Ongoing jihadist attacks on Christianity
Over the last year, Burkina Faso’s northeastern region has seen a brutal onslaught of deadly attacks on Christian churches and villages—including several during and after worship services on church grounds in which worshipers were told to convert to Islam or die. An influx of violent Islamic extremist groups into West Africa’s Sahel region has led to these attacks that killed at least 40 Christians in 2019. These groups are campaigning for attacks on believers, with some who want to create an Islamic state opposing the very existence of Christianity.
How Christians are suffering
The outburst of killings during the 12-month reporting period has created an environment of fear. Many Christians are too scared to attend church services or send their children to school. Some churches have stepped up security.
Christians of Muslim background are the most persecuted Christian group in the country. Family and community members reject them and attempt to force them to renounce their Christian faith. Believers are afraid to express their faith in public because of such threats.
In April 2019, gunmen shot a Protestant pastor and five other Christians in a church in northern Burkina. The attackers executed believers leaving the worship service when they refused to renounce Jesus.
On May 12, 2019, a Catholic priest and five other Christians were killed in an attack in the central town of Dablo. Gunmen first stormed the church during the Sunday service and then set fire to the church and surrounding buildings.
In June 2019, militants stormed a village in northern Burkina Faso and ordered people outside to lie down. Then the armed group checked everyone’s necks, looking at the chains worn. They found four men wearing chains with crosses, indicating their Christianity, and executed them.
In September 2019, gunmen shot and killed a Christian man and four of his sons in the villages of Pissele and Boulkiba.
Population and number of Christian statistics: Johnson T M and Zurlo G A, eds., World Christian Database (Leiden/Boston: Brill, accessed April 2019).
Pray for Burkina Faso
Pastors are pleading for support from Christians worldwide to deal with the physical and emotional ramifications of growing jihadist violence and from the international community to prevent a disastrous undoing of the religious cohesion that Burkina Faso has been known for in previous years.
Pray for the Lord’s comfort and grace to all who have lost loved ones in the attacks and that He would be close to the broken-hearted.
Pray that Christians would have the courage and faith to remain firm in Jesus as they face increased hostility.
Pray for all international forces helping in the fight against extremists in the larger region. Pray that they would be able to help bring stability and prevent the spread of violence to Burkina Faso’s neighboring countries.
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