Originally published in Christian Today
Martine from Burkina Faso lost her home and most of her family to Islamist militants. Her first thought: “I hope the killers come to know Jesus.”
The day her church was attacked, Martine remembers how, at the end of the service, her pastor had asked them all to pray for their enemies.
Just 10 minutes later, as the church members gathered outside to chat, Islamic militants approached the church.
“They took the Bibles and the wooden pulpit and burned it all in a pile,” Martine remembers. “They told the men to follow them. And they took them behind the church. They made them lie on the ground to shoot them.”
Martine lost her husband, father, brother and brother-in-law that morning.
The attackers stole everyone’s phones and ID cards and gathered some of the motorcycles. What they couldn’t or wouldn’t take with them, they burned.
“They told us to leave the place quietly,” Martine says. “If we cried they would be back the next day to kill us all, they said.”
Fleeing and forgiving
As she left the village, Martine remembers thinking, “I want those who did this awful thing not to die without knowing Jesus Christ.”
She had no idea what the future held for her. And she had no words even to pray: “I wanted to open my mouth to speak to God, or to ask God why, why, why.”
But all that came out were groans. Yet, she decided to trust God’s purposes.
“I told the Lord: ‘From now on it is You who will take care of my life day and night. I have no one else to whom I can carry my problems to, except You, as You allowed this thing to happen. Lord, I am counting upon You. And it is You who will take care of me. I will not go neither to the right and nor to the left.
“When something is about to trouble me, or when a thought troubled me, I used to say, ‘Jesus, remember the prayer that I made to You. I will not deviate neither to the right, nor to the left. It is only to You that I lift my eyes. My hope is only on Your cross.'”
Martine is encouraged in her faith when she remembers what her father used to say about persecution. When their Muslim neighbours came to warn him of the danger of staying in the area, her father refused to leave.
“My father said that if it is because of the name of Jesus that people want him to flee, he will never flee this village. Even it would mean death, he would die for the name of Jesus. He would not be afraid of what can only kill the body but not the soul.”
Burkina Faso has been facing increasing violent persecution, along with a number of nations in Sub-Saharan Africa. Christians are being targeted and killed by jihadists, and churches destroyed.
Christians from Muslim backgrounds experience the most violations from family and community, who reject them and try to force them to renounce their Christian faith. Christians are afraid to express their faith in public because of such threats. Hundreds of churches have been closed due to jihadist activities.
Open Doors partners have been able to deliver emergency relief aid to Martine and 2 100 other displaced families.
Martine and 87 other women widowed in similar ways have also benefited from trauma care.
“The trauma care training has helped me. The teaching has renewed my life and my strength.”
After receiving the trauma care, Martine longs for other widows to experience the same healing: “If I can take those words of love that I heard and have victory, I also want other widows to have the same. If the others get the same, I don’t believe hatred and troubles will ever be in our widow-hearts.”
“Pray for our faith to be strong,” she asks. “We want to remain in Christ. Pray for us so that we may have victory in our faith fight.
“We also ask you to pray for our nation so that peace may return in Burkina Faso.”
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