Islamic militants launched several attacks around the Nampula and Cabo Delgado regions in Mozambique, killing Sister Maria De Coppi, an 84-year-old nun, and others. As violent attacks in the region continue to rise, please pray for Christians there.
An 84-year-old nun and at least five other people have been killed in a series of attacks by so-called Islamic State (IS).
Earlier this week, militants attacked a mission organisation in Chipene, Nampula Province, killing Sister Maria De Coppi, an 84-year-old Italian nun who had served in Mozambique since 1963. Sister Maria was hit by a bullet in the head as she tried to reach the dormitory where a few remaining students of the mission school were present.
The attackers also destroyed the surrounding buildings belonging to the mission, including the church, the hospital, and the primary and secondary school.
IS has claimed responsibility for the attack, saying in a statement that its militants ‘killed four Christians, including an Italian nun’ in northern Mozambique.
At least six people have been killed since 3 September in attacks in Cabo Delgado and Nampula.
“The displaced are… struggling to come to terms with the brutal violence they have had to witness”JO NEWHOUSE, OPEN DOORS SPOKESPERSON
“Our brothers and sisters need fervent prayer”
Chipene is located near the Lúrio river that forms the border between Cabo Delgado and Nampula. Until recently, attacks have occurred mostly in the Cabo Delgado Province, but analysts are noticing that the violence is spreading further south. The increasing attacks are causing whole communities to flee their homes and go into hiding.
Inacio Saure, Archbishop of Nampula, said, “In reality, jihadist groups continue to operate in Cabo Delgado too, but in our province the assaults have forced the population to flee. We do not know how many people have sought refuge in the forest. It is a terrible drama and still difficult to quantify.”
Open Doors’ spokesperson for the region, Jo Newhouse*, commented: “The insecurity has caused massive disruption of the private and church lives of Christians in this region. The displaced are not only struggling to make ends meet daily, but they do so while struggling to come to terms with the brutal violence they have had to witness. Our brothers and sisters affected by these harrowing realities need fervent prayer to remain firm in the faith.”
“The violence is placing the social cohesion between people of different faiths that Mozambique has been known for under immense pressure,” she continued. “To prevent a cycle of distrust to take root, as it often does in situations like these, the international community should not give up on supporting the government in its efforts to address the circumstances and that create opportunity for this insurgency, and its root causes. This will require an holistic approach that goes beyond a mere military solution.”
Mozambique only entered the World Watch List Top 50 last year, at number 45, and has risen several places this year. This is largely because of an increased number of attacks and pressure, particularly in the north.
*Name changed for security reasons
In just one day, Furaia from Mozambique became a widow and a single mother to 14 children. Thanks to your support, Open Doors have been able to provide for her and her children, as well as 328 other families affected by jihadist violence. (Please note that some descriptions may be distressing.)
Furaia (not her real name) witnessed the brutal murder of her husband and brother in Cabo Delgado Province in the north of Mozambique. But she has not had much time to process what happened and the trauma she has suffered because, since that horrible day, she has become the sole breadwinner for 14 children.
“We were all surprised,” Furaia told visiting Open Doors partners. “The attackers rounded us up and forced us to get together in some open space using a path through grass and bush. I managed to hide in some of the tall grass… They did not see me… But I watched everything that was happening.
“I saw them tie up my husband’s hands and torture him shouting ‘Allahu Akubar! Allahu Akubar!’ before they cut his throat. I saw them kill my brother and some other men in the same way. Then finally they left, taking with them my sisters and some other women. I have not heard from any of them since. I do not know if they are alive or dead.”
Furaia had no time to bury her husband and brother. After making sure that the terrorists were gone, she went back home and gathered her children and those of her brother and sisters. In total, she now has 14 children to care for.
Finding support in Nampula
They spent the next few days hiding while running towards Nampula, a larger city in the neighbouring province of the same name. They brought nothing with them, as most of their belongings were burnt in the fires the rebels started, and there was no time to pack any of what was left.
When they arrived in Nampula, they faced many more difficulties. Furaia looked for help from a cousin. But after living with them for a few days, his superstitions got the better of him. He asked Furaia to leave before her bad luck started affecting him.
Furaia eventually found a place to rent, but it took whatever funds she had left. The family felt safe for the first time in many weeks, and they were thankful to God for the roof over their heads. But they did not have much to eat, and no utensils or bedding, and only the clothes on their backs.
It was then that your help reached her – and it could not have come at a better time. Furaia received food, kitchen utensils and bedding, thanks to your support.
“I thank God for not abandoning us and for creating good people in the world who think and care for others who they don’t even know”JULIA
She says, “I thank God for the help that arrived. My children and I now have something to eat. Without this help we would have starved. I am very, very thankful for all the things I received. To the supporters, I would like to say thank you and God bless you.”
Now that their most urgent needs are covered, Furaia hopes to have more time to mourn and process what happened. She has not yet found a spiritual home in Nampula.
“Things are hard,” she says. “I was used to having my husband to share life and hardships with. I had a family and relatives. Now I am alone with the children, wondering what to tell them, how to bring them up, and how to give them adequate protection. I can only pray for peace and that we will not be abandoned.”
Please pray for the Lord’s provision and sustaining grace for Furaia and her family.
Thank you for helping to provide relief aid to hundreds of believers
Furaia isn’t the only believer you have helped. Thanks to you, desperately needed relief aid has been delivered to 328 mostly Christian families displaced by the jihadist violence in Cabo Delgado. Among the beneficiaries were believers, pastors, and mission workers.
Pastor Vintan from Cabo Delgado explains what happened: “These people were attacked and forced out of their homes. The homes were burnt down. The situation has created ghost towns and villages. I personally saw some of the cruel atrocities and understand what the people have gone through. The people’s conditions are very precarious… The assistance is a true blessing. God has answered our prayers.”
Maria and Julia both lost relatives in the violent attacks and are grateful for the aid they received. “I didn’t see my husband being killed because I was shot in the arm and collapsed,” Maria recalls. “When I came to my senses, I started asking for him. I learned that my brothers, sisters and sisters-in-law were taken away [by the insurgents]. I had no time to mourn. I just ran with all my children to Nampula. I am so thankful for all the help and pray for blessings on those who have given towards this aid.”
Julia shares, “This aid is a miracle. When we got here with all these children and no men, there were no pots, no stoves, no bedding, and now look at us. Now we are better off: we have comfort, food, and household goods. I thank God for not abandoning us and for creating good people in the world who think and care for others who they don’t even know”.
Pastor Vintan asks for prayer. “Please pray for peace in the country, for the people to have faith, and for Christians to continue giving aid to their suffering brothers and sisters. People went through a lot of shock. Some are traumatised and feel helpless. Also pray for our leaders to have wisdom to solve the crisis.”
Keep praying for Mozambique
This year is the first time that Mozambique has appeared on the World Watch List Top 50. It has jumped 21 places, largely because of the increasing violence faced by believers in more areas of the country. Please continue to pray for our church family there.