How many Christians are there in Mozambique?
Over half of the population of Mozambique are Christians – 19.2 million of the 34 million people living there.
How are Christians persecuted in Mozambique?
Christians in Mozambique face a number of challenges that significantly endanger their freedom and well-being. The rise of Islamic extremism in the north of the country, especially in regions like Cabo Delgado, has had a devastating impact on the lives of believers. Churches have been burnt down, pastors abducted, and many killed. The objective of these groups is to establish a strict Islamic state, and Christians are often targeted as symbols of resistance to this extremist ideology. In addition, Christians are often caught in the crossfire of the ongoing conflict between government forces and jihadist groups, making them even more vulnerable to violence and displacement.
Mozambique has also become a major hub for drug trafficking, with the presence of cartels contributing to a climate of lawlessness and violence, which indirectly affects the Christian community. Church youth workers are particularly at risk, as they are often seen as threats to the cartels. The government also restricts religious freedom, and within families and society believers can face hostility, particularly converts from Islam.
Meet 'Pastor Antonio'
“You have brought real comfort to this community. It gave them hope. Your help has lifted them up spiritually.” Pastor Antonio supports people at a camp for internally displaced persons (IDP) in Cabo Delgado
What’s life like for Christians in Mozambique?
Many Christians are among those displaced by growing insurgency in the Northern Cabo Delgado Province. Pastor Antonio* and Pastor Paulo* are among those providing help, thanks to Open Doors supporters.
Since the first attack in Macimboa da Praia in Cabo Delgado on 5 October 2017, at least 700,000 people (a conservative estimate) have been displaced. Some have even travelled as far as Sofala Province, which is more than 1,000km south of Pemba (Cabo Delgado). Many people have walked hundreds of kilometres and for days on end to flee the insurgency.
Pastor Paulo shares about life in Macimboa da Praia before the insurgency: “Before that first attack, life was fine. Relationships between Christians and Muslims were good. We lived as friends in the same communities… The attack happened on 5 October 2017. The insurgents were dressed in normal pants, but with military shirts. They had Muslim head coverings and wore balaclavas with holes for their eyes and mouths. After this first attack, they left the town, but continued to attack villages. Over time their militias grew in numbers and in fire power.”
Some of these insurgents were men that Pastor Paulo had known ever since they were boys. He’d seen them become disillusioned with empty promises of work, of a future, of having hope. Instead of waiting for politicians to deliver on their promises, they looked for power in a fundamentalist interpretation of Islam. Now, hundreds of thousands are displaced. They have lost everything, and don’t know whom to trust. But they know they can trust these pastors.
“I do this work because I’m affected by their suffering, the pain they go through… The communities in Cabo Delgado are being destroyed, physically and spiritually,” Pastor Antonio says. “When we started this work, it was really hard at the beginning… all the people were really scared when we began asking questions about where they came from and what made them run. Everyone started wondering, ‘If it is happening there, will it come here?’ The community was unhappy about the insurgency. But in all this, since it was God who told us to do this work, it worked out, and we started to work with them.”
The pastors support Christians and Muslims, and are showing the light of Christ to Muslims. “Thanks to your support, we feel like the body of Christ is helping us fellow Christians,” says Pastor Paulo. “But there is more: when Christians from abroad give help to people here, the Muslim people with whom I am sharing the gospel can see that there is true love among Christians.”
*Name changed for security reasons
How can I help Christians in Mozambique?
Please keep praying for your brothers and sisters in Mozambique. Your gifts and prayers make an enormous difference to those following Jesus no matter the cost.
Open Doors supports persecuted Christians in northern Mozambique by providing emergency aid, persecution survival training, and economic empowerment projects.
Lord Jesus, we remember our brothers and sisters in Mozambique who have suffered attacks by Islamic extremists. Surround them with Your comfort and breathe fresh hope into their hearts. Protect Your people in this land and frustrate the plans of militant groups. We pray for greater security and stronger governance in the country, leading to increased protection and freedom for all people, including our persecuted family. Equip Your people with the boldness, wisdom and strength to withstand opposition and be salt and light in their communities. Spirit of the living God, fall afresh on Your people in Mozambique. Amen.