Urgent Prayer Needed for Burkina Faso

In a recent attack on a church in Burkina Faso, armed men stormed a church in the town of Hantoukoura, killing the pastor, Tchintchiéba Ouoba, and 13 other worshippers, including five teenagers.

The gun attack which killed 14 church members in a village in Burkina Faso is just the latest in a wave of Christian persecution in the West African nation, according to a Christian pastor working with victims in the country.

A total of 41 Christians have been killed this year in violent attacks. And although the violence does not exclusively affect Christians, who make up 25% of the population, they are being specifically targeted.

The latest attack brings the number of Christians known to have been killed in jihadist attacks to at least 41 since the beginning of the year. An unknown number of pastors and their families have been abducted.

“We don't know who the attackers are,” says Pastor Samuel Sawadogo, who cares for displaced Christians in the city of Kaya. “All we know is that they attack Christians. We are troubled and filled with pain over the deaths of our family members."

As a result, Burkina Faso is confronted with an unprecedented humanitarian crisis, says Illia Djadi, Open Doors’ Senior Analyst on West Africa. “People are living in fear. The northern parts of the country have fallen into the hands of several Islamic militants and they have created a space that seems to be operating like an Islamic state. There are severe punishments for behaviour they regard as sinful,” Djadi added.

Muslim extremists have been expelling Christians from their villages in the north of the country. Pastors and church members have been forced to move further south, to the center of the country or the capital, Ouagadougou. They live in camps for the internally displaced or are hosted by family and friends.

Djadi mentioned that when President Blaise Compaoré’s 27-year rule ended in 2014, it created a power vacuum in which the extremists flourished. They have exploited ethnic, social and economic divides. All this has encouraged the spread of radical Islamic ideology across the country.

Open Doors teams are on the ground to assess the needs, provide prayer and encouragement and deliver relief aid to the most vulnerable Christians.

Please pray for our teams, and for the suffering people in Burkina Faso. As one Christian leader warned, “If the world continues to do nothing, the result will be the elimination of the Christian presence.”