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urkina Faso is majority-Muslim and around 30% Christian. The rise of extremist Islam, from 2015, has caused devastation, displaced thousands and destroyed agriculture. This, together with recurring drought and famine, has plunged the country into a humanitarian crisis.

Christians, who include many converts from Islam, suffer severe persecution. A spate of vicious
militant attacks targeting Christians began in April 2019, and claimed at least 162 Christian lives by December. A church leader lamented, “Living or dying is of very little importance now. The most important thing is keeping faith in the Lord.”

The attacks began in the northern town of Silgadji on 28 April 2019 when a pastor, his son and four members of his congregation were shot in cold blood for refusing to convert to Islam. From April to June, at least another 56 Christians were slain. 

In late September 2019, five separate attacks claimed 41 Christian lives and caused thousands to flee to Koungoussi, Bam Province, as jihadists warned, “Flee, convert or die”.

Christian women and children who survived an extremist attack on a church that killed 14 of the 15 males in the congregation
Christian women and children who survived an extremist attack on a church that killed 14 of the 15 males in the congregation

In October 2019, extremists slaughtered 36 Christians in Bam, Sanmatenga and Soum Provinces, in the north of the country.

In an attack on a church in Komondjari Province in the south-east on 1 December, five boys and nine Christian men were shot dead during Sunday morning worship. A distraught church leader, related how extremists broke into the service, shouting “Allahu Akbar” before massacaring all but one male in the congregation.

Landlocked, Burkina Faso, previously known as Upper Volta, was part of the French colonial empire in the Sahel region of Africa. It became independent in August 1960 and was re-named Burkina Faso in 1984.

The politically unstable country has experienced a number of military coups. With a mainly subsistence economy, Burkina Faso is one of poorest countries in Africa, despite its gold reserves. Two-fifths of the population are younger than 15 and life expectancy is low.

Prayer

Pray for the protection of Christians facing Boko Haram attacks. Ask that the extremists will turn from violence and come to know the Prince of Peace. Pray Christians’ faith will remain steadfast, the needs of the displaced will be met and the bereaved will know God’s comfort.