What does persecution look like in Burkina Faso? What is life like for Christians?
After a brutal 2019, when Christians were targeted and murdered by militants, there were fewer high-profile violent attacks in 2020. However, the violence still continued—just not as visibly.
Open Doors estimates there are over 1 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Burkina Faso, and many are Christians. Extremist attacks have driven followers of Jesus from their homes and villages, with many being forced into refugee camps. Open Doors partners in Burkina Faso report there are no open churches in parts of northeastern Burkina Faso. Christians in this area have largely been forced to flee due to violence from Islamic extremists. Low rainfall and the COVID-19 pandemic have worsened the situation.
Christians who have converted from Islam also face significant pressure and opposition from their families and communities. Families may reject Christian converts, and new Christians may be pressured to renounce their new faith. This also means new converts from Islam are often reluctant to be public about their faith. Burkina Faso has long had a reputation for tolerance of various faiths, but that reputation is increasingly at risk.
Meet “Pastor Samuel”
“In northern Burkina Faso, we have faced attacks against Christians and against our churches. We don’t know who the attackers are, nor do we know who is sponsoring them. All we know is that they attack Christians. These attacks have shattered the lives of our people. We are troubled and filled with pain over the deaths of our family members.”
What has changed in Burkina Faso?
Burkina Faso actually fell four spots on the 2021 World Watch List—however, Open Doors analysts actually believe persecution has become slightly worse in the last year. Fortunately, violence has decreased, but as more overt attacks have lessened, the ongoing crisis caused by Islamic extremist attacks continues to drive suffering and difficulties for the Christianity community in Burkina Faso. Converts to Christianity from Islam are also targeted.
Who is most vulnerable to persecution?
The northern and eastern parts of Burkina Faso are particularly dangerous for followers of Jesus, especially areas outside of urban centers. Attacks from Islamic extremists have focused on this region.
Additionally, converts from Islam are also vulnerable to pressure and rejection from both their families as well as the broader society. Often, this can lead to a fear of publicly expressing faith.
What does Open Doors do to help Christians in Burkina Faso?
Through local partners, Open Doors comes alongside Christians in Burkina Faso by helping with emergency aid and by providing trauma care, leadership and discipleship training, persecution preparedness training, and ongoing prayer support.
Population statistic: Johnson T M and Zurlo G A, eds., World Christian Database (Leiden/Boston: Brill, accessed February 2020).
Pray for Burkina Faso
Pray for the Lord’s provision in the lives of our displaced brothers and sisters in Burkina Faso. Pray that they will not be ruled by fear, but experience the peace only the Lord can give through His Spirit.
From a pastor in Burkina Faso: “Pray for Burkina Faso, so that the peace of God will reign in the country, and our people will be able to go back to their villages and continue their daily activities. Pray also for our pastors who have been displaced, that God will equip them and put His words of hope on their lips as they minister to their congregations.”
Pray for grace for Christians to remain firm in the faith as they face increased hostility. Many people, including Christians, have been severely traumatized by the deterioration in security and the displacement they have suffered. Please pray the Lord will be at work in their lives to bring healing and comfort.
Thank the Lord for the efforts by the church to provide for the needs of fellow Christians through church collections.
Pray for the Lord’s provision to all the displaced in their physical needs. Please pray the government will receive wisdom and display accountability as they seek to create order in the affected areas.
Stories from Burkina Faso
January 14, 2021
Betrayed, watched and martyred: 5 major trends in persecution against Christians
July 28, 2020
Violence and COVID-19 turn African Christians into ‘endangered species’
April 17, 2020
How COVID-19 is making Christian persecution even worse in Africa