Nigeria and the Sahel, through which runs the north-south fault line between Muslim and Christian majority areas, are in profound need of prayer. The sporadic outbreaks of violence in Nigeria escalated into more frequent and intense pogroms against Christians by increasingly bloodthirsty fundamentalist Muslim groups (often importing fighters from farther afield). The Nigerian-originated Islamist and anti-education movement Boko Haram now assumes the role of most-feared terror group in Africa. Christian response to Islamist predations has been largely peaceful, but not always. Besides the religious fault line, the conflict also touches upon tensions over land between southern settled farmers and northern pastoralists. Côte d'Ivoire, Ghana and other West African nations face similar tensions. Should something as terrible as north-south civil war in Nigeria break out, the likelihood is high of meltdown in much of the rest of West Africa. Pray for those orchestrating violence to be foiled and for those on both sides who love peace to prevail through wisdom, discipline and graciousness. Pray also for Christians to continue evangelizing the region's Muslims with love and without fear.
Central Africa, where ethnic and international conflicts have brutalized the populations. Tensions between the Hutu and Tutsi peoples in Rwanda and Burundi led to civil wars and periodic genocidal massacres over the past five decades. The Rwanda genocide of 1994 triggered a chain reaction of war and waves of refugees, affecting surrounding countries. The Second Congo War of 1998-2003 embroiled DRC, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Angola, Chad, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi in a confused and bloody conflict that involved irregular militia groups as much as national armed forces - and had no real decisive winners, only losers. Eastern Congo in particular has been devastated, and the simmering of disgruntled militias and ethnicities poses a continued threat there. For years, the heterodox and occultic Lord's Resistance Army also plagued the population of Uganda as well as southern Sudan and northeast DRC with raids, murder, mutilation, abduction and enslavement. Pray for righteous leaders - locally, nationally and internationally - who will act with justice and decisiveness to prevent war and conflict. Pray also that the lives of those devastated by loss and destruction might be rebuilt from the ashes.
East Africa remains a place of instability and regional violence, despite the 2018 peace treaty between Ethiopia and Eritrea, which itself came as an answer to prayer.
- Somalia's descent into anarchy plumbed new depths. A combination of deep poverty, lack of resources, famine, historical colonial influences and the deeply clan-based societal structure creates a dangerous cocktail. Hard-line Islamist groups vied against the Ethiopian-backed Transitional Federal Government, taking and retaking each other's strongholds. This situation allowed foreign fishing fleets to plunder the fish stocks off the Somali coast, which in turn generated an armed response by Somalis and the flourishing of piracy. International naval presence greatly reduced piracy, and on land, Islamist radicals were pushed out of major strongholds and mostly operate in remote areas and in low profile terror cells.
- Kenya, meant to be a lynchpin of regional stability, has suffered unexpected violence and strife in the past generation. The worst of this was in 2007-2008 after a disputed election. What began as political protests against electoral fraud soon descended into ethnic violence, and much destruction of property and life ensued. Ethnic/tribal rivalries fuel and are fuelled by political wrangling, and corruption in the corridors of power does nothing to bring solutions. When peace holds, it is too frequently punctuated by murderous terrorist attacks emanating from Islamist groups with ties to Somalia’s al-Shabab.
Sudan's civil strife has been the norm for decades. It became somewhat of an international pariah due to the persistent violence and oppression endorsed by the regime. The former president has been convicted of corruption and money laundering, and faces international criminal charges of war crimes and genocide. But now, Sudan's prospects are threatened by its own military, which faces widespread censure for its handling of the protests and coups of 2018-2022.
- The north-south tensions plunged the country into outright civil war for the majority of Sudan’s existence as an independent nation. These are intensified by the racial and religious divide between north and south, the Arabization agenda of the regime, with its Islamic jihad overtones, as well as the oil wealth in the south. South Sudan achieved independence in 2011, but descended into civil conflict only a few years later, and seems unable to climb out. Pray for peace in this troubled region.
- Darfur, despite being overwhelmingly Muslim in composition, was for years subject to horrific oppression by the government-sponsored Janjawid militia. These troubles in turn spilled into Chad and, to a lesser degree, Central African Republic, affecting millions in both countries.
Southern Africa is not free from tensions and potential troubles, either. The well-documented abuses by the government in Zimbabwe, the crippling effect of HIV/AIDS, the general lack of good governance and the growing uncertainty over South Africa's stability add up to a need for heartfelt prayer. The escalating racial tensions in South Africa and the cruel violence against foreign refugees (mostly fleeing Zimbabwe) point to an underlying reality that the future health of the "rainbow nation" is under more threat than ever.
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Content taken or adapted from Operation World, 7th Edition (2010) and Pray for the World (2015). Both books are published by InterVarsity Press. All rights reserved.