In the wake of an attack that claimed the lives of 14 Christians, prominent evangelical leaders in Burkina Faso have called for a response of love and forgiveness.
At least ten militants burst into a church in a village Hantoukoura near the country’s border with Niger on Sunday, spraying worshippers with gunfire and killing several believers including a pastor and child.
Following the killings, which have garnered headlines around the world, the Federation of Evangelical Churches and Missions (FEME) urged believers to respond with prayer.
“Once again, our values of tolerance, forgiveness and love were violated. The freedom of worship enshrined in our Basic Law has been trampled on”, said the President of FEME, Pastor Henri Ye, according to Evangelical Focus.
Ye added that FEME was “still in shock from this tragedy” and expressed “sadness and pain at the repetition of such barbaric and dehumanizing acts.”
But far from seeking revenge on the attackers, who were likely to be Islamic militants, the pastor called on all the country’s churches “to use fasting and prayer as first weapons throughout the national territory.”
FEME’s statement added that “it is in the love of God and our neighbour, in unity and solidarity, by ridding ourselves of all spirit of fear and revenge that we will eventually overcome.”
“May the unity of the Body of Christ and that of the whole nation lead us to a better future,” it concluded.
Prior to the rise of Christian persecution, Burkina Faso was celebrated for granting protection to religious minorities. Indeed, the West African nation even makes provisions for the upholding of religious freedom within its constitution.
In recent years, however, Christians have come under attack from various Islamic militant factions.
Following the latest slayings, top Burkina Faso bishop Justin Kientega told Aid to the Church in Need that he believes insurgents are seeking to destroy this religious pluralism championed by the constitution. Fighters are “waging an Islamist campaign and trying to provoke a conflict between the religions in a country where Christians and Muslims have always lived peaceably side by side,” he said.
“There is an ongoing persecution of Christians. For months, we bishops have been denouncing what is happening in Burkina Faso, but nobody is listening to us.. Evidently, [the West] are more concerned with protecting their own interests.”
Faithwire has been reporting heavily on Christian persecution plaguing this small African country, not least because the frequency of attacks has spiked dramatically over the past few years — from just 12 in 2016, to 33 in 2017 and 158 in 2018.
Below are just a few examples of our reporting on the country:
- Four Christians Singled Out for Wearing Crosses, Executed in Northern Burkina Faso
- Four Christians Slaughtered in Latest Attack on Burkina Faso’s Faith Community
- Priest Among Victims in Brutal Attack During Church Service in Burkina Faso
- Four Dead After Another Brutal Attack on Burkina Faso’s Christian Community
“We stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Christ in Burkina Faso and pray for those who have lost their pastors and loved ones in the recent violence that has increasingly targeted Christians,” said Bp Efraim Tendero, Secretary General and CEO of the WEA in a statement posted to Facebook.
“Please join us in prayer for lasting peace and that the underlying issues that give rise to terrorism in the region can be addressed and resolved. And pray for the believers to stand strong in their faith in Christ, so they can be a shining light of hope that overcomes the darkness of evil and despair.”
Please pray for all those affected by this brutal persecution.