BURKINA FASO, WEST AFRICA — In 2019, Abraham* and Joel’s* church was attacked by jihadists in a village in Burkino Faso in West Africa. The two young men survived, but the horror of what happened has traumatized them. Open Doors provides trauma care counseling for many people impacted by attacks like these.
“There are no windows. Your cell is very small. You can’t move around. We wouldn’t know if the sun was rising or setting or know what time it is.
“They would give us bread twice daily, two slices in the morning and two in the afternoon. There is no clean water. If there is water at all it is not clean. They wouldn’t give us any kind of book to read, academic or otherwise. There is no radio. You only sit there. You will easily become mentally disturbed. This is life in prison.”
Pastor Gideon from Eritrea has spent over six years locked up for being a Christian. But even when he was imprisoned Gideon held onto his faith in God.
“When we were in the midst of this suffering, we truly sought God’s face. We prayed. In that jail there were believers among the police officers. They even secretly gave us a Bible. We used to read the Bible in rotation and encourage and teach ourselves.”
Eritrea’s harsh prison system causes inmates much physical and mental stress. Gideon was beaten, interrogated, forced to do hard labor and pressured to deny Christ.
“They ask you to deny and despise your faith. Honestly speaking, the temptation was very difficult. However, with the help of God, we persevered and said ‘No.’ We refused. To some extent our refusal extended our time in prison. Had we said yes, they would have freed us earlier. And then they released us without giving us a reason why we were arrested in the first place. They warned us not to go to churches that were part of the evangelical or Pentecostal movements. They said ‘If you go there, if you are found in these churches for a second time you will be killed.’”
Despite the threats when Gideon was released, he stayed true to his calling to serve the church. When he shares the Gospel, he explains to converts that accepting Christ means also accepting the likelihood of imprisonment.
”Nowadays it’s difficult to meet a Christian who hasn’t ever been imprisoned. Leaders are arrested, but other leaders come. Disciples are imprisoned and others rise up. The church has continued to develop leaders and disciples – those who aren’t afraid of jails or of death. That is the kind of generation that the church has produced. What makes us happy is that more than ever, the Gospel is spreading. The church is fulfilling its mission. Persecution didn’t cause the church to lose its power. The church will not be closed. Glory to God! The light of the church is shining. Its taste is becoming good like salt.”
*Name changed for security reasons
About Open Doors UK
For over 60 years, Open Doors has worked in the world’s most oppressive countries, empowering Christians who are persecuted for their beliefs. Open Doors equips persecuted Christians in more than 60 countries through programs like Bible & Gospel Development, Women & Children Advancement, and Christian Community Restoration.