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Christians in the north of this small African nation are suffering because of their faith. Many have been forced to flee their homes, leaving everything behind.

Armed groups, including some aligned with al-Qaida and Islamic State, are waging a campaign of indiscriminate killing, beginning with occasional attacks that have intensified over time.

Some of the attacks have targeted Christians. There have been several attacks on churches during worship services with church leaders explicitly targeted. In many areas, churches now meet in secret. In some of the most recent attacks, terrorists asked villagers about their religion. Those who claimed to be Christian were killed immediately, while people of other faiths were unharmed. To date, more than one million Burkinabe have had to leave their homes because of terrorist attacks. Among them are more than 8,000 Christians.

Pastor Blaise and his wife had been serving the Lord for several years in their home village. After learning that jihadist groups were actively searching for them, they fled to a more populated area. They had been there for a few weeks when, one Sunday, while walking to church, they saw a group of jihadists killing the pastor and six church members outside the building. Church members who were already inside were trying to escape or hide. That day, Pastor Blaise and his wife left and found refuge in a small town, 350km from their home village.

In March this year, the government of Burkina Faso introduced restrictions to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Lockdown, curfew and quarantine measures were put into place until early May.

This coincided with the typical lean season, and left Pastor Blaise and his wife, along with other displaced Christians, in great need. Every year people suffer hunger during the lean season, but COVID-19 restrictions coupled with the huge numbers of displaced persons, meant that all food harvested after the previous rainy season was very quickly consumed. There was no possibility of obtaining more.

Answering the cry for help from our brothers and sisters in Christ, including Pastor Blaise and his wife, VOM worked with local contacts to provide emergency aid, food and essential hygiene products, which were distributed to those most in need.

Pastor Blaise said, “We are thankful to God who saved our lives. We are grateful to our brothers and sisters who helped us and supported us in this challenging time. Please, pray for God’s protection. Pray also for our brothers and sisters who could not run away and are still in danger.”

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