An enormous percentage of the population of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) are Christians – 85.1 million from a population of 89.5 million – but soaring violence is one of the reasons it’s now in the World Watch List Top 50.
The Islamic extremist group Alliance for Democratic Forces (ADF-NALU) is responsible for the persecution of Christians in the eastern part of the country, attacking Christians and churches. The attacks from the ADF and other militant groups in DRC are why violence is a huge risk for the Christian population and churches in the regions where militants are active. The violence has resulted in more than a million internally displaced people. Additionally, followers of Jesus are at risk for kidnappings, torture, murder, forced recruitment into militia groups, forced labour and having their homes destroyed. Christian women are vulnerable to rape and sexual slavery.
Converts, both from Islam and from tribal religions, face pressure to take part in non-Christian religious activities and ceremonies. Representatives of the Catholic Church, who publicly urged the government to abide by the constitutionally mandated electoral deadlines, reported they had experienced verbal harassment and interference based on their advocacy. The previous president of DRC illegally remained in office years after his term was supposed to expire.
“We heard gunshots everywhere, so we fled… we took nothing with us.” Mama Tesili
Mama Teseli is a Christian widow, and one of the 1.6 million people who have been displaced in DRC. Suspected members of ADF attacked her village in 2014, and she fled to a camp for internally displaced people. For five years, she tried to cope in those circumstances with her children. There was some community there. But last year, Islamic militants attacked the camp. Nine Christians were murdered.
“It was at night. We heard gunshots everywhere, so we fled … we took nothing with us.” She is in another camp now, but the conditions are really hard. “We live here in the open. No beds, under the rain and sun. It is really difficult. With all this suffering, I just remember what my husband used to say: God is in control. He will wipe away my tears. My husband taught me how to read the Word of God, and He tells me to give thanks in all situations, and that is what I do. It helps me.”
The believers in the camp have had to leave everything behind – many don’t even have enough clothes to wear, so the women are ashamed to appear in public. Some children even have to attend Sunday school without any clothes. Thankfully, your gifts and prayers meant that Open Doors partners could deliver aid to the camp – food, clothes and other essentials.
Yes. Last year, DRC was outside the Top 50, but has risen 17 places. Its sharp rise reflects the extreme violence inflicted on the Christian community of DRC. The violence Christians face in this country is among the worst in the world, and it is only the (relatively) low levels of persecution in other spheres of life that mean DRC isn’t even higher on the World Watch List.
Please keep praying for your brothers and sisters in DRC. Your gifts and prayers make an enormous difference to those following Jesus no matter the cost.
Open Doors works through local partners to support Christians in DRC through persecution survival and discipleship training, economic empowerment projects and trauma care.
Lord, we pray for Your people in DRC. We ask that You would protect them from the brutalities and atrocities inflicted on so many people. We ask that You would tame the hearts of the ADF and other militant groups – bringing a spirit of repentance that only You can. We also pray for converts who face more pressure for their decision to follow Jesus to know Your love and strength. Amen.
Your support helps persecuted Christians continue to courageously follow Jesus.
Together, we can reach those where persecution hits hardest.