Standing firm amid the devastation

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Christian refugees in Burkina Faso still need our help (Stock photo)

Christians are still reaching out with hope and help in a nation on the brink, writes Laura Hayes

Despite the ongoing chaos in Burkina Faso, Christians are risking their lives to spread the gospel and help persecuted believers, our partner Dr Susanna* told me.

There were two military coups in 2022 and the former President was forced into exile. Recent reports from the UN on Burkina Faso, which is one of several countries that make up the Sahel, are deeply concerning: due to the continued jihadist insurgency, many parts of the country have been cut off and people are facing starvation. One report documents how mothers are feeding their children on ‘salt and leaves’. It is a tragedy on a vast scale with more than 1.5 million people including many Christian families fleeing towards the capital Ouagadougou to access aid and find safety.

Susanna is concerned for her friends and partners on the ground there. She says: ‘The situation is now changing for the worse. The first coup was in January and was led by the military leader [Lieutenant-Colonel Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba]. The army suspended the constitution and dissolved the national assembly. The situation became very chaotic and our partners didn’t know what was going on, there was no internet and the country felt changed. For the first few weeks after the military came to power, it was kind of peaceful, there was quiet on the streets of Ouagadougou and in the provinces, but very quickly the jihadists started to attack again. Everyone was thinking that [Damiba], who started to run the country from the end of January, would deal with the jihadists, because he promised the people he would fight with them. He said that he would provide food because he  didn’t  like the politics before, so everyone was hoping the situation would change for the better. Unfortunately it was not the case.’

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Susanna continued: ‘So in the nine months from January to September 2022 the situation got worse and worse. In July there was a huge  attack on a military convoy that was transporting food, and many were killed; the jihadists just  wanted  to kill those giving help, of all religions, and that was horrific. But what was worse was that the politicians tried  to hide that they were failing and not capable of dealing with the situation. People were waiting for more than two months but there was no public information about how many people had been killed or injured. The military kept telling the people to calm down and promised “we will tell you later”. They asked the media not to publish anything. So people were just waiting and waiting but there was no information, nothing.’

Susanna said that Christians were at particularly high risk and were persecuted by jihadists. Many had to flee their homes, but were also reaching their neighbours in the refugee camps and sharing the gospel. ‘They had a good response,’ she adds. ‘The families of the new believers were also with them as they changed their religion, so it was very risky for them.’

In September the Government sent 150 lorries with food and medicine to the northern commune of Gaskinde but the aid convoy was attacked. Reports said 37 soldiers and aid workers were killed. Susanna adds: ‘Again no information was put out on the news at the time and no official information was given.’

At this point the mood on the streets of Ouagadougou started to turn against the new military government with many calling for action and even rioting. As a result there was a second coup, headed by a young military leader, Ibrahim Traore. The former President, who had been in charge for only nine months, fled to Togo with his family. A few  weeks  after the coup, the new authorities started to provide food to refugee camps; Christian refugees who were starving to death in many refugee camps at last had some help. ‘But they still desperately need our help,’ says Susanna.

The situation is still very insecure and unstable but Susanna adds: ‘There is much to be thankful to the Lord for. In the midst of all of this we have Christians who stand firm, they go and they preach the gospel. Our local partners are  still  trying to support local Christians [who have been displaced] in and around Ouagadougou. Last week they were going to visit persecuted children in the towns outside the capital, to help them.’

The local partner called her and said that even though there were explosions and shootings on the street – it was the start of the second coup – they were still going to help. ‘We must go to help, we prayed about this and it is time to go. We have to go, despite the risks,’ they told her.

Susanna adds: ‘It is amazing; they are so bold. They are so committed even though the situation is so dangerous.’

However, their bus was stopped on the way back so the group decided to walk the 20 kilometres home in the dark. ‘It took them five hours and they had to hide along the way in case soldiers or jihadists would shoot them. That was so brave of them.’

She adds: ‘Please do remember Burkina Faso in your prayers!’

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Children are among those who have had to flee


  • For wisdom for the country’s new leader especially in choosing the right people for the government
  • For a willingness to engage with the international community
  • For food and other aid to reach the needy (there are food shortages because of the Ukraine-Russia war)
  • For safety for Christians, especially ministry workers and new believers
  • That Dr Susanna’s team will be able to help their local partners

*Name changed for security reasons

(Sources include;

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