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
Also in this Issue
Subscriber Access Only Gender Is No Disease
Our children's sex is not something to be screened but gratefully received.
RecommendedKenneth Bae: How I Kept the Faith in a North Korean Prison Camp
Subscriber Access Only Kenneth Bae: How I Kept the Faith in a North Korean Prison Camp
Why this missionary’s prayer changed from “Send me home, Lord” to “Use me.”
TrendingWho’s Who of Trump’s ‘Tremendous’ Faith Advisers
Who’s Who of Trump’s ‘Tremendous’ Faith Advisers
The Republican candidate finally names his campaign’s evangelical connections.
Editor's PickFaith and the Arts: A Fragile Friendship
Faith and the Arts: A Fragile Friendship
Churchgoers are willing to embrace fine art, but artists don't know if they want to claim the church.
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.