A week ago, I was flying out of Burkina Faso to Liberia.
Just five days later, on Friday, September 30, Burkina Faso experienced their second coup this year by the military. In January of 2022, the elected president was overthrown by the military who claimed that there was not enough being done to protect the country from Islamist extremists. A temporary government was set up for 18 months and elections were set to be held next July. While I was in Burkina Faso, I had the opportunity to meet one of the candidates who is running for president. He is a Christian and has established a Christian party.
While I was there, I was told by a number of people that there had not been much improvement in addressing terrorism and instability in the country. BBC reports that Burkina Faso only controls about 60% of their territory and that Islamist violence is worsening. Since 2020, more than one million people have been displaced because of the violence. The Islamic insurgency started in 2015, and in that time more than 2 million people have been displaced.
On Monday of last week, September 26, eleven soldiers were killed while escorting a convey of civilian vehicles in the north. Fifty civilians are missing. This follows another attack on September 5, in which another convoy was attacked, killing 35 civilians and wounding another 37. Protest broke out in the capital, Ouagadougou, last week concerning this.
On Friday the 30th, I started receiving messages of concern from one of our partners, Pastor Theo, who lives quite near the capital. He reported that there had been shooting, explosions, and he could see soldiers about 250 meters from his house. At the time he didn’t know what it was, but later he confirmed there had been a coup. Announcements were made publicly, borders were closed, and the airport was shut down. On Saturday, a counterattack was made by the ousted military leader. Main roads are shut down and businesses are closed.
On Sunday, the ousted leader (who had ousted the President in January) agreed to step down.
I know this is not a new story. Sadly, this is not a unique story. But it sure feels different when you were just there and people that you call colleagues are in the middle. And so I ask you to pray for Burkina Faso. Pray for safety for the citizens. Pray that this country may find a strong leader who knows how to lead a nation to flourishing. Pray for those who have been displaced. Pray for those who have recently lost loved ones. Pray for healing.
I have left Liberia, despite delays and problems with my flights, and am trying to make my way to Minnesota for a conference. I thank God for what He is doing in Liberia and continue to ask Him to strengthen the mind and heart of Liberians as they still have much recovery to do from their own civil war.