25 April 2023

Pastor Jean in DRC is healing from the trauma he hid from his church

When Pastor Jean’s church was attacked by ADF militants, he and his family suffered emotional and psychological trauma. Pastor Jean felt he had to hide it from the congregation – but thanks to your prayers and support, he and his family are beginning to heal.

Pastor Jean felt he couldn’t reveal how traumatised he was – but he is beginning to heal, thanks to your prayers

When Pastor Jean was transferred to his new church, he was full of hope. He arrived at Beni – a city in the north east of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) – to lead a church of almost 280 people.

There were challenges, of course. For five years, the area had suffered from attacks by an Islamic extremist rebel group, the Allied Democratic Forces (ADF), but he believed God would protect him. “We told ourselves that God will help us.” It was an exciting time and he had big plans. 

Then the ADF arrived.

Gunmen attack Pastor Jean’s house

“At around 11p.m. we heard the first gunshot,” Pastor Jean recalls. “It was right behind us, and I told my wife that we were being attacked.”

It was a terrifying ordeal. From their house in the church compound, they could hear screams and incessant gunfire as the attackers made their way through the village. Then Pastor Jean heard the militants right outside his door. It was clear that they intended to kidnap him. “They started arguing amongst themselves to know whether I was inside or not,” he recalls. “We prayed… ‘God help us.’”

Although around 95% of the population of the DRC are Christian, in the eastern areas, Islamic extremist groups like the ADF openly target Christian homes and churches.  

The attackers tried the door but failed to break in. On the other side, Pastor Jean heard them discuss their plans. Then he heard them step back. There was the sound of a rocket grenade being launched, an explosion and then everything went black.

“We lost consciousness for about 45 minutes,” he remembers. “Lying there like we were already dead.” When dawn came, Pastor Jean went outside to find that fifteen people had been killed, six from his church. Houses and shops had been destroyed and at least 20 people – mainly young girls – were missing. 

Hiding the trauma – and healing from it

“Even if we are persecuted, our tears will be wiped. That is why I have hope.”


Mercifully, Pastor Jean and his family had no wounds. But the emotional and psychological pain ran deep. “We were traumatised,” he says. “Our health was destroyed.” He tried to be strong: “If I showed my congregants that I was traumatised it would be difficult to help them because they would be disappointed,” he said. But it was too hard. He could no longer preach. 

“Even at the funerals, I could not participate because I myself needed help. I had to call on another helper because I had no strength.”

Healing from trauma takes a long time. But, with the right help and support, restoration is possible. Pastor Jean and his family have been helped to relocate to a safer area, where, little by little, God is restoring them. Open Doors partners have provided money to help them start a small business, and he draws strength from knowing that others are praying for him and has been able to start leading a congregation again. And, crucially, he has found some of that hope which he thought he’d lost. 

“The Bible tells us not to be afraid because God is with us,” he says. “That is my consolation, and I often say it in church: even if we are persecuted, our tears will be wiped. That is why I have hope. One day everything will be finished, and we will see Christ.”

  • That God will continue to heal and comfort Pastor Jean and his family
  • For church leaders in DRC – that God will keep them safe and protect their ministry of teaching
  • For Open Doors partners providing trauma care and practical aid to Christians.
Please give
  • Every £16 could give a month’s education to four young people from persecuted families to give them hope for the future
  • Every £28 could mean a believer displaced by persecution receives food, medicine and other emergency relief to help them survive
  • Every £42 could give hope and healing at a trauma centre to three Christians who have experienced extreme violence.

Get involved

Your support helps persecuted Christians continue to courageously follow Jesus. Together, we can reach those where persecution hits hardest.