Your prayer is the most effective weapon to reach out to persecuted believers.
Also see: SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA AND THE CORONAVIRUS: COVID-19 UPDATE PART 1
Below are some information about how each country is affected by and combating the virus, and how you can pray:
Commercial flights from countries affected by the virus have been suspended until further notice, with the exception of cargo flights. Schools have been closed and public gatherings limited. Mali already faces a critical humanitarian situation; women make up over half the number of people who are dependent on humanitarian assistance to meet their basic needs. Over 200,00 people have been internally displaced due to insecurity and inter-communal conflict.
Please pray that aid would reach those who need it, and that God’s presence will be tangible among everyone who is displaced and without a home in Mali at this difficult time.
In March, Ethiopian Airlines, the African continent’s biggest airline, suspended flights to 30 countries and announced that all arriving passengers would face mandatory quarantine. Ethiopia also announced that it would shut its land borders to nearly all human traffic as part of efforts to curb the spread of the coronavirus. Schools have been closed, and religious services have been almost entirely cancelled.
Christians have been affected economically by social distancing rules. Yohannes* (22) is a new believer who has found refuge with Christians after his community expelled him for his faith in Christ. But under Covid-19 restrictions imposed by the government, he is struggling to find enough food to eat as his own family won’t help him.
Please pray that the church will be able to stand strong despite being scattered and unable to meet, and that the country’s efforts to stop the spread of the virus would be effective.
Kenya’s government has suspended travel from any country with reported Covid-19 cases; any travellers are placed into quarantine on arrival. In the event of a potential spread of Covid-19 to refugee camps, there is high concern that large numbers of people will be infected due to crowded living conditions and poor access to health, water, and sanitation services. According to UNHCR (the United Nations refugee agency), food distribution plans have been revised to deliver rations in two-month distribution cycles, rather than monthly or fortnightly, in order to reduce social contact.
Please pray that God would protect refugees living in the camps from the virus, and that, despite less-frequent deliveries, no one would go hungry or without the right medical care.
In March, the Cameroon government shut down land, air and sea borders indefinitely; all international flights have been grounded except for cargo planes. More than 100,000 Nigerian refugees who fled the Boko Haram insurgency are living in Minawao refugee camp or in host communities throughout the region, but there are currently no details of any plans regarding a coronavirus strategy.
In the north, Boko Haram is forcing people to flee into the mountains or to camps in other towns where it will be very hard to protect themselves against coronavirus.
Please pray that God will be close to and provide for the Nigerian refugees living in the refugee camps, and that He would grant wisdom to the leaders and healthcare experts responsible for creating a strategy to combat the virus.
Boko Haram is targeting people in Cameroon’s Far North, forcing them to flee into the mountains or to camps in other towns where it will be very hard to protect themselves against COVID-19 / coronavirus and continue feeding their families amid the economic impact of the violence and the pandemic.
So far, Niger has over 600 reported cases and 20 deaths. The government has isolated the capital Niamey from the rest of the country, declared a state of emergency and imposed a dusk till dawn curfew. The measures were extended until April 25 and places of worship and schools remain closed. There are grave concerns over violence in remote areas, as well as in the capital.
On 19 April, there were reports of clashes in the capital over the government’s preventative curfew. Fr. Mauro Armanino, a missionary of the Society of African Missions told the Fides Catholic news service, “There have been scenes of urban guerrilla warfare for several days in Niamey…In both cases, the police intervened to disperse the demonstrators”. There is also one report of intimidation against a pastor, with stones having been hurled at his house, located next to his church.
Please pray that closing the borders will be an effective strategy in curbing the virus and that God would protect believers from violence.
OPEN DOORS AFRICA DIRECTORS: “THANK YOU FOR YOUR PRAYERS”
Sulieman says, “We thank you for your continued prayers and support for the persecuted church of our Lord Jesus Christ here in West Africa. The Covid-19 situation poses a threat and a challenge to us; many of our widows, those in the IDP (internally displaced persons) camps and other vulnerable believers, are really relying on support from us to be able to continue to live. It’s a challenge at this time, but we trust the Lord as we stand together, that He will help find solutions to these issues.
“We want you to know that we appreciate your prayers and your support, and that it means a lot to the Body of Christ here in West Africa, even in this season when we are all facing the challenge with the Covid-19. Please continue to pray. And we also pray that the Lord will bless you.”
Open Doors’ director for East Africa, Yasin*, also stated: “This season of the coronavirus pandemic is a very uncertain and difficult time for the persecuted church in our region in many ways. Your prayer is the most effective weapon to reach out to the heart of the persecuted believers wherever they are and in whichever condition they are. We know that you are praying already for the persecuted believers in Africa. I would like to encourage you to keep up your fervent prayer. The Word of God in James 5:6 says: ‘Therefore, pray for each other, so that you may be healed.’ The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. Therefore, I would really like to encourage you with this word, to do that more and more…
“Thank you very much for your support and prayers on this. God bless you abundantly. Amen!”
*Names changed for security reasons.