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Ivory Coast: Christians Facing Terror

Religious Liberty Prayer List – No. 191 – Wed 16 Oct 2002

***** PLAN TO PARTICIPATE IN IDOP – 10/17 NOVEMBER 2002 ***** * The International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church * * For resources and links to national websites – * * http://www.idop.org * *************************************************************

————————————- IVORY COAST: CHRISTIANS FACING TERROR ————————————-

The conflict in Ivory Coast (Cote d’Ivoire) is being portrayed in the media as strife over ‘xenophobia’, ‘justice’ and even democracy. However, there is far more to this conflict than initially meets the eye. It is strongly religious (and spiritual) in nature, threatening to cripple mission in West Africa and the Church in Cote d’Ivoire.

On 5 August, mission in South Asia was seriously threatened when over 100 predominantly missionaries’ children at the Murree Christian School came under attack by heavily armed Islamist militants (who later blew themselves up). Satan’s plan failed and not one child was hurt. Only six weeks later, in mid/late September, mission in West Africa was seriously threatened when some 200 predominantly missionaries’ children’s lives were put at risk by an outbreak of civil conflict right at the International Christian Academy in Bouake. Once again, the children were all delivered unharmed.

The situation for the Church in Cote d’Ivoire is serious and deteriorating daily. Cote d’Ivoire, a centre for mission, sits atop an ethnic and religious fault-line. Muslims live predominantly in the north and Christians predominantly in the south. Muslims make up 27 percent of the Ivorian population, but in recent years the massive influx of immigrants from neighbouring Islamic nations, such as Mali and Burkina Faso, has boosted the Muslim population to over 50 percent.

For many years, prosperous Cote d’Ivoire has maintained a very hospitable policy regarding immigrants. However, the enormous number of immigrants has created economic and land stress. This is not ‘xenophobia’, but simply tension created by there not being enough land and jobs to go around, and the fact that wealth is rapidly leaving the country as immigrant workers send it home. It has also created religious tensions as the Muslims want a Muslim government. The conflict is most severe in central Cote d’Ivoire where Muslim immigrants now vastly outnumber the Christian and animist indigenous people of the region. The soldiers who started this conflict are northern Muslims who had been expelled from the army for alleged disloyalty. They attempted a coup and are seeking a change of government. They want their strong-man, Alassane Ouattara, a Muslim, in power.

Christians in rebel-held areas are at severe risk as they generally are loyal to President Gbagbo, a Christian. The rebel soldiers have been arming local Muslims and sending them out to murder ‘loyalists’ (Christians). Many have already died, some burned to death. Around 150,000 have fled Bouake. In rebel-held areas, villages that are predominantly Christian are being held captive by the rebels and food and water cannot get in. There is much terror and very little assistance.


* God to restore peace to Cote d’Ivoire, for the sake of his Church and mission in West Africa, ‘that Satan may not outsmart us. For we are very familiar with his evil schemes’. (2 Cor 2:11 NLT)

* all Christians trapped and in immediate serious risk in central Cote d’Ivoire; may the Lord be their Mighty One, ‘like a wide river of protection that no enemy can cross’. (Isaiah 33:21 NLT). May he ‘frustrate the plans of the wicked’. (Ps 146:9 NLT)


* EXTRA PRAYER REQUEST: INDIA – There will be peaceful protests on Saturday 19 October against the Tamil Nadu ordinance effectively outlawing religious conversion, issued on 5 October. Pray for peace and safety. WEA RLC information about this ordinance can be found at <http://www.worldevangelical.org/persec.htm>.

* CHINA UPDATE – The re-trial of South China Church leaders and members resulted in the five who had been sentenced to death (including Pastor Gong Shengliang) having their sentences commuted to life imprisonment. VOM reports that four women who were released after the re-trial have since been re-arrested and sent for three years of ‘re-education through labour’. Justice has not been served. Please pray for justice and perseverance.


The situation in Ivory Coast (Cote d’Ivoire) is extremely serious. Massive immigration from surrounding Islamic nations has produced a Muslim majority. The strife is especially serious in central Cote d’Ivoire where Muslim immigrants now vastly outnumber the traditional animist and Christian people who have lived there for centuries. The conflict is about Muslims wanting a change of government to bring the Muslim strong man, Dr. Ouattara, to power. Rebel soldiers who attempted a coup are arming Muslims in rebel- held areas to attack and kill ‘loyalists’ (Christians). Towns and villages that are predominantly Christian are being held captive by the rebels. Many have already been killed and some 150,000 have fled to the government-held predominantly Christian south. Please pray against this ‘melt-down’ in what has been a centre for mission and Church growth in West Africa.

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The WEA Religious Liberty Commission sponsors this RL Prayer List to help individuals and groups pray specifically and regularly for religious liberty issues, and in particular to uphold the Church where it is suffering persecution.

RL Prayer is moderated by Ron Clough, a commissioner of the WEA RLC and convenor of the Australian EA RLC.

Elizabeth Kendal researched and authored this message.


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