Mali: Reviving The Testimony of Christ
Christian Believers in Mali, West Africa, are suffering the impact of Islamic extremism which has resulted in the decimation of churches in the north.
Open Doors’ 2014 World Watch List states that the “presence and infrastructure of Christianity in the north was largely destroyed, and that rebuilding a Christian presence will be difficult because many Christians who fled the north are afraid to return.”
Five percent of Mali’s population of 17 million are Christian. Although most live in the south, they still feel threatened by Islamists in the north, and fear a new uprising.
Fighting in northern Mali in January 2012 resulted in the Tuareg-led Islamist group taking power. Intervention a year later by France, the former colonial power, prevented the formation of an Islamic state, and the Malian government regained most of the north.
Although the situation was stabilized, the armed Islamist groups had ruled the region during the previous year, banning other religions and desecrating and looting churches and other places of worship. Thousands, including many Christians, fled to the south of the country or to neighboring countries. Christians left behind are forced to meet in schools.
In January this year, explosives were discovered behind the doors of a church in Gao, northern Mali. French army personnel safely diffused the bomb, narrowly averting disaster.
The pastor admitted "insecurity in all aspects of life," but added: “I cannot say for sure that the bomb was intended to hurt us Christians. I only know that the location of the bomb was right next to our place of worship and also a route frequently used by the military." (World Watch Monitor)
He told WWM that around 50 members of his congregation had returned home in recent months: "We came back because we want to revive the testimony of Christ here in our hometown. Despite the insecurity in all aspects of life, we want everyone to return here and together to work for our God who loves us so much."
Pray for the pastor and his congregation in Gao, who were shaken by the bomb threat, but thankful for God's protection. Pray for angels to protect this small community of Christian Believers, so that they can be salt and light. Pray for many to be added to their number and to the church in northern Mali.
Pray for wisdom for President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita in steering the country towards peace and stability (The Bible, James 1:5).
Pray for the dismantling of the extremist Islamist groups which had aimed to impose Islamic law. Pray that confusion will reign among its leaders and members (The Bible, Psalm 35:26).
Pray for good harvests. The U.N. says millions of people continue to be in desperate need of assistance (The Bible, Matthew 5:45).
This article originally appeared in the March 2014 edition of the
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