THE LAND OF THE UPRIGHT PEOPLE — The sub-Saharan nation of Burkina Faso (bur-keen-a-fah-so) is a landlocked country about the size of our state of Colorado (105,900 sq. mi). It is surrounded by six countries: Mali to the north, Niger to the east, Benin to the southeast, Togo and Ghana to the south, and Ivory Coast to the southwest. Burkina has a population of 18.9 million precious souls and has the 7th fastest growing population in the world! Its capital, Ouagadougou (population 2.7 million), is located in the center of the nation and is the largest and most influential city. Formerly called the Republic of Upper Volta, the country was renamed Burkina Faso on August 4, 1984, a name which means “Land of the Upright People.” While the official language is French, Mooré, the tribal dialect of the Mossi tribe, is much more widely spoken and understood. The Mossi is the largest tribe by far, comprising 52.5% of the population, although there are 11 tribes altogether in Burkina Faso.
A NATION IN THE 10/40 WINDOW — Situated inside the 10/40 window, Burkina has one of the poorest economies in the world. This, combined with a harsh, sub-Saharan climate and strong Islamic and animistic influences, offers challenges to ministry that require a great deal of prayer for strength and encouragement. Heat is a continual obstacle to good health with temperatures rising to well over 100 degrees during much of the year and often over 115 degrees. Having very little natural resources and very low rainfall, the life of the average Burkinabé (bur-keen-a-bay) is consumed with subsistence farming. As of 2007, the UN lists Burkina Faso as the 6th least livable country in the world, and it continually ranks among the poorest. Life is harsh, and death often comes much too soon for these precious people. The average Burkinabé will live to be only 58, a full 20 years less than the average American! The rate of literacy is also very low at just 36% in 2008, although it has tripled from 13% in 1990.
PROFOUND SPIRITUAL DARKNESS — As much as Burkina Faso has suffered from economic and educational poverty, its most desperate need, by far, comes from being impoverished spiritually. According to the government of Burkina Faso, the 2006 Census reported that 61.6% of the population practice Islam, 23.2% are Roman Catholic, only 6.7% are members of various Protestant denominations, 7.3% follow traditional indigenous beliefs, 0.6% have other religions, and 0.4% have none (atheism is virtually nonexistent). Muslim extremists are actively trying to recruit young Burkinabés and are seeking to destabilize the government. For so long Satan has held Burkina Faso in his stranglehold of spiritual darkness, yet the light of the Gospel is beginning to dawn anew as more and more Burkinabés are introduced to the truth of God’s Word through the work of missions.
A YOUNG WORK — Although independent Baptists have only arrived in the country within the past 20 years, the Lord is working mightily as local churches are being established and nationals are being trained to take over the works. The first independent Baptist missionary, André Bazié, was born in Côte d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast) and was saved and trained for the Lord’s service there under a BIMI missionary. In 1996, God led him to go to his father’s home village and establish the first independent Baptist church in Burkina Faso. The first American independent Baptist missionaries arrived in 2002, so it is no wonder why independent Baptist works in Burkina are often considered to be bizarre cults! We pray for and work toward the day when every neighborhood will have a local, Bible-believing, Gospel-preaching church to shatter the deep spiritual darkness of Burkina Faso with the Light of the Lord Jesus Christ!
AN OPEN DOOR OF OPPORTUNITY — The government of Burkina Faso has been very welcoming of missionaries, and we enjoy much freedom to preach the Gospel, distribute Gospel literature, and establish churches. However, Satan is trying aggressively to close this door, and we believe that we must do all that we can while we are still able to get the Word of God into the hands and hearts of the Burkinabé people. With just a handful of Baptist missionaries on this field, the harvest truly is plenteous, but the laborers are woefully too few! Would you please prayerfully consider whether God would have you answer the call and be a part of what the Lord is doing among the precious people of Burkina Faso? In such a spiritually starved nation, you can make an eternal difference!
*Facts cited are from the CIA World Factbook (https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/uv.html).