4 powerful words from Burkina Faso Christians in crisis

August 26, 2022 by Brian O. in Persecution updates

Red dirt paths, roadside cooking fires, long side streets with endless markets selling coconuts, grilled goat meat, fish, yams, sorrel and spices—these are the things that greet you in Bobo-Dioulasso, the second-largest city in Burkina Faso.

 

I’m here to meet with Christians in Burkina Faso who have experienced extreme persecution mainly at the hands of jihadists in the country’s northern region.

Burkina Faso currently ranks No. 32 on the 2022 World Watch List of the most dangerous countries for Christians. In January, a military coup pushed aside the president here in Burkina Faso, and Islamic militancy is gaining ground. The country is in upheaval and Christians are often caught in the crossfire without security or protection against extremist groups.  

 

Over the last two years, jihadists have increased their forces and the intensity of their violent attacks—burning churches, abducting Christian women and children, raiding villages and targeting pastors.

 

So many believers have lost their homes and belongings from the violence.

Displaced but not without hope

As part of the more than 1.9 million internally displaced people (IDPs) from violence in Burkina Faso, these believers are vulnerable and left with almost nothing to survive. They struggle to find shelter, food for their families, clothing and medicine—and jobs to provide for the future. 

Pastor Aaron, an Open Doors partner, has served the church for decades. He’s seen the church at times of peace and witnessed the more recent impact of extremist attacks that have shattered the Christian community, stripped its freedoms and scattered its people.

We sit together at a roadside café for a meal of white rice, fish and peanut sauce to talk about the current challenges for Christians who’ve had to run for their lives and leave everything behind. For obvious security reasons, we can’t show his face.

“It’s very difficult for [Christians] to live,” Pastor Aaron shares. “Because when they fled, they couldn’t bring anything. Just the clothes they have on them and maybe a small bag. Everything else was lost—animals, belongings, food.

“They have no food, no help—and many hardships. Life is very difficult for them. But these believers know that God can take care of them, and many believers worldwide are praying for them.”  

A special need for prayer

According to the Constitution of 2012, Burkina Faso is a secular state that guarantees individuals the right to choose, practice or change their religion at will. But that statement means little to nothing to terrorists who seek to control the country and establish their interpretation of Islam.

 

Many churches face ongoing intimidation, knowing they’re at risk of attack or being shut down weekly. Meanwhile, believers are forced to ask themselves if they should leave their homes to seek safety elsewhere for their families.  


Today, Christians in Burkina Faso desperately need our prayers.

Many of our persecuted family members are surviving day-to-day on what God provides through the church. But Pastor Aaron has a prayer request that goes beyond daily bread. He asks for prayer for something even more profound: faith.

“We ask for you to pray for all the believers so that even in the troubles—the lack of food and the lack of clothes—that they will keep their faith,” Pastor Aaron says. “There’s nothing more important than their faith. If you place your faith in Jesus Christ, you have a solution for everything we are crossing.

“Please pray that they will keep their eyes on Christ. I know that your prayer will help believers here stand firm.”

4 powerful words

The freedom to practice our faith is critical for our Christian family worldwide. However, it’s often challenging to think about the reality some Christians face daily to gather, worship and fellowship. In some regions of Burkina Faso, this is nearly impossible.

 

It’s so important to stand with our global family, step into their stories, and engage in the battle through prayer.

 

Pastor Aaron adds, “And please pray that God will allow us to be free to practice our faith here. Because of extremist attacks and violence, we are not safe or secure.”  

 

Pastor Aaron has one final charge to Christians, just like you and me, living in freedom. One that resonates with me still.

 

“We never wished for persecution to come, but still it came. Only God is our security here. We must keep our faith in God to survive. But be ready for when persecution comes, it can come fast, as it did here. Be ready and be strong.”

 

Be ready. Be strong. 

 

Four words to live by from our brothers and sisters in Burkina Faso. Be prepared for adversity and be strong in our faith.

 

The future of the church in Burkina Faso hinges on the power of God and the strength and resilience of the believers who face unthinkable challenges. But we know God often brings hope when it seems everything is almost lost. For Christians here, like Pastor Aaron, the story is not over. Not even close.

 

Across Burkina Faso and in other countries impacted by violence, the global economic crisis, food shortages and displacement, Open Doors is launching an emergency relief campaign. Through this effort, you can help provide food kits, support, clothing, medicine and safe shelter for the most vulnerable believers. 

 

If God places it on your heart to learn more or to give to help persecuted Christians in need of relief, click here.

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