A year after a church bombing by Islamic militants killed 15 Christians, this church community in Kasindi, DRC, continue to praise God.
“They came to exterminate us, but our faith can’t diminish,” says Neema* with determination. She knows what it means to count the cost of her faith in Jesus. Her four-year-old son was killed when their church in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) was attacked by Islamic militants on 15 January 2023 during a baptism service. Her other son lost an eye, and Neema was also seriously injured. At the anniversary of this horrific attack, Neema was among the church members standing strong – boldly praising God and continuing to serve Him.
"They came to exterminate us, but our faith can’t diminish." Neema
“People stared at us in wonder as we marched on the streets of Kasindi to celebrate the victory of Christ in praise and worship,” shares Pastor Kambale, who helps lead the 8e CEPAC church that was attacked by Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), a militant group with links to so-called Islamic State, which also claimed responsibility for the attack. “They marvelled that, even though God’s people were killed and wounded by the ADF, fear did not overpower them. The ADF cannot stop God’s people from doing His work.”
The 8e CEPAC church organised several days of outreach in the lead up to the anniversary of the attacks. These activities were held in the same location of the devastating attacks, and survivors of the bombing were among those continuing to share the good news of Jesus. “God fights for us, but we cannot reduce our faith but take a step forward,” says Neema. “God helps us… we can't leave His Word because of wounds.”
The church is in Kasindi, in the eastern DRC. While 95% of the population of DRC are Christians, believers in the eastern part of the country face increasing risk from militant violence and DRC is currently number 41 on the World Watch List. The region is home to more than 100 armed groups, some of whom specifically target follows of Jesus. Three bombs were planted in the church compound, though only one of them detonated. Among the 15 people killed were four children, and 71 believers were injured.
"Christians gathered their courage and came to praise and worship God." Duie Merci
“The goal of these Islamic terrorists was to close the doors of the church,” says Pastor Kambale. After the bombing, the congregation were understandably very fearful and unsure about meeting together. However, local believers have taken refuge in God’s love and were quickly determined to continue meeting together to worship and pray. “God's servants saw His hand in Kasindi,” says Duie Merci, an evangelist at the church. “Christians gathered their courage and came to praise and worship God after the attack. I saw that Christians in Kasindi have faith in God.”
Amazingly, the church has even grown in number. “The enemy planned to destroy God’s house, but the church has grown,” says Pastor Ki Abraham. “In January 2023, our church counted 998 Christians. Currently (January 2024), we have 1300 active members. To God be the glory!”
Local Open Doors partners visited the church in the week after the attack, to encourage and pray with them, as well as visiting survivors in hospital. Thanks to your prayers and support, these partners are able to continue standing with the courageous church community.
In March 2023, Open Doors gave much-needed relief support to 107 families from the church – some of whom had lost family members to the attack, and others who’d been present. These parcels included large amounts of rice, beans and oil as well as some money. Since this provision, survivors (including church leaders) have also been receiving monthly trauma healing sessions.
The relief was more than a food package to the church family in Kasindi. Rev. Kambale explains that, because of the incident, people feared even stepping foot in the church compound. The support changed that – as well as helping with livelihoods, it also encouraged the congregation to meet together again.
Joys Musavuli is one of the believers who found it too painful to go back to church. Her 11-year-old son, Muyisa, was killed by the explosion. The gift of a Bible from Open Doors partners is helping her in the process of healing.
"We continue to thank the brothers and sisters who stayed by our side to accompany us." Pastor Kambale
Her husband, Jean Baptiste, shares: “Since the attack, she has not gone to church. When she saw the Bible, she was so happy and comforted. She reads the Bible very often now, and I see God's Word gradually comforts her even if she is not yet fully recovered. I pray that God helps us understand His will.”
“We continue to thank the brothers and sisters who stayed by our side to accompany us,” says Pastor Kambale. “Thanks to them we are still alive.”
Please keep praying for this community as they continue to heal, and praise God for their faith, their resilience and their determination to keep worshipping and sharing the good news of Jesus Christ.
*Name changed for security reasons
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