How many Christians are there in the Central African Republic?
Three-quarters of the population of Central African Republic are Christian (that’s 3.7 million believers) but they are still vulnerable to persecution.
What does persecution look like in Central African Republic?
The Central African Republic has seen near-constant conflict and fighting since 2013. Much of the country is occupied by various armed militia groups, who are responsible for a range of human rights abuses. Many of these groups—whether Islamic extremist or otherwise—specifically target Christians, so life is constantly uncertain for believers in the areas under militia control.
Christian leaders who have publicly denounced the violence have been threatened; church buildings have been burned and ransacked. The conflict has resulted in the displacement of thousands of Christians who have lost their homes and livelihood, now forced to live in displacement camps.
In addition to the insecurity and violence that all Christians suffer from, converts to Christianity from Islam also face persecution from their immediate family members. The local community will often ostracize Christian converts and might also try to force them to renounce Christianity through violence.
Persecution is most severe in the northern and eastern parts of the country, where the Muslim population dominates and splinter-groups from Séléka (an alliance of rebel militia groups) are operating. There are also particular difficulties for Christians in the eastern part of the country that borders Sudan. Additionally, Christians who convert from Islam are doubly vulnerable because of both the general violence against believers, as well as intense pressure from family and community.
“If I should one day meet the Muslim man who shot the grenades at my church, I will not be angry. I will smile. I do not even have the heart to hurt him. I think that he doesn’t really know how terrible it is what he has done. I will greet him and say, ‘God forgives you, and He wants me to forgive you too. You do not know what you have done to me, but I forgive you.’”Jeovani
Praise God, Central African Republic fell 10 spots from the 2020 World Watch List. Much of this is due to a lessening in the pressure for Christians in their private lives. This may be because many of the rebel groups who target Christians also fight each other. But this doesn’t mean Christians are safe from persecution and discrimination in CAR. Unfortunately, violence against followers of Jesus remains extreme, making faith in Christ a dangerous prospect for many in CAR.
Open Doors has been involved with the church in Central Africa for a number of years. Starting in 2013, our programs were dominated by support to the church in crisis following a coup by an Islamic-majority group. We have been working to not only highlight the plight of the church in the country, but also assist the church to provide emotional and physical relief to Christians targeted in violence. We support the church in CAR by helping with training, relief assistance and medical aid, financial support, reconstruction of churches and help with business ventures.
- Pray for followers of Jesus who are targeted by various groups in violent attacks. Islamic extremists, organized criminal militias, radical followers of animist faiths, all these groups single out Christians for attack. Pray God will protect these believers and keep them safe.
- Pray for peace in Central Republic of Africa, and that God would touch the hearts of leaders of every group.
- Pray for converts from Islam, that they would be protected from oppression at the hands of their families and communities. Pray they would be able to find Christians who could help them grow and mature in their faith.
God, we come before You to ask You to sustain and spare our family—Your children— in Central African Republic. We pray against violence and the tools of the Enemy; we ask that You would bring Your peace to CAR and that every person fighting would see the peace You offer. We pray for believers who are forced to keep their faith secret, that You would grow their faith even as they follow You behind closed doors. Through Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirt, now and forever, Amen.