Jesus says in John 15:18, “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you.” As Americans, we may relate to that to some degree; however, this is a daily reality for many believers around the world — including our brothers and sisters in Christ in Burkina Faso.
Landlocked by six other countries in West Africa, Burkina Faso is one of the most impoverished countries in the world. With an economy based primarily on subsistence farming, recent droughts have had a devastating impact on the locals’ economic livelihood. Religiously, the nation is 62% Muslim and 23% Roman Catholic. Despite the nation’s Muslim majority, Burkina Faso enjoyed a relative amount of peace until January 15, 2016. That day, gunmen stormed into a Western hotel and café in the capital, Ouagadougou, where they killed 30 people and wounded 56 more. Since that day, persecution against Christians, as well as Muslims who don’t agree with the militants’ strict interpretation of Islam, has increased exponentially. Open Doors cites a statement from the Africa Center for Strategic Studies, where they report the number of terrorist attacks and violent incidents has increased from 24 events in 2017 to 136 events in 2018.
In the past six weeks alone, there have been six separate violent attacks against Christians. On June 9th and 10th, 2019, two attacks occurred where 29 people were killed. According to Persecution.org, the multiple attacks over the past year have caused 82 pastors and 11,245 Christians to be displaced indefinitely. Schools are shut down, and Christians that have not fled are living in hiding.
The attacks stem from Islamic militant groups in Niger and Mali — two countries that surround Burkina Faso to the west, north, and east — where there are active al Qaeda bases, known as al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. Militants are flooding into northern Burkina Faso, using the once-peaceful country as a launching pad to further their horrific agenda.
The attacks have commonly taken place at churches where Islamic militants storm in and force the pastor and other congregants to deny Christianity and accept Islam. Those who refuse to deny Christ have been murdered on the spot—including Elie Zoré, a 48-year old pastor near Arbinda in the north. He left behind a widow and six children. Elie Zoré is one face to the more than 400 people who have been murdered in the name of Allah.
In Matthew 24, Jesus says, “Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me…but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.” As we grow closer and closer to the day of Jesus’ return, we know that the light will get brighter and the darkness will get darker.
While we should not be surprised by these events, as believers, we must stand with those who are hurting. Please pray for our brothers and sisters in Christ in Burkina Faso who are grieving the loss of loved ones and who are currently displaced from their homes. Pray for God to deliver them from evil and give them strength to continue living for His glory. Come soon, Lord Jesus.
Melanie Morgan is a summer intern with the Master Writer department at Focus on the Family. She is a registered dietitian, and she is currently pursuing her master’s degree in Technical and Professional Writing at Missouri State University. Before returning to school for her master’s degree, she went on the World Race, an 11-month mission trip to 11 different countries. She spent that year serving in hard-to-reach countries within North Africa, the Middle East, and Central Asia. She has a heart for people in the most unreached places to know Jesus. In total, Melanie has been to 25 countries. In her free time, she enjoys running and hosting events in her home. Melanie currently resides in Springfield, Missouri.