Joel and Abraham Survive Jihadist Attack in Burkino Faso

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.


“That Sunday, we were in the Sunday service. When the service ended, some were already outside and other were still inside the church. Joel and I and three other men walked out of the church compound. I took a bench for us to sit on. When we had sat down after a few minutes we saw two people coming on motorbikes from by the river. But we didn’t see that they had guns.”

In 2019 jihadists attacked the small village in Burkino Faso where Abraham lived. They targeted the church congregation and took their phones and other belongings. Then they separated out the men from the women and children.

“They forced all the men to follow them. When we were at the compound gate one of the terrorists blocked my way with his hand. He said ‘This one is still a child.’ They released me and another young man for the same reason.”

Joel was one of the seven remaining men who were taken behind the church.


“There was a small neem tree. They forced us to sit under the tree side by side just as I am sitting now. Then they took pictures of the seven of us. After they finished taking the pictures they told us to lie down with our heads against the church wall. The seven of us got down. We lay down on our stomachs on the ground. Then they started shooting. All six men with me died, but I survived. My right hand was slightly injured.”

The bullet had missed Joel’s head – and he escaped with his life. The survivors travelled to another town where Open Doors has provided food aid. The women who were widowed by the attack attended a trauma care workshop too, but there was not enough capacity to help Joel and Abraham at this time.


“We understand that the women received comforting words during that training to help them move on and continue with their lives. I also need that training. If I could get it it would help me a lot. Because life is not easy for me.”


“There were seven of us and all the other six have gone. They were my pastor and my spiritual brothers. It has been so difficult for me to accept that I was the only one to survive. That is a really big burden. On top of that I have become physically disabled. I cannot do manual labour. The job can be simple work that I can do with my hands but if it requires strength, then I cannot manage it.”

*Joel and Abraham – names changed for security purposes.

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.

Read more news on Non-Profit / Faith-Based Organizations, and Christian Persecution.


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