After deadly church attack, evangelical leader in Burkina Faso says only love, not revenge can bring peace

Published 04 December 2019  |  
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An evangelical leader in Burkina Faso has called on Christians in the country to choose love over revenge after a church attack on Sunday left 14 people dead.

Gunman carried out the deadly attack on a church in the village of Hantoukoura, in eastern Burkina Faso, as worshippers were taking part in the Sunday service.

It is the latest in a wave of attacks on Christians, who have been increasingly targeted by extremists in the West African country.

Pastor Henri Ye, President of the Federation of Evangelical Churches and Missions (FEME), urged the people of Burkina Faso to choose love and unity, not revenge.

"Once again, our values of tolerance, forgiveness and love were violated. The freedom of worship enshrined in our Basic Law has been trampled on," he said.

"However, it is in the love of God and our neighbour, in unity and solidarity, by ridding ourselves of all spirit of fear and revenge that we will eventually overcome. May the unity of the body of Christ and that of the whole nation lead us to a better future."

The World Evangelical Alliance (WEA), of which FEME is a member, has called for prayer and support from the worldwide Church in the face of increasing violence against Christians in the country.

While terrorist attacks used to be targeted at symbols of the state or security and defence forces, extremist groups have increasingly turned their attention to civilians and, this year, to churches.

In the last few months, two pastors have been killed, both of them leaving behind wives and children.

"By attacking churches, the terrorists have attacked the values of tolerance, forgiveness and love that have always guided our country," FEME said in an earlier statement.

"The freedom of worship enshrined in our laws has also been challenged. The terrorist groups are trying to weaken the values of unity, solidarity, secularism and social cohesion that are the foundations of Burkinabé society."

Several churches have been forced to close their doors entirely in the north of the country, with pastors and congregations fleeing to larger towns and cities further south.

Many of them have been helped by churches and families, but with the numbers fleeing increasing, the WEA said that some were stretched to their limits trying to provide enough food, water, clothing, shelter and healthcare.

In September, Aid to the Church in Need reported that thousands were fleeing the northern regions, with sources telling the charity that people had been told by Islamic extremists to either leave or convert.

"We stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Christ in Burkina Faso and pray for those who have lost their pastors and loved ones in the recent violence that has increasingly targeted Christians," said the WEA's Secretary General Bishop Efraim Tendero.

"Please join us in prayer for lasting peace and that the underlying issues that give rise to terrorism in the region can be addressed and resolved.

"And pray for the believers to stand strong in their faith in Christ, so they can be a shining light of hope that overcomes the darkness of evil and despair."

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