A church leader and his wife have been abducted by members of the ADF during a worship service; during the attack, their two children were killed. Please pray for our church family in DRC, and for the safe return of all who’ve been taken.
In January, ADF militants killed 26 people and abducted more than 30 from the north east region (imnage is illustrative)
Christians in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) are calling for ‘fervent prayer’ after an attack on a church saw the pastor and his wife abducted and their children killed.
On 30 January, the lead pastor of the Eglise Message du Temps Church, his wife and an unconfirmed number of Christians were abducted in Bayeti, Ituri Province, in the north east of DRC. During the attack, which took place in the middle of a worship service, five others were killed – including the pastor’s two children.
This latest tragedy is part of a growing trend in DRC which is seeing more frequent attacks on Christian communities by the Islamic extremist group Allied Democratic Forces (ADF).
Between 28-30 January, the ADF killed at least 12 Christians in a series of attacks on the Mangadola, Makodu, Mangazi and Matadi villages. The militants, armed with guns and machetes, killed Christians while they were working on their farms. For many, farming is their main source of income.
“Christians cannot go to their farms anymore. We are now landlocked in Oicha; the cost of living is very, very expensive, God help us,” lamented Pastor Paluku, a pastor and teacher at the Oicha Bible Institute.
“This umpteenth attack on the village of Bayeti has led to the closure of the church,” says Jean-Paul, a Christian and member of the local civil society. “Most of the population had fled for Oicha, which was deemed safe. Now the situation has worsened. The young people from Oicha went to these villages on 31 January 2024 to collect the bodies and put them in the mortuary of the Oicha General Hospital.
ADF attacks have been recorded spanning from 8 January 2024 onwards, with 26 people known to have been killed and more than 30 people abducted. In some cases, the ADF even attacked communities in mourning. Some Christians, no longer feeling safe at home, are resorting to sleeping in open spaces with almost no protection.
“This latest incident is just another example of the ongoing violence against the church in north east DRC,” says Jo Newhouse, an Open Doors spokesperson for the sub-Saharan region. “The DRC has nearly seven million people who are displaced, with around five million concentrated in the eastern part of the country, according to the UN. The continued weak rule of law has enabled violence, including abductions, detentions, and murders to continue with impunity. The scale of attacks is alarming: Christian villages have been burned down; pastors, priests, and lay Christians are abducted almost every week, and untold suffering has been inflicted on Christian communities by the ADF and other armed factions.”
In ADF-controlled areas, expression of Christian faith is dangerous. Members of the group harass, abduct, and kill believers wearing Christian symbols or those meeting for fellowship. Children are abducted from school, forced to convert to Islam and married off to members of the ADF.
“We call on the worldwide body of Christ to commit the church in eastern DRC to fervent prayer,” Jo continues. “Open Doors continues to provide practical and spiritual support to affected Christians and churches and to advocate for them. We urge the government to fulfil its international obligation and its duty to protect civilians. We also urge the government, its international partners and the global community to acknowledge the scale of the problem and urgently work to address root causes.”
“We ask brothers and sisters around the world to pray for the consolation of afflicted families and implore God’s mercy for the return of peace to the territory of Beni,” asks Pastor Paluku. “Pray for the survival of Christians trapped in the community of Oicha. Pray for the resilience of the Christians of Ngite, Mangodola, Makodo, Mangazi and Matadi.”
Find out more about what it’s like to be a Christian in DRC, as well as places like North Korea, China, Nigeria and Nicaragua, with our Top 50 booklet. Also includes inspirational stories, prayer requests and updates from the latest report. The resource is free and you can order as many copies as you’d like!