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2021 WORLD WATCH LIST #40

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO

 

 

Country rank 40
Persecution score 64.14
Last year’s rank 57
Region Africa
Persecution Type Islamic oppression (Very strong), Organized corruption and crime (Strong), Dictatorial paranoia (Medium), Ethno-religious hostility (Medium)
Persecution Level Very High
Population 89,505,000
Christians 85,120,000 (95.1%) Data source: Johnson T M and Zurlo G A, eds., World Christian Database (Leiden/Boston: Brill, accessed February 2020).
Main Religion Christianity
Government Semi-Presidential Republic
Leader President President Felix Tshisekedi

Open Doors supports the persecuted church in Congo DR through prayers.

ABOUT CONGO DR

What does persecution look like in Democratic Republic of the Congo?

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. 

How women experience persecution

Congolese Christian women are vulnerable to abduction, rape, sexual torture and forced labor. Christian women may be forcibly married, forcibly impregnated or forcibly divorced. These forced marriages are often early marriages, as sources report that elderly Muslim men often prefer young Christian girls. 

Certain terrorist groups seek Islamization through violent means, forcibly marrying abducted women to militia leaders. Young girls are also recruited through non-violent means, including through targeted seduction by young Muslim men.  

Due to the shame of sexual violence, Christian women and girls may face isolation and rejection from their families and communities following an attack. In the local culture, it is believed that rape causes “contamination,” both physically as well as mentally—a belief that causes some husbands to reject their wives altogether. 

How men experience persecution

Congolese Christian men face violent and extreme forms of persecution, including maiming, abduction, forced recruitment into militia groups, forced labor, sexual mutilation, disemboweling and brutal killings. To escape their kidnappers, men may be forced to pay large ransoms; these fines paralyze already struggling families, sentencing them to live out the next few years in poverty. Even without punitive ransoms, Christian men reportedly face discrimination in the workplace and, in some cases, are denied the opportunity to work. The targeting of Christian men in these ways also serves to weaken their families, as well as the wider church. 

What has changed this year?

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.  

Who is most vulnerable to persecution?

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. 

How can I help Christians in Democratic Republic of the Congo

Pray

-Attacks by Islamic extremists have brought great suffering to the general population, including large numbers of Christians. People’s lives were totally disrupted as they faced the death of loved ones, being uprooted from their homes and the destruction of livelihoods. Pray for the Lord’s abundant grace to the church in this area as they seek to minister Christ’s hope in these circumstances. It is hard to provide even the most basic of needs. Please pray for the Lord’s provision, strength and hope. 

-Pray that those coming to terms with the loss of loved ones would experience the Lord’s comfort to them. Many have been kidnapped. Please pray they will be returned safely. Pray for more effective and successful strategies for military operations aimed at uprooting the ADF and other violent militia from their strongholds. 

Pray God would touch the hearts of the ADF militants. Ask that He would turn them from violence and they would see the true face of the Prince of Peace.  

A PRAYER FOR THE DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF THE CONGO 

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.  

Your gift today will show our persecuted brothers and sisters from the countries in the World Watch List know that they are loved and remembered by you.