There are around 90.6 million Christians in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), which is 95% of the country’s population of 95.2 million people. Even though most of the country is Christian, believers are increasingly vulnerable to persecution.
The eastern part of DRC is a dangerous place for Christians right now. Rebel groups are fighting for control of the area, including an Islamic extremist group, known as the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), which openly and brutally targets Christian homes and churches.
Christians in this area live with the threat of kidnapping, and terrible violence is commonplace. The ADF kidnaps women, rapes them and forces them to marry their soldiers, with Christian women sometimes being kept as a kind of 'trophy'.
People who have become Christians from Muslim or indigenous backgrounds face pressure to still participate in traditional religious activities. At the most extreme end of the scale, women who have converted to Christianity may be forcibly married, impregnated or divorced. Throughout DRC, Christian leaders who speak out against corruption experience harassment and interference from the government.
There is little chance of justice through the legal system in DRC. Many Christians have been forced to flee their homes and seek refuge in friendlier villages. Open Doors partners are providing emergency aid for displaced people through local churches.
“With the brothers who come to console us, we have the hope that God is with us, and will continue with us till the end.” Esther, whose husband was killed by suspected Islamic militants.
“I felt deep pain that one cannot bear.” Those were the words Esther shared in the wake of the tragic death of her husband, Pastor Isaac, in November 2021.
His body was discovered hanging from a tree in North Kivu province in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Local Christians suspect Pastor Isaac, aged 33 at the time, was targeted by Islamic militants because of his efforts to tell his community about Jesus.
“We continue to thank you very much all those who care about us,” Esther said of the practical, spiritual and emotional support provided by Open Doors local partners.
“I still go to church, but when I do, I think a lot about my husband, because he was always seated at the pulpit”, she continues. “I know I am weak in my spiritual life because I have difficulty reading the Bible, difficulty praying. But despite all the ups and downs of life, there is one passage that always comes back to me and strengthens me. It is the passage from Romans 8:39 which says: ‘Nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus’.”
Yes. Violence remains rampant, and pressure against Christians has slightly increased in the past year, particularly in church life. This reflects the threats from Islamic militants, particularly in the east of the country where churches have been under repeated attack. Organised crime and corruption also make church and community life extremely difficult.
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 training, economic empowerment projects and trauma care.
Father God, we long to see an end to the violence and lawlessness affecting Christians in eastern DRC. Please help the authorities to bring a lasting peace. We pray for great wisdom and courage for the church leaders there as they minister to the traumatised and displaced and advise their people how to face this persecution. Bring Your healing to all those who have suffered. Amen.
Your support helps persecuted Christians continue to courageously follow Jesus.
Together, we can reach those where persecution hits hardest.