A Christian-majority village in Cameroon was attacked by Islamist Boko Haram militants from Nigeria half an hour before midnight on 15 October. It was the second time in three months that the village of Malika, twelve miles from Mora, had been targeted, with the two village shops, both owned by Christians, attacked and looted by 15 militants.
Barnabas Fund is at the forefront of multi-level support to the persecuted Church in West Africa, helping many victims of Boko Haram attacks in north-eastern Nigeria and neighbouring countries. As well as providing vital practical assistance, Barnabas Fund is working to explore long-term solutions and interventions. Last month, for the first time, 50 senior francophone Christian leaders from Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Congo, Central African Republic (CAR), Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Gabon, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Mali, Niger, Senegal and Togo met specifically to address the issue of persecution and Islamisation.
Most of the leaders represented countries where Islam is the majority religion and Christianity is under severe pressure. The Church not only faces the constant and unrelenting forces of political Islam but also the rise of Islamic extremism from groups such as Islamic State (IS), Boko Haram and Al Qaeda which are specifically targeting Christians. Many Christians in these countries live in conflict areas and are in constant fear of attack. The attacks are so frequent that, even during the five-day conference, delegates were bringing news from their home churches that was both shocking and disturbing – news of renewed violence and persecution that was occurring during the course of the conference. In one such event, a Christian from Burkina Faso was assassinated in Mali.
The conference did much to create a blueprint for a united Church response to the significant trials faced. In a joint statement the leaders wrote to Barnabas Fund:
“Thanks to your financial and moral support, we were able to fulfil this dream of bringing together the Christian leaders of Francophone Africa on the theme of ‘building the resilience of the Church’. The reflections and solutions proposed are great tools that allow the Church to build its resilience and therefore to face present and future challenges.”