“There is no Christian anymore in this town,” came the WhatsApp message to Barnabas Fund from a Christian in Burkina Faso on Monday (10 June 2019). Nineteen Christians had been killed the previous day in the Arbinda district and the entire remaining Christian population had fled.
Christians in northern Burkina Faso are facing a spate of murderous attacks by Islamist militants. At least 49 Christians have died in six attacks since 28 April. The city of Kaya alone is now hosting 82 pastors and 1,145 Christians from 151 households, displaced from various parts of the north.
In many cases it is men who have been killed, leaving widows and fatherless children without a protector and provider.
Will you help Barnabas Fund to meet their urgent needs?
Seeking Christians to kill
As in Arbinda, the attacks often happen on a Sunday. The first attack was at a Sunday service in Silgadji, when gunmen demanded that the pastor and five members of the congregation deny Christ and convert to Islam. They refused, and were taken away, one by one, to be shot behind a nearby building.
In Dablo on 12 May, at least 20 terrorists stormed a worship service, seized the pastor and five church leaders, shooting them all dead.
“It’s proven they were looking for Christians. Families who hide Christians are killed,” said our contact about last Sunday’s violence in Arbinda.
On 13 May, militants shot dead four Christians who were in prominent positions in a church parade in Zimtenga.
The impoverished West African nation is about 50% Muslim and has a history of generally peaceful relations between Christians and Muslims. Islamist violence against churches and schools was unknown in Burkina Faso until 2015, but has escalated causing hundreds of schools and scores of churches to be closed down. “These terrorist groups are now attacking religion with the macabre aim of dividing us,” said a government statement in May.
Pleading for prayer
Our brothers and sisters in northern Burkina Faso are pleading for prayer support.
“Pray for me to keep the faith because we know we may die very shortly,” said one. “I know you are praying for the nations in difficulties including Burkina Faso. And please continue to do so,” said another.
Please give practical help
But we can also give them practical support. Displaced Christians are sheltering in church buildings but there is not enough space for all of them. They urgently need secure places to stay. Many of them are sick with malaria or other illnesses, and need medication. Having abandoned their homes, possessions and crops when they fled, they desperately need food. Even those who managed to carry some food with them when they fled, will be in need before long. As displaced people, they have no way to support themselves in a very poor country where 80% of people rely on subsistence agriculture.Your gift to Barnabas Fund will provide food, medical or other basic needs for displaced Christians, especially widows, fatherless children and orphans.
Please give now.