“As a Christian, I didn’t know where to go, I couldn’t take anything. I was only looking for my wife and my two children. I almost became mad,” Gabriel explained how his world was turned upside down in moments.
The day that the militants attacked his village in Sanmatenga Province he was at his market stall selling produce. Suddenly a gunshot rang out in the marketplace and everyone started to run in all directions. He wanted to go home but the gunmen were heading that way too – he couldn’t get through. He fled 30km away to escape the gunfire.
Christians warned by militants to leave village in 72 hours
He returned late that night to an empty house. His wife and children, and many others in his village, had gone. He learned next morning from neighbours, as they hastily prepared to leave too, that one man had been killed and others badly injured in the attack. The militants had warned that they would be back in 72 hours to kill anyone who didn’t leave the village – especially Christians.
He spent a week without any news of his wife and children, desperately searching from village to village. Then he heard from a pastor that they were in the city of Kaya, where they and many others had fled for refuge, and were looking for him. When he joined them he was overwhelmed to find that other Christians far away – Barnabas’ supporters – were taking care of his family.
Your help gives displaced Christians a “sense of the real body of Christ”
With tears in his eyes Gabriel told us, “You gave us clothes, shelter and food. Christians we don’t know are sending us some various help. This is strengthening our faith and giving us the sense of the real body of Christ. Wherever they are, may the Lord bless them and rescue them in difficult times as they did for us.”
Relentless Islamist attacks throw Burkina Faso into chaos
At least 97 Christians have died in twelve attacks since 28 April. The city of Kaya alone is now hosting 82 pastors and 1,145 Christians from 151 households, displaced from various parts of the north. Thousands more have fled to Koungoussi after a fresh spate of attacks in September.
The slaughter began in Silgadji on 28 April when a pastor, his son and four members of his congregation were shot one by one when they refused to convert to Islam.
Islamist extremists have announced their intention to eliminate Christianity from the central region of Burkina Faso, warning Christians to “Flee, convert or die”.
In many cases it is men who have been killed, leaving widows and fatherless children without a protector and provider.
Burkina Faso now in the grip of famine
Now, in this already desperately poor country, the crops have failed because of a prolonged seasonal drought. The World Food Programme has warned that the region is facing a severe food crisis. Many displaced Christians are caught up in an unprecedented humanitarian emergency, with over 4.2 million people displaced across the Sahel countries by escalating violence in dire need of aid.
Please give practical help
Please help us to give them practical support. Having abandoned their homes, possessions and crops when they fled, displaced families desperately need food. As displaced people, they have no way to support themselves in a very poor country where 80% of people rely on subsistence agriculture. And with famine looming, the regions where Christians have sought refuge will struggle to feed them.
Your gift to Barnabas Fund will provide live-saving food aid, medical or other basic needs for displaced Christians, especially widows, fatherless children and orphans.
A 50kg sack of rice, five litres of cooking oil and a supply of soap to help a family survive and remain healthy for a month costs £35 ($45; €40).
Please give now.