Guest / Limited Access /

Violence and chaos have erupted for the third time in two years in Ivory Coast, the cocoa capital of the world and longtime haven in strife-torn West Africa. Last November's exodus of expatriates included missionaries. They left behind Ivorian Christians who must now sustain their ministries amid civil war with little Western help. The Ivorians don't know if they are ready for the challenge.

Ivory Coast's conflict pits President Laurent Gbagbo's largely Christian government forces, which control most of the south, against the Muslim-dominated New Forces rebels, which occupy a large swath of the north. Most of the disputes are over land and run along ethnic lines, missionaries say. French troops have been stationed in the former French colony to protect expatriates from violence.

On November 4, an errant government air strike killed French troops in the central town of Bouaké. The French retaliated by wiping out the country's tiny air force. Bands of Gbagbo supporters, in turn, took to the streets, attacking French nationals, and destroying and looting their schools and businesses. White missionaries who escaped the violence took flight with one-way tickets.

Many missionaries held on during two previous periods of unrest-in October 2002 and February 2003. But the third exodus included nearly all of the remaining hundreds of Protestant missionaries.

"[Missionaries] have said this: 'I'm willing to die for the gospel, but I'm not willing to die because someone on the street thinks I'm French. I'm not willing to die over a mistake,'" said Tim Welch, Serving in Missions (SIM) country director who has been in the country since 1986. On November 16, he left Ivory Coast on a chartered flight to Dakar, Senegal, with 61 other missionaries ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Read These NextSee Our Latest
Recommended'Not Forgotten': The Top 50 Countries Where It's Most Difficult To Be A Christian
'Not Forgotten': The Top 50 Countries Where It's Most Difficult To Be A Christian
Open Doors says 2014 saw the worst persecution of Christians in the 'modern era'—but not because of violence.
TrendingThe 10 Most Influential Churches of the Last Century
The 10 Most Influential Churches of the Last Century
There is much to learn from some key trends in the last 100 years of church history.
Editor's PickWhy Black Churches Are Keeping Millennials
Why Black Churches Are Keeping Millennials
The reasons are rooted in history.
Comments
Christianity Today
A Church Largely on Its Own
hide thisFebruary February

In the Magazine

February 2005

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.