'Please remember us': Islamist attack on Burkina Faso church leaves 6 dead

Gunmen attacked a church in northern Burkina Faso last Sunday, killing six people. A priest was among the dead.

The attackers, numbering between 20 and 30, burned down the church and looted a health centre before fleeing. 

The Catholic church in Dablo was the third to have been targeted during the last five weeks, part of an upsurge in violence against the Christian population in the broader Sahel region, south of the Sahara desert. Last month a Protestant church was attacked and six people – including the pastor – murdered in Silgadji, and an attack on another Catholic church earlier in April saw four killed. 

Islamist terrorists are believed to be responsible. 

Burkina Faso is one of several countries in the vast Sahel region battling Islamist insurgencies targeting not just churches but schools and their teachers, seen as signs of Western influence. Last Friday French special forces freed four foreign hostages believed to be in transit to Mali. Two soldiers died. 


What is the Sahel?


The head of the Bible Society of Burkina Faso, Revd Dramane Yankiné, said: 'Lately, the terrorists’ strategy has changed. They used to attack the symbols of the State. Now the churches have become their favourite targets.' 

However, he said: 'We never stop asking God for his grace and support.'

He asked for prayer, saying: 'The Bible Society is in touch with the Church in the north of the country through our distribution project of audio scriptures. It is an encouragement for the Christians who are able to have access to the Word of God in their language without attracting attention from anybody. Please remember us.' 

United Bible Societies worker Claire Bedot, who is based in France, said the security situation was an 'endless nightmare'. 

'There is a huge move of population from the north to the south of the country as Christians are terrified,' she said. 


How is Bible Society helping?


Jesus told his disciples: 'In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world' (John 16.33). And the Psalmist says: 'Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints' (Psalm 116.15). With Christians everywhere we grieve at the losses suffered by our sisters and brothers, praying: 

God of all comfort, we pray for those who have been bereaved and injured in the recent attacks in Burkina Faso. Our hearts go out to those innocent people who died at the hands of men led astray by evil teaching.  

We pray for the healing of those who remain, in body, mind and spirit. We pray that Christ will come to them in their grief and anger, and show them the path to peace. 

We pray too for the safety of Christians and others facing violence and instability in Burkina Faso and in the wider Sahel. We ask that you will strengthen the hands of the peacekeepers and frustrate the plans of the wicked. 

And we pray that the work of the Gospel will transform not just individuals but whole societies as your Word takes root in the hearts of many. We remember before you Dramane Yankiné and others who work to make the Bible known, and we pray you will bless their work and keep them safe. 

We pray for your peace in that troubled region, and throughout the world. 

Amen. 


What is the Sahel?

The Sahel is a large belt of land south of the Sahara desert, on the African continent. It broadly stretches across Mauritania, Senegal, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, Nigeria, Chad, Sudan and Eritrea. Some of Africa’s most vulnerable communities live in these countries.

What are some of the challenges in the Sahel region?

There are many challenges across the area:

• extremist groups like Boko Haram are active
• there’s political instability and nations are recovering from conflict
• poverty is rife – Mali and Niger are among the poorest countries in the world
• the land is fragile, affected by climate change and prone to environmental disasters which can lead to food shortages
• infrastructure is poor, so Bible distribution is difficult
• In most countries Christians are in the minority

What is Bible Society doing in the Sahel?

We want to provide God’s word to the most challenging places in the world. For this reason, we’ve pledged to continue supporting our colleagues in the Sahel, to help deliver Bibles into the hands of those who can’t get copies anywhere else.

Thanks to the support of people like you, our colleagues are continuing translation work to make the Bible available in Mali, and distributing Bibles in the most remote areas of Niger. In Chad, our teams are running Bible-based literacy classes, and working in refugee camps, where they can minister to children traumatised by violence and conflict. These projects, and many more, are made possible thanks to your continuing, faithful support. 

Find out how you can support our work in the Sahel

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