Illia Djadi – Africa Bureau Chief at World Watch Monitor – describes a Boko Haram insurgency in northern Cameroon. “Ministers in that area are not safe,” he notes. “They had to leave the area or [be] attacked, ransacked, set on fire, destroyed by Boko Haram.
“We had a number of stories of church ministers killed by Boko Haram. Attacked and killed.”
At the same time, government forces are fighting armed separatists in western Cameroon.
Fighting in the North
Boko Haram officially began expanding its operations from Nigeria into Cameroon in October 2014. However, northern Cameroon was one of the first places authorities searched six months earlier following Boko Haram’s infamous Chibok abduction. Last month, 57 Chibok captives were spotted at two Boko Haram strongholds.
On Holy Week in April 2014, Boko Haram abducted hundreds of schoolgirls from Chibok, Nigeria, sparking international outcry. Over 50 girls escaped during the initial months of their captivity, and 106 have been released so far. One hundred are still thought to be in the grasp of terrorists.
Furthermore, Boko Haram terrorists are reportedly raiding and pillaging villages throughout northern Cameroon, stealing food and destroying property. “They (Christians) had to leave,” says Djadi.
“They had to run for their own life, for their own safety, and for the safety of their children and families.”
Fighting in the West
As explained in this report by BBC News, the clash between English-speaking separatists and Cameroon’s French-speaking government began last year. The conflict has killed hundreds since then, and approximately 436,000 have been displaced.
American missionary Charles Wesco was caught in the crossfire at the end of October. Wesco and his family moved to Cameroon from Indiana to begin missionary service 12 days before he was fatally shot.
“This American missionary has become [the] victim of an issue…but before him, other church ministers, leaders, have also been killed,” Djadi states.
The separatist conflict may seem limited to western Cameroon, Djadi adds, but it could quickly become a regional issue.
“That’s exactly what happened with Boko Haram. It first affected north-eastern Nigeria, and now…it is affecting northern Cameroon. It is affecting Chad, it’s affecting Niger.”
3 ways to pray for Cameroon
For their safety, believers are being told to leave both northern and western Cameroon. Djadi says the dilemma is more complicated than it appears.
“They have a strong sense of their calling, to go there even if it’s not safe,” he explains.
“That’s the key issue: what to do? There’s no easy answer.”
While the crisis in Cameroon is multifaceted, there are three specific ways you can pray. First, pray for peace.
“For missionaries [and] churches to run their ministries, they need peace,” notes Djadi.
Second, ask the Lord to protect His followers in Cameroon, and pray for wisdom as they make difficult choices. Third, “pray for the Cameroon authorities, political authorities, for wisdom.”
Header image credit alvise forcellini via Flickr.