Central African Republic
Central African Republic
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The Central African Republic (CAR) is a land-locked plateau just north of the equator. Starting on the north and circling CAR in a clockwise direction are Cameroon, Chad, Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo and Congo. CAR covers an area of nearly 623,000 sq km (240,500 sq miles). Original inhabitants of the area were forest-dwelling pygmies though their population was greatly reduced by the Bantu and Azande peoples by the time of European exploration. The present population numbers nearly 4 million people. For centuries the region was a source of slaves by African slave-traders from Sudan. Slavery ended when France took control in 1911. From then until independence in 1958 the CAR was administered as a part of French Equatorial Africa. CAR is a republic administered by a single legislative body known as the National Assembly.
Central African Republic is largely a plateau with large areas of savanna. In the south and southeast are found rain forests, home to the lowland gorilla, and the source of hardwoods such as mahogany and ebony. Forestry and subsistence farming are the basis of CAR’s agriculture. Economic prospects are limited because of position, limited resources, unskilled workforce and poor infrastructure. In addition, disease is still widespread.
Religiously speaking Central African Republic has a greater diversity than many African nations. Protestant traditions, the Roman Catholic faith and indigenous beliefs each claim about a quarter of the population with the remaining segment being shared by Islam and other faith traditions.
The beginning of the Stone-Campbell Movement in Central African Republic is due to the efforts of the American a cappella Churches of Christ. At some point in the 1990s a village deep in the bush received a bundle of Bible correspondence courses in Bantu and as a result had come to know Jesus. About twenty-five believers baptized one another. They requested help from a native preacher in organizing themselves into a congregation, a request he forwarded on to the United States. In response to the call for aid William H. Smith and an associate, of West Monroe, Louisiana traveled to the distant land to follow-up on the contact made by the native preacher. On the way to the village Smith and his associate paused at another village to rest. Interested in their visitors the people of this village inquired of their guests the purpose of their travels. As a result the visitors preached the Gospel and some villagers responded and were baptized.
In 1996 Doyle Kee and Hilton Terry traveled to Central African Republic , meeting with denominational representatives, and enrolled one hundred people in correspondence courses. In January of 1998 Kee, Terry and Jean Claude Eti of Cameroon made a follow-up trip to contact Bible correspondence students in Bangui. As a result of this visit three individuals were baptized. The following June eleven workers assembled in Bangui from the United States, Europe and several African countries to conduct an evangelistic campaign. This campaign resulted in thirty-five baptisms and the formation of a congregation. Over the next months several African nationals returned to CAR to teach and encourage growth in the new church. In 1999 Americans Jerry Davidson and Foy Smith made a teaching trip into CAR in order to prepare the way for two Ghanaian families – Bor Worlanyo and Maxwell Opoku – to relocateto Bangui as missionaries.
Clinton J. Holloway
National Profiles Editor
For further historical reference:
Churches of Christ Around the World, Lynn, Mac, 21st Century Christian Publications, Nashville, TN, 2003.
Disciples of Christ Historical Society, 1101 19th Avenue, South, Nashville, TN 37212-2112 (USA)
Telephone: (615) 327-1444
Website: http://www.discipleshistory.org (provides links to other historical sites and databases).
Online catalog: http://voyager.discipleshistory.org
For online directories of a cappella Churches of Christ see:
For a list of many Christian Churches and Churches of Christ (in the United States) missionaries/ministries see:
Mission Services Association
7545 Hodges Ferry Road, Knoxville, TN (USA) 37920
Telephone: 1 (800) 655-8524
Fax: 1 (865) 573-5950