What does persecution look like in Mali?
The Islamic extremist insurgency that devastated the north of Mali in 2012 continues to have huge implications for the country’s small number of Christians.
Churches were burned down and many Christians lost their homes and had to flee the region. Although some Christians and congregations have returned under police protection, they still live under the threat of attack. Those living in areas controlled by militants have been denied access to water and land to grow crops. Believers who engage in evangelistic activities in the north are especially vulnerable to violence, while Christian missionaries live under the constant threat of abduction by jihadists. Those who leave Islam to follow Jesus risk violence and pressure from their relatives and communities if their new faith is discovered.
The jihadist violence is spreading southward, and the country's institutions are breaking apart at a fast rate, further playing into the hands of jihadist groups. The authorities’ inability to stem the insurgency has led to public protests and contributed to two military takeovers (in 2020 and 2021). The country has also become a geopolitical battleground between the west and east, making Christians vulnerable to government-related persecution.
Christians experience most opposition for their faith in the north of the country, where jihadists and Fulani militants are active. There are pockets of intense persecution in the form of marginalization in the southern part of Mali as well.
"We are living under great threats in our area in Northern Mali. The fear is increasing every day because we hear about fighting all the time. There are abductions, all kinds of attacks and banditry even in the city... Please pray for us that God will keep His children safe.”Adama, pastor of a church in Gao
What has changed this year?
Christians remain in a highly precarious position given the rising influence of Islamic militancy in the country. Violence against civilians, Christians in particular, and Christians in buildings and churches remain very high. They targeted Christians, the school, and other government institutions, as well as some Muslims.
But there has been good news in the past year. Despite prominent Muslim leaders calling for Mali to become a "multiconfessional state", which raised concerns among Christians over what this could mean for them as a minority religion, in June, Malians approved a draft constitution that included the country remaining a secular state. Furthermore, the new constitution is being touted as a step toward elections in 2024, a return to civilian rule and stronger governance. There is hope that it will lead to greater protection of all Malians, including the country's vulnerable Christian minority.
Open Doors works through local church partners in Mali to provide persecution survival training, discipleship programmes and economic empowerment projects.
- Please pray for courage and safety for Christians living at risk of attack from Islamic militants
- Pray that those affected by persecution will have a profound experience of God's comfort
- Ask that elections will go ahead this year, leading to stronger, just governance in Mali.
Dear Father, we pray for an end to the Islamic insurgency in Mali. Thwart the evil plans of militant groups, bring division in their ranks, and dispel their influence. Reveal Yourself to leaders through dreams and visions, so that they turn and follow You. Protect our brothers and sisters in Mali, and encourage them with the truth that Your Spirit is at work within them (Ephesian 3:20). Be especially near to those who are hurting, and may the comfort they receive from You overflow to those around them (2 Corinthians 1:4). Bring good news in 2024 with peaceful elections and a return to civilian rule, leading to stronger governance. Build Your church in Mali, we pray. Amen.