“This is the biggest shock of our lives as Christians. Never in our wildest imagination did we think this would happen.”
On 12 May 2019, gunmen stormed a church service in Dablo in Burkina Faso, West Africa, killing six Christians including the priest. They burned down the church, shops, health centre, and other buildings. Extremist Muslim groups have moved into the northern and eastern parts of the country. Pastor Daniel is just one of thousands who have been forced to flee.
“We have left everything we laboured for,” he laments. “Our children have been forced out of school. Some of our men have been killed without provocation.”
Burkina Faso is under attack.
Image: One of the churches that has been closed in Burkina Faso
Burkina Faso was known for peaceful coexistence between different religious and ethnic groups. But extremist Muslim groups have helped to change that. In the northern and eastern parts of Burkina Faso they are loudly proclaiming their allegiance to so-called Islamic State.
The church has been targeted. In the space of four months, seven targeted attacks have claimed the lives of 23 Christians. An unknown number of pastors and their families have been kidnapped and remain in captivity. On 27 June, four Christians in the village of Bani were killed by an armed group who targeted those wearing crosses.
“The Jihadists started threatening the church by sending warnings to stop worship services in the communities of Arbinda, Dablo, Djibo, Kongoussi and others,” said an Open Doors team member who has been to visit displaced Christians. “At first, they said they were against women and men worshipping together in the same church. Then, in no time, the believers were warned not to hold any Christian worship services at all.”
Image: Some of the displaced Christians
More than 5,000 pastors and church members have been forced into camps for internally displaced people or are taking refuge with family and friends in the south or central regions. Over 200 churches have been closed in northern parts of the country, to avoid further attacks.
Open Doors teams have been into the country to meet with displaced Christians, encouraging them to remain strong and reassuring them that they are not alone.
We support people who are beaten, tortured,
imprisoned, falsely accused, and hated simply for following Jesus.