DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO — Stephanie* was 18 years old when members of the ADF, an Islamic extremists group in the Democratic Republic of Congo, targeted her town. After five months in captivity, she escaped and walked to freedom. Although she is still recovering from her ordeal, she can still see God’s provision in her life.
*Name changed for security reasons
It was 11pm. They arrived at the door, knocked and said, “Open up for us, open up for us.” Mama said, “No, I can’t open the door for you tonight.”
The eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo is a dangerous place for Christians. Stephanie was 18 years old when members of the ADF, an Islamist extremist group, targeted her town.
Her mother had been killed when she was only 10 and she was now living with her aunt, whom she called Mama.
The men broke the windows, the door. The windows broke and they opened the door for themselves and came in. When they found them, they made two of the girls sit on the floor, and Mama They shot her with bullets.
They shot three times. After they shot her, she fell and they thought she was already dead. And then we were taken. They picked us up from the house. They discovered where each of us was hiding. They pulled us out and took us outside.
Altogether, 18 of us were caught from the same neighborhood. Only a few doors, not many, but 18 people. Some of them stayed behind killing people while we left. They said, “Don’t be afraid, you will have no problem, only that no one try to escape. If you flee, we will kill you.”
Stephanie was held in a camp, where the extremists tried to force their captives to become Muslims. They were made to attend classes, and had to learn prayers in Arabic.
It was compulsory. You could not refuse. Once you got there, you had to become a Muslim. They said, “You can choose. If you don’t like it, you can step aside and we will kill you. It’s up to you. Are you ready to be a Muslim.”
I felt discouraged. I did not think God was there. I thought that he had closed his eyes. But God proved me wrong. He helped me to escape, proving that he really saw me.
After five months in captivity, Stephanie and another girl escaped and walked to freedom. But life is a struggle. Stephanie found that her aunt had survived the attack, but her injuries prevent her from working.
When I’m in church, I’m fine. I feel good. But when I’m alone, that’s when it hurts.
Since that day, Mama has become paralysed. We are the ones who help her now, but we have nothing like a job. We go and help on people’s farms in exchange for something to eat. And we are given things by our neighbours too, like cassava flour.
We say, we have food today and some tomorrow. You get a bunch of bananas and you say, ‘For the day, that’s it.’ We eat by God’s grace.
*Name changed for security purposes.
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For over 60 years, Open Doors UK has worked in the world’s most oppressive countries, empowering Christians who are persecuted for their beliefs. Open Doors equips persecuted Christians in more than 60 countries through programs like Bible & Gospel Development, Women & Children Advancement, and Christian Community Restoration.