While the government of Mali struggles to keep the peace process on track amid continued insecurity, the church is facing its own struggle. Almost two years after the Islamist invasion, Christians who had fled to the south before the Islamist invasion had to decide whether to stay on or venture back to the north.
Those who decided to return to the north soon learned that they needed a lot of courage. Upon their return, they were confronted with disheartening scenes of destruction. The Islamists first occupied all churches, church schools and Christian homes. They turned churches into mosques and schools into madrassas (Koranic schools). And then they vandalized everything.
For the returning believers, it was very traumatic to see the destruction of their homes. As could be expected, all food, clothing and animals had become spoils of war. But for the Christians, it was a great shock to see that the rebels did not even spare them a door or a window. They have ruined everything the Christians had worked so hard for.
Some of the returnees were able to rent houses, but many did not have that option. They cleared out the debris from what was left of their homes and now use plastic sheeting as doors and windows. Churches and church schools suffered the same kind of destruction.