In a mostly Christian country, where 90% of the population attends weekly service, Protestant and alternative beliefs have risen in DR Congo in the past 20 years. This development has led to a constant increase of independent churches lead by self proclaimed leaders. Today the spread of these churches comes on par with the Roman Catholic and the official Protestant churches.

These independent churches have known a steady growth since the 1990s in Congo DR and are usually led by pastors who claim to have received God’s powers and to have heard his will. Numbers vary between 6000 and 10000 of these churches in the whole country, with a few thousands in the capital, Kinshasa.

In a country where the government has failed to address major issues, these churches and pastors offer people something they need: hope. Through promises of miracles, protection, salvation and healing, they have taken the social role of a broken system and exploit a country’s failure to the benefit of a few greedy individuals.

When I decided to fly and live in my country of origins for a few months, I was hoping to find a spiritual life in Africa. I was interested in the churches of the awakening because of their popularity and theatricality. I thought that by approaching such a widely spread phenomenon I could understand the Congolese society and find a place where people could walk on their spiritual path.

By returning to the churches for a few months I discovered a system that at time seemed rotten and exploitative, but where the believers’ faith was real. Their experience in such a space could transcend the environment, making the impact of these churches much more difficult to evaluate.

Portrait of Pastor Elysée Arc En Ciel
A young girl praying
A woman praying
A woman being exorcised
Counting donations
Pastor Elysée Arc-en-ciel's greeting
The assistant pastor preaching
Pastor Clément blessing a young man
Trance during the evening cult
A blessing during the morning cult
Pastor preaching during morning cult
A woman being exorcised
Intercession during the evening cult
Preaching during the evening cult
An exorcism during the evening cult