More than 1,500 Muslims in the Central African Republic (CAR) owe their life to a Catholic priest, Father Bernard Kinvi, who helped them and others escape brutal deaths in a nation struggling with violence between Muslims and Christians. Father Bernard is a candidate to win a $1 million humanitarian award, the Aurora Prize for Awakening Humanity.
The Togo native became a priest at 19 and established a church and hospital in Bossemptee, CAR. When civil war began in 2012 between Muslim Seleka rebels and a Christian anti-balaka (anti-machete) militia, Bossemptee was the sight of a gruesome struggle in 2014.
Father Bernard offered medical assistance and safe refuge for both wounded Muslims and Christians, helping many evacuate to Cameroon. His care for victims on both sides of the controversy led to his nomination for the the Aurora Prize.
Based in Armenia, the Aurora Prize is a new global award that will be given annually to individuals who put themselves at risk to enable others to survive, according to ArmeniaNow.com.
“When I became a priest, I undertook to serve the sick even if it meant putting my life in danger,” Father Bernard said. “I said that, but I didn’t really know what it meant. “But when the war came, I understood what it means to risk your life. Being a priest is about more than giving blessings; it’s about standing with those who have lost everything. “I did not check their religion,” the priest said of those he helped. Father Bernard is one of four nominated for the Aurora Prize, which will be announced April 24, 2016.
Pray for the ministry of Father Bernard in CAR,for his protection, and the thousands recovering from war.