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News / Thoughts

DRC: Escape from slavery

March 21, 2016

Mado was taken captive in February 2013 when she and her husband and brother-in-law were returning from working in their field. As they walked they were asked by two men for help with their luggage. The three Christians did not suspect danger and started to help, when armed rebels  jumped out of the bush. The militants tied their hands and marched the three captives towards their rebel hide out.

During the journey things took a turn for the worse. Mado says: “Suddenly they just killed my brother-in-law right in front of my eyes. I cried uncontrollably. One of the gunmen got angry with me and hit me with the flat side of a machete and then blind-folded me…

“A short while later I heard my husband scream. One of them removed my blindfold and showed me a machete with blood on it. He said they had ‘freed’ my husband and threatened to do the same to me if I continued crying. When he handed me my husband’s ID card and clothes, I knew he was dead.”

Slavery and forced marriage

Eventually Mado and her captors arrived at the rebel area. “They put me with 11 others in a deep hole about four meters deep. It was terrible there, and we had no idea how long they would keep us in the hole. There was no escape. One girl that tried to escape was killed.

“We ended up staying in the pit for about four months. Afterwards I joined the others as slaves. We built houses, carried firewood and pounded rice. They gave us food, but we didn’t know where it came from.

“Out of fear, we did whatever they told us to do. All of us in the camp were told to become Muslims or die. Two months after my baby died I was renamed Asma and given to an elderly Muslim man as a wife.”

Mado* cannot talk about what happened to her during her 15 months of slavery. All she and the other women who were held captive say is that they saw God’s hand in their circumstances; they did not fall pregnant and did not bear children for these men. Mado says she was encouraged by one particular Christian lady in the camp who constantly encouraged the others to keep their faith in Christ.


Finally Mado saw her chance to escape. “At the time we had gone eight days without eating anything proper. We pleaded with our captors to let us go into the forest to look for mushrooms. They gave permission.

“While there, we heard government troops advancing on Medina again. When we heard their gunfire very close by, we took the opportunity and ran in different directions. A few of us ran straight for the river because the rebels always told us to avoid the river. We came across a camp of government troops who helped us and eventually transferred us to Beni. Shortly after that I was reunited with my family.”

Although she is now free, life for Mado is not easy. She says: “Although I am very happy to be free, I have been facing many difficulties.” She is struggling to come to terms with the trauma she has suffered.

She has also faced judgement from others following her time in captivity. She explains: “People are apprehensive. Some question how it is that we could free ourselves and not the others. Some people even say that they let us go because we have links with the rebels. Some people, even up until today, do not see us in a good light.”

Open Doors is working in this region to provide emergency relief such as food and shelter following extremist attacks, and persecution preparedness training to help Christians overcome pressure and persecution.

*Name changed for security reasons

Pray now…

  • For healing and provision for Mado and others who have experienced violent persecution at the hand of rebels
  • That Mado’s community would have compassion towards her and accept her once more
  • For protection for communities in eastern DRC from attacks by rebel soldiers
  • That God would change the hearts of members of the rebel group and turn them to Him.

We support people who are beaten, tortured,
imprisoned, falsely accused, and hated simply for following Jesus.