Vision Logo Circle
Vision Logo Circle

Forgotten War on Christians

by | Sat, Mar 16 2024

Text size: A- A+

More than 80,000 Christians have been driven from their homes by Islamic State-affiliated terrorists in northern Mozambique. The insurgency had calmed down last year, but has re-intensified in the resource-rich Cabo Delgado region this year despite the disbursement of peacekeeping troops from Rwanda and southern Africa. The Mozambican military claimed in mid-December claimed that 90% of Cabo Delgado had been secured, but independent analysts warned the jihadists had merely made a tactical retreat and would strike back.

Todd Nettleton from Voice of the Martyrs told Mission Network News that more than 70 children are still missing, prompting fears that they have been conscripted to Islamic State training camps. “There have been 11 churches burned in the last couple of weeks in northern Mozambique; you have pastors whose lives are being threatened, You have terrorists stopping buses at checkpoints and going passenger by passenger [to ask,] ‘Are you a Christian or a Muslim?’ and executing those who are Christians and refuse to accept Islam on the spot,” Mr. Nettleton revealed..

The Roman Catholic Bishop of Pemba in northern Mozambique Antonio Juliasse confirmed that the situation is growing worse. “The violence perpetrated in this district in the last two weeks was such that around a dozen villages, some very populous, were targeted, with the destruction of homes and institutions. All Christian chapels were destroyed.”

The bishop noted that many people fled for their lives carrying just “a bundle on their head or on the only family bicycle. It’s all they have left now. It will certainly not be long before hunger, thirst and disease arrive.”

Both Bishop Juliasse and Mr. Nettleton say that despite the atrocities, wars in Ukraine and Gaza continue to overshadow Mozambique in the global headlines, leaving recent events largely unnoticed.

According to the United Nations High Commission For Refugees (UNHCR), at least two million people have been forced to flee from their homes since fighting broke out in the region in 2017. At least 5,000 have been killed. The European Commission estimates that 3.5 million people are faced with the prospect of acute food insecurity in northern Mozambique.

Mr. Nettleton called on Christians to pray for their fellow believers caught up in the insurgency. “I hope our [readers] will pray for God’s protection, pray for encouragement, pray for that sense of calling to be so deep and so strong that they know exactly what the Lord is asking them to do.”

He revealed that despite the natural inclination to flee, many Christians feel God is calling them to stay: “It would make a lot of sense from an earthly perspective to flee, to go someplace safer. Yet we know God is calling some of them to stay there.”