The Christian Council of the The Gambia on Saturday, March 5 organized what it called Nation Day of Prayers. The event was held at the Independent Stadium in Bakau and all three Christian denominations in the country were in attendance. According to those present, this was the largest congregation they have ever seen in that country, a lot of Muslims were also in attendance as a show of solidarity with a people coming under siege because of their faith.
This event came on the heels of some troubling developments in that country not ever seen or felt throughout its history. The President, Yahya Jammeh who rules this country of 1.9 million people, 85-90% of which identify themselves as Muslim, with an iron fist has a penchant for using his terrorized people as pawns in schemes that most of the times only he can explain. The Christians have recently been the ones on the receiving end of this continuing madness. First, he declared the country and Islamic State, to the consternation of both Christians in the country and the International community, then, proceeded to issue directives that forced the Christians to start adhering to Islamic dressing. Of course every observer agrees this is a just a ploy by him to get funds from Arab states because all financial aid coming from European sources have dried up due to his lack of adherence to basic human rights for his people. This according to them is after all the man who openly worships idols and engages in rituals considered heresy in Islam.
These actions and many others prior it – all meant to sow seeds of division between the Muslim majority and the Christian minority for his own political gain, have forced the usually sympathetic Christian community (Yahya was raised by Christians and has family members who are Christians too) to feel alienated and as a result started distancing themselves from him and his regime. With trepidation growing among them, and knowing the direction the president is going will eventually see them completely wiped out of the country they call home, the leaders in the churches have started voicing out their frustrations and fears. Reverend Edward Gomez was the first who delivered a sermon that called for tolerance towards the Christian minority among other serious concerns. The video of that sermon was shared widely on social media by activists, human rights defenders, and social commentators who felt the time is here for the Christian leaders to finally speak up before it is too late.
So this event at the Independent Stadium came as no surprise, and the tone of the speakers speaks volumes as to the degree to which the Christians in The Gambia are beginning to feel left of their own country. According to an eye-witness, speakers included Arch Bishop Robert Ellison from the Catholic Mission who began his speech with a question asking; should referees be corrupt? Should they be neutral? This it seems is a direct reference to how the leaders in the majority Muslim country are not treating the Christian minority as equals in their own country. He continued praying that the Lord guide our leaders and judges to remain neutral in order to serve fairly in accordance with the law. The second speaker, Mrs. Bishop Hanna C. Faal-Heim buttressing Bishop Ellison’s earlier remarks, but one seen by observers as a swipe against the Muslim elders like Imam Cherno Kah and others who have as usual decided to be the President’s cheerleaders in these unconstitutional maneuvers, stressed that leaders should speak the truth, and shy away from being hypocrites to President Jammeh. She prayed for such leaders to be guided by the Lord and strengthen their faiths to judge in accordance with the law. Speaking to the general feeling of Christians in the country, she also prayed that no Gambian be treated as refugees in their own country and that each and every one of them be able to associate freely with whatever faith or belief one chooses but yet all of them living in peace and harmony together as one people and one nation. She celebrated the diversity of the Gambia and commended the citizens for having big hearts. In an attempt to calm nerves among the scared Christians, Bishop Fall assured the congregants that Christians and Muslims will continue to work together in the country.
Reverend Priscilla Johnson gave the closing remarks.