The impact of Islamic militant groups has remained steady over the last several years because of the ongoing political instability. There were two military coups in 2022, which contributed to civilian deaths, but the number of faith-related violent incidents decreased in 2023—though the danger has not truly subsided. The country has one of the world's most severe displacement crises—with many Christians among the displaced—and the military government has faced accusations of war crimes. With this backdrop, Christians attempting to follow Jesus in Burkina Faso must try to do so without any sense of security or safety, even in places where Islamic militants were previously unable to reach.
Burkina Faso used to be the epitome of religious cohesion, but Islamic militant influence has managed to erode much of the peaceful coexistence between Muslims and Christians. Now, in addition to facing violence and threats from Islamic extremists, Christian converts from Islam face increasing pressure and sometimes even threats from their families and communities, simply because they follow Jesus. These believers sometimes have become afraid to share their faith in public because they could be rejected by their families. They also know their communities could try to force them to renounce their faith in Christ.
Converts from Islam face the most intense persecution in Burkina Faso, but all believers risk attack from Islamic militants, particularly any Christians in the country's northern and eastern regions.
"At prayer time, [the militants who kidnapped me] would gather everyone to pray. We couldn’t refuse or even hide. We were constantly surrounded by guns. They would kill you if you didn’t perform the Muslim prayers.”Habiba, a Christian who was abducted by Islamic militants in Burkina Faso
The continued violence in Burkina Faso shows that there is continuing instability. In some parts of the country, there may simply be no Christians to kidnap or kill. In these areas, churches and villages lie vacant because all the believers were forced to flee to safer regions. And yet, even some of those "safer" parts of the country are risky for Christians as the country and Africa's Sahel region continues to experience political turmoil. Coups in bordering countries Mali and Niger also contributed to worsening instability in Burkina Faso and the increase of Islamic militants who run rampant around the region. Additionally, the pressure for converts from Islam has grown—it remains difficult to follow Jesus out of Islam.
Open Doors works through local partners to strengthen Christians in Burkina Faso by providing persecution survival training, relief aid, and spiritual and trauma care.
Heavenly Father, we ask You to be with and comfort our brothers and sisters in Burkina Faso. They have endured so much violence over the last several years, and the pain they've felt seems impossible to heal from, impossible to have hope. We ask that Your comfort and peace—which we know only You can bring—will come to Your children in Burkina Faso. Please help them endure. We also ask for a miracle: please change the hearts of the Islamic militants who attack Your people. We pray all these things in Jesus' name, Amen.