AFRICA – Christian persecution worsening due to COVID-19

CHVN | Libby Giesbrecht | April 19, 2020

The persecution of Christians for their faith around the world is getting worse during the global COVID-19 pandemic.

According to Open Doors USA, places around the world most vulnerable to the coronavirus also align with places where Christians are treated more harshly for their beliefs.

New forms of persecution

When a 22-year-old man from Ethiopia accepted Christ, he knew his Muslim family would see his change of heart as a betrayal and he would be shunned.

In addition, the man’s community expelled him, because the Tigray region where he lives is a part of the country where Christians are ostracized from society and cut off from accessing community resources.

The man says other believers have helped him, but COVID-19 restrictions have made it even harder to live as a Christian in Ethiopia. He struggles to find enough food to eat with no work and no other resources.

Open Doors USA says hundreds of thousands of believers in sub-Saharan Africa are dealing with worse persecution than ever before because they are left exposed and vulnerable from their decision to follow Jesus during the coronavirus pandemic.

Areas such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Nigeria, Sudan, and Cameroon are places where the virus has been the most deadly. They are also places where life is most difficult for Christ-followers.

Rev. John Joseph Hayab from northern Nigeria says believers are facing new forms of persecution during the pandemic.

“We are facing persecution because of our faith and we are also facing a global pandemic,” Hayab says.

“We run away from our persecution … or we run away from the global sickness that we are facing. We have a double problem.”

But despite these problems, Hayab gives perspective to believers’ trials.

“But in all this, we still come back to remember the Word of Jesus: ‘Be ye of good cheers, for I have overcome the world.’ But He didn’t start with that; He says: ‘In this world, you will have many troubles.’ This is another additional trouble we are facing,” Hayab says.