Christians in Africa fear for their lives as violent attacks against them intensify.

Cardinal Dieudonne Nzapalainga warned that, “Africa is a continent where violence against Christians is exploding.” This, following a series of incidents in different countries in Africa in recent weeks, reports German news broadcaster, Deutsche Welle.

Africa is a continent where violence against Christians is exploding. —Cardinal Dieudonne Nzapalainga

In Nigeria, an Evangelical pastor, his daughter and some parishioners were kidnapped. Extreme persecution has forced Christians to flee to other countries. In the Central African Republic, unknown suspects beheaded a 77-year-old Spanish nun, while one missionary was killed in Mozambique.

In an interview with Crux, Jerry Farrell of Catholic Relief Services disclosed that, “Some 2.5 million people are now displaced. In Nigeria specifically, 7.1 million people are in need of urgent, life-saving humanitarian assistance.” The church agency has been providing basic necessities and emergency shelters for those displaced by the violence.

Cardinal Nzapalainga said Christian persecution is not only happening in Africa, but also in different parts of the world. “These acts of violence can be messages, provocations. And we must be careful not to fall into that trap,” he advised.

Christians living in Burkina Faso in western Africa are worried after a series of attacks against fellow believers. In just three weeks, unknown attackers killed a priest and nine worshipers. Burkina Faso is the country in Africa considered to be the most dangerous place for a Christian.

“We are afraid, but with Christ we are making progress. We will always gather to pray,” said Father Etienne Kabore.

Christians admitted to being scared to go to church because of the violence, but claimed that their belief in God helps them to conquer this fear. One woman said, “We hesitate to come to Church now. But as soon as I enter, I trust and pray to my God.”

Meantime, Marco Mörschbacher, Africa consultant at the Catholic aid organization, Missio, said several factors contribute to the increase of attacks against Christians in Africa. Aside from political instability, geostrategic interests of Western countries in Africa play a role.

Mörschbacher believes that, religion is “a force that can both build peace and drive war.”

Cardinal Nzapalainga campaigns for interreligious dialogue among religious communities in Africa to promote peace in the land. He said religion should unite and not divide people.