Please pray for a Christian community in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), after least 39 people were killed in a recent spate of attacks.
Christians in parts of DRC are at acute risk of attack by Islamic militants
Christians in the town of Oicha in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) are reeling after at least 39 people, including children, were killed in recent incidents.
On Tuesday (24 October), armed men stormed Masosi, a Christian neighbourhood in Oicha, North Kivu province. “When the people heard gunshots at the beginning, they thought thieves had come into the village, which is not unusual,” shares Mumbere, a local Christian youth leader. “But when the cracking of bullets lasted for an hour, they then knew it was the ADF [Allied Democratic Forces, which has links to so-called Islamic State.]”
At least 35 bodies, including those of 12 children, have been identified. “Many of these people are Christians, they were servants of God, and teachers in our schools," says Reverend Gabriel, a church leader in Oicha. "It is the church that is under attack.”
Two days earlier, on Sunday (22 October), Mumbere Kafukuliro and Mbambu Ndalya – both from the Pastoral School in Oicha – were killed on the way to their farm. Whilst on 4 October, it emerged that Pastor Mbusa Lisasi, a father of six, and his brother Kakule Lisasi had been killed after they had been kidnapped on the way to their farm on 30 September.
Following the latest attack on Tuesday, locals in Oicha took to the streets, carrying corpses of the victims, to protest against insecurity. Schools and markets were closed, with angry communities burning more than 150 tonnes of food from the World Food Programme (WFP) for internally displaced people (IDPs) in the town.
“We don't need humanitarian aid, but we do want security,” one frustrated demonstrator told the media when asked why residents had attacked trucks carrying relief aid. “This is a bad situation,” said Pastor Paluku Bagheni Joseph, a teacher at the Bible college used by Open Doors field contacts.
"Some Christians questioned the safety God promises His children" Field source
“The Christian population of Oicha is in despair and disillusionment,” says a field source. “They are losing hope. It is said that during the protest, some Christians questioned the safety God promises His children. This situation, like previous incidents, can cause Christians to resort to traditional religions in search of protection for their families.”
These incidents are amongst many in the eastern North Kivu province of DRC, making it a place of extreme danger for Christians to live. The country is number 37 on the World Watch List and one of many countries in sub-Saharan Africa facing where believers are experiencing increased persecution by Islamic militants.
The escalating insecurity in the DRC has forced 6.9 million people to be internally displaced, according to the UN's International Organisation for Migration. According to their report, the security situation – particularly in North Kivu and Ituri – continues to deteriorate, bringing more displacement and rising humanitarian needs.
“We call on the whole world to pray for us, for the territory of Beni and for the provinces of North Kivu and Ituri”, adds Reverend Gabriel.
“Really pray for us so that everything (the funerals) can happen in peace, and pray for the situation we are going through, because the fear increased when the enemies entered the city," adds Pastor Paluka, a lecturer at the Biblical Institute in Oicha. "Your prayers are very important to us at this time when we are going through pain."