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 the 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 and having their homes destroyed.
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 the DRC illegally remained in office years after his term was supposed to expire.
Islamic extremists are particularly active in the eastern part of the country. All Christians are at risk in these areas. Additionally, Christians who convert from Islam or from traditional religions (or religions that combine elements of Christianity and animism) may face social, familial and community pressure for their faith.
“It was at night. We heard gunshots everywhere, so we fled … we took nothing with us. [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 … I tell myself 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.”Mama Teseli
The Democratic Republic of the Congo wasn’t even in the top 50 of the World Watch List last year. Its sharp rise reflects the extreme violence inflicted on the Christian community of the DRC. In some parts of the country, Christians are under constant risk of brutal violence, and this is what has pushed the DRC’s rank much higher on the 2021 World Watch List.
Lord, we pray for Your people in the 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. We pray all these things in His name, Amen.