A Refuge of Hope in Violence-Torn Cabo Delgado
02/03/2022 Mozambique (International Christian Concern) – Last month, Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) shared the story of Father Edegard Silva, a missionary forced to flee the Muidumbe District of Cabo Delgado when Islamic militants attacked in 2020.
“The Catholic mission there was destroyed and practically nothing of it was saved,” wrote the news source. “Many of the Christians’ houses were burned down, as was the church, the residence of the priests and that of the sisters.”
“In addition, during the attacks more than 50 young people were massacred inside a football stadium.”
According to ACN’s sources, almost all of those who once lived in the Muidumbe were forced to flee. Among the survivors was Father Edegard Silva, who today continues his mission in the Diocese of Pemba, where he has created some unique spaces for prayer.
“One of these is for praying the Way of the Cross, while the other is for the ‘missionary Rosary.’ Both are open spaces, without any doors, where everyone is invited to come and join their voices to those of Christians all over the world. Every time they pray the Way of the Cross, the Catholics in Mieze do so with the memory of the violence and death in Cabo Delgado.”
According to ACN, believers salvaged a piece of wood from one of the houses that was burned down in the November attacks. It has been made into a crucifix to represent the suffering they have endured.
“The cross was made from the charred wood of the house of one of the Christians, and the figure of Christ is made from broken pieces, because we wanted to recall the situation of so many people, men, women and children, who have been cut to pieces,” said Father Edegard. “And so, the body—the feet, the hands and the head of Christ—is in separate pieces, as an expression of the reality lived by so many people here in this war zone of Cabo Delgado.”
Beginning in 2017, armed militants, bearing the Islamic State flag, have wreaked havoc primarily in the northern Mozambique province of Cabo Delgado. Calling themselves Al-Shabab, the group espouses radical Islamist propaganda, though the amount of ideological motivation has been debated. In March of 2021, Al-Shabab killed dozens in a coordinated attack on Cabo Delgado’s capital of Palma, an area where believers are often kidnapped, forced to flee, or killed at the hands of extremists.
In a statement after this attack, IS boasted that its affiliate had killed dozens of security personnel and Christians, including westerners from what the statement termed “Crusader nations.”
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