Langham Scholar Yacouba Sanon, who is from Burkina Faso in West Africa, reacts to recent events in his home country.
1) What has happened in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso recently?
Three weeks ago, on March 2 2018, the headquarters of the Burkina Faso army staff and the French Embassy were attacked. Seven people were killed and more than 80 others were wounded. Prior to these twin attacks, two other major attacks took place. The first one took place on January 16, 2016 in a hotel. Thirty people, mostly westerners, were killed. On August 13, 2017, 19 people perished in an attack at a café. All three attacks took place in the capital city, Ouagadougou. In the northern part of the country, there are regular attacks on schools or on military positions. All this started after the former president who ruled the country for 27 year was removed from power by the population in an uprising led by the youth. The latest attacks were claimed by a group affiliated with terrorist movements in the Sahel region of the country, operating between Mali and Burkina Faso and Niger. In their statement, they claim to have acted in retaliation against Burkina Faso for its participation in a French military operation against their movement.
2) Have the recent attacks affected local Christians in Ouagadougou?
To my knowledge, the Church has not been directly affected. Last November (which was before the latest attacks), I asked a pastor who serves in the northern part of the country how they were dealing with the insecurity there. He said that they trust God to protect them and that they will continue to serve him there. I was told that some big churches in the two major cities of Burkina Faso use metal detectors at the entry of the sanctuary, and some churches have had security training sessions with the military. Pastors and churches are asked to be more vigilant. One thing that is sure, in most churches believers are offering more fervent prayers for peace and safety in the country. There is a certain level of fear and uncertainty even for Christians.
3) How do you think Christians should respond to such events?
Christian response to events such as these is first of all prayer. We should pray for all who are grieving because of these terrorist attacks. The church needs to show solidarity with those who are suffering. We should also pray for the perpetrators of the attacks. This is not easy, but it is what the Lord taught us to do. We should also pray for the government and its partners to find the appropriate answer to the crisis, whose roots are deep and complex.
4) How can we be praying for those involved, and for the local Church?
Pastors and their families serving in the Sahel region of Burkina Faso need our prayers. Please pray for their safety and for spiritual wisdom to encourage the church and show compassion even in dire circumstances. I hope this helps to provide a perspective for our brothers and sisters in the Langham family.
Please also pray for Langham Preaching’s work in Burkina Faso – training took place just days after the terrorist attacks in the capital.
Langham Scholar Yacouba Sanon gained his PhD at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, US, and his thesis topic was “The Problem of Suffering”. He is now Assistant Professor of Old Testament and Biblical Hebrew at a bible college in Côte d’Ivoire, Africa. Yacouba also sits on the board of the Africa Bible Commentary.