Cut in the heart of Africa, the Central African Republic (C.A.R.) is studded with natural resources. Diamonds compose 40% of the nation's exports, while timber, cotton, coffee and tobacco remain other significant items of trade. Even so, C.A.R. is recognized as one of the least developed nations, and its citizens are some of the world's poorest. Like a gem not yet refined, the Central African Republic has the natural resources to cultivate economic change; the only inhibitors are decades of political instability and unrest.
Upon gaining independence from France in 1960, nearly two decades of oppressive leadership terrorized the Central African Republic. The years that followed were marked by political coups and rapid succession of leaders. These governments had progressive aspirations but were ultimately unable to overcome various rebel forces and past insecurities. Despite advancements, C.A.R. continues to be plagued by opposing rebel forces. The Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), originating in Uganda and Sudan, has troubled the Republic's eastern border since a skirmish in 2009. The north similarly faces rebel movements that are under UN surveillance.
Despite trials and instability, national-level ministry plans exist which encourage interdenominational collaboration, further opening doors for missions and evangelism. The indigenous church in C.A.R. is emerging as an effective Gospel communicator through native Bible translation and sending of national missionaries. Despite this expansion of the Church, widespread evangelism in past decades has failed to produce disciples, which has slowed church growth and caused a lukewarm mentality to infiltrate Christian circles. Discipleship is desperately needed, as are mature leaders who can encourage sincerity and passion for the Gospel. There is also a great need for children's ministries, as nearly half of the population is under the age of 15. Churches and mission agencies face the great challenge and privilege of Gospel engagement, reaching the future of C.A.R. personally through intentional children's programs and evangelism.