Here in Burkina Faso, we have been confronted with terrorist attacks for more than four years. It is an inexplicable situation, because no one has claimed responsibility.
The government has turned to all parts of society, including the churches, to provide explanations, receive counsel and ask for prayers for the nation.
In Bobo-Dioulasso, where I live and carry out my pastoral ministry, the Federation of Evangelical Churches and Missions has hosted a number of visits from government ministries.
In 2019 we hosted a visit of the Ministry of Human Rights and the Ministry of Integration, Solidarity and Social Cohesion.
I had the opportunity to speak in the name of the churches. I told the Minister of Human Rights and the representative of the Ministry of Integration, Solidarity and Social Cohesion that principles from the Bible are the foundations of their work.
The Bible is the basic document for human rights. God defends the rights of the weakest. “Do not oppress the widow, the orphan, the alien or the poor; and do not devise evil in your hearts against one another” (Zach. 7:10).
My belief, which I preach in church and share with our government authorities, is that the crisis my country is experiencing is due to the following injustices:
— A poor distribution of resources, which causes unemployment, which in turn causes young people to be drawn to terrorist and jihadist movements.
— Extrajudicial executions. I read the testimony of a young person who said, “Some of us enroll in terrorist, jihadist movements because members of our families were kidnapped, accused by security forces and disappeared, so in order to avenge what happened to them, we are fighting the government.”
‘We give them hope’
The authorities of our country have confidence in us and ask for our contribution in the search for peace. Each time they come to us, we give them hope by leaning on the promises of God: “Happy is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people whom he has chosen as his heritage” (Psalm 33:12).
By leaning on such words, we place Burkina Faso under God’s control. We believe the churches, through prayer, have an impact on the country. We say without ceasing: “Unless the Lord guards the city, the guard keeps watch in vain” (Psalm 127: 1).
We organize prayer meetings for the nation and invite the administrative and political authorities.
As we were planning one of the prayer meetings last year, the president of Parliament visited us. He asked us to pray for the nation to avoid fighting and political divisions.
When he learned we were organizing a prayer meeting at the House of Culture, he covered the cost of renting the space as well as the cost of refreshments for all of the participants, even though he was Muslim.
The Eternal remains our hope in this struggle. The visit of a Mennonite World Conference delegation will strengthen our hope, knowing that brothers and sisters are thinking of us and praying for us.
“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. . . . He makes wars cease to the end of the earth” (Psalm 46:1, 9).
Siaka Traoré is Deacons Commission chair for Mennonite World Conference.