however, to be unable to provide food, clothing, or Bibles to the destitute refugees.
“We have observed that the refugees are receptive to the gospel. We can use the opportunity to win them to Christ. The cults and false religions are going there to give them assistance, but they don’t have the true Word of God,” wrote Cuffee. “We must act now like what Jesus did when he ministered to the multitudes and told Peter and the disciples to provide for the people at the end of their meeting. What they had, Jesus blessed it and it was multiplied and fed the people. If we can have a little amount to help these people and buy food, I know the Lord will surely bless the giver and bring more lost souls into His Kingdom.”
Since 1986, Cuffee and his coworkers have labored to bring the message of Christ to unreached tribes in remote regions of Liberia. They have planted hundreds of churches, provided care for hundreds of orphaned children before placing them in loving households, and opened a clinic to provide medical care to the many who are without access to a hospital.
After planting churches in distant villages, James takes care to provide regular leadership training to pastors and leaders. He travels frequently to hold seminars and evangelistic meetings. For many years, the ministry van provided transportation for James and his coworkers. However, several months ago, the van’s engine failed, creating a great challenge for this active ministry.
James Cuffee walks seven hours after vehicle breaks down.
The journey to reach the Ivory Coast refugees was fraught with difficulty, as two of the vehicles Cuffee and his team rented broke down, one of which left them stranded in the middle of a jungle for two days without food, sleeping on the dirt road amidst the mosquitoes. The team spent hours on foot to reach their destination. When the owner of the first vehicle refused to refund their money, the missionaries used the last of their funds to rent motorcycles to transport the materials from the vehicle to the refugee settlement.
While there, one of the missionaries was poisoned by angry idol worshippers who were threatened by the gospel message. He leaves behind a wife and five children.
Cuffee reports that more than 400 people accepted Christ as Savior, including 56 Muslims, as a result of their work.
Please pray for $15,000 needed to purchase another sturdy ministry vehicle. Pray also for the means to feed and share the gospel with the large number of Ivory Coast refugees who have settled in Liberia from neighboring Ivory Coast due to the recent civil strife and violence ($30 each for a sack of corn, beans, or rice and $10 per Bible).