Around a quarter of people in Burkina Faso are Christians – almost 5 million from a population of 20.9 million.
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 a million internally displaced people 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.
“Attacks have shattered the lives of our people. We are troubled and filled with pain over the deaths of our family members.” Pastor Samuel
Pastor Samuel lived in the north of Burkina Faso, but had to flee from extremist attacks on his church and members of the Christian community.
“We don’t know who the attackers are, neither do we know who is sponsoring them,” he says. “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.”
He lives in a camp for internally-displaced people, praying with others there and encouraging them to not lose hope. “And today our prayers have been answered!” he says – because Open Doors partners brought vital relief aid to believers in the camp who had fled attack. “When I saw the trucks of food and the youths offloading the items, I began to sing songs of praise to God because He has fulfilled his promises to us.”
Although Burkina Faso falls four places on the World Watch List this year, Open Doors research team have found that persecution is getting slightly worse – just now as much as in other countries. Violence has decreased but, as more overt attacks have lessened, the ongoing crisis caused by Islamic extremist attacks continues.
Please keep praying for your brothers and sisters in Burkina Faso. Your gifts and prayers make an enormous difference to those following Jesus no matter the cost.
Open Doors works through local partners to strengthen Christians in Burkina Faso by providing trauma care, relief aid, persecution survival training and advocacy support.
Almighty God, we come to You and ask for Your protection and sustaining grace to come upon our sisters and brothers in Burkina Faso. We ask that You’d protect those who were forced to leave their homes and villages – please give them strength and lift up their heads to see Your face. We pray for followers of Jesus who came out of Islam, that You would help them realise they have a global family of Christians who care for them, even as they are rejected by their biological families. Amen.
Your support helps persecuted Christians continue to courageously follow Jesus.
Together, we can reach those where persecution hits hardest.