What do eight Ugandan Bible school students and their two American professors, two veterinarians from DR Congo and Uganda, a cattle farmer from New Zealand, a 53- year-old single lady, and a Central African pastor have in common? God has been using all of them recently to reach out to the Mbororo, a people group in Central African Republic. The Mbororo are one of the largest unreached people groups in the world and are scattered throughout West and Central Africa.
For more than ten years now, family groups of these nomadic cattle herders have been flooding into the south eastern part of Central African Republic where Aim works in partnership with the local church. Various church leaders and Aim workers have been reaching out to members of this people group since their arrival in the area, especially through the church’s medical work.
But, in 2000 the work among the Mbororo people took a large step forward with the return of one of the pastors, Mboligumbaha Jean-Paul*, after a year of training at an outreach training center in Chad. Jean-Paul started his work among the Mbororo near the church by visiting groups who were living there.
He covered many miles by bicycle and by foot to get acquainted with the Mbororo leaders. Trust and friendships were gained as he spent time among these people – drinking the raw milk they offered him, transporting sick people to a nearby health center on the back of his bicycle, offering them a place to sleep when they came into town, and demonstrating the love of Jesus to these needy people in many practical ways.
From the beginning of his work, Jean-Paul rarely traveled alone. He soon began training several young men from other local churches as they walked and cycled with him to visit various Mbororo encampments. They learned outreach to the Mbororo in hands-on, practical ways.
In November 2000, I arrived in the area and soon made several outings with Jean-Paul to visit groups of Mbororo. These people neither know of nor understand the love of God. They see worship of God as a duty, being obligated to pray and fast and follow various rituals.
They are also bound up with fear of evil spirits as evidenced by the amulets and charms they wear around their necks, waists, wrists and ankles. Spending time sitting with their leaders, holding their babies, drinking their sweet, milky tea, sleeping in their dome-shaped grass huts, and administering eye drops and aspirin are all ways we were able to show God’s love to the Mbororo. Soon ears and minds began opening and Jean-Paul started sharing God’s word with them, and explaining that God is love and light and that in him there is no darkness or fear at all.
In June 2005, several members of Aim leadership visited CAR and made trips to visit groups of Mbororo leaders. In each of the three places they visited, the same needs for clean water, schools for Mbororo children, and medicines for their animals and themselves were evidenced.
It was not until January 2007 that plans for helping meet those needs started coming into place. A team from a Bible school in Kampala, Uganda spent two weeks digging a well and working with school children in a local village where a large Mbororo family group had settled.
The Bible school students quickly engaged themselves in the community as they carried rocks, sand, and gravel; helped with the actual digging of the well; taught at the local school; and showed God’s love to the Mbororo through their lives and their actions. A well was dug with the hopes and prayers that it would help the Mbororo to truly know the living water that Jesus offers to all people.
In April 2007 the second team spent two weeks visiting five different groups of Mbororo. A Congolese veterinary nurse and a Uganda veterinary doctor treated the Mbororo’s cows and horses. As the vets gave injections of vitamins and antibiotics and sprayed the cattle and horses with insect repellent to ward off ticks and tsetse flies, other team members interacted with the Mbororo and shared God’s love with them in various ways.
A New Zealand cattle farmer joined the team to encourage the work among the Mbororo. “I came to share with these people from my experience how they could improve the quality of their cattle,” he said, “but I also came to express an interest in their well-being as a person from a far off land. It was an amazing privilege to be given such an opportunity to show Jesus’ love to these people.”
Through the friendship of Jean-Paul and those working with him, the door is open to interact with many groups of Mbororo in the far east of Central African Republic. The two visiting teams worked in practical ways to meet some of the felt needs of these people. Plans are being developed to continue to support this outreach through various programs for the people and their cattle as well as continued friendship by Jean-Paul and his team. We look forward to the day when such efforts will not only produce clean water and better health for the Mbororo and their animals, but that the seeds of love sown over these last few months and years will bring forth fruit as many Mbororo turn from their religion of fear and darkness into the Light.
* Names have been changed to protect privacy