Sowing Gospel Seed in a Dangerous Land

01 May 2024

Yasmine was outside her home chatting with a friend when they heard gunfire down the street. “I saw them coming, shooting,” Yasmine recalled. “I went to the house to tell my husband to come out because the bad people are coming.”

Islamic extremists have ravaged large areas of Burkina Faso since 2016. Two notable militant groups in the region are the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS) and Jama’at Nusrat al-Islam, or JNIM, which translates as ‘The Group Supporting Islam and Muslims’. Using the vast deserts of neighbouring Mali and Niger as a safe haven, the groups attack without warning, taking advantage of Burkina Faso’s limited military capability. “The terrorists are better armed than the army,” a local pastor said.

Islamist groups have taken control of roughly 40% of Burkina Faso, killed more than 10,000 people, and forced about 1.7 million, including many Muslims, to flee their homes and take refuge in camps for internally displaced people. The militants have specifically targeted Christians in the country since 2019, often focusing their attacks on pastors and Christian leaders as they seek to create an Islamic caliphate. One denomination reported that 500 pastors have been forced to flee in the past few years because of Islamist activity.

On 15 May 2023, gunmen attacked Yasmine’s town, located in northern Burkina Faso near the border with Mali. Her husband, Pastor Laurent Siadau, urged her to leave with him on their small motorcycle. But Yasmine didn’t want to leave her friend, so she decided to flee with her on foot while Laurent sped away on the motorcycle.

Hearing more gunshots behind them, the women ran into the forest and eventually found shelter in another town. Back in Yasmine’s town, government forces had arrived to confront the terrorists. Fighting between the Islamists and the military prevented Yasmine from returning home for more than 24 hours, and she was unable to reach her husband on his mobile phone.

When she was able to return home, Yasmine was shocked to see Laurent’s motorcycle lying outside their house. Two of her adult sons told her that for unknown reasons he had returned and run to the church next door, presumably to hide, and was shot in the head by Islamists inside the church.

Laurent had not been in full-time ministry very long. For most of his life, he had worked as a cook in the country’s capital, Ouagadougou. However in 2018, after all but one of his five children were grown, he began attending Bible school. Two years later, he sensed God calling him to minister in northern Burkina Faso, where Islamic extremists were already active and where many people were either Muslims or animists.

Yasmine said reaching people in that region was similar to working on a farm. “In the village, [the gospel] is like seed,” she said. She and Laurent planted gospel seeds and worked hard to cultivate them. Yasmine said that a fruit of Laurent’s prayer ministry was seeing his neighbours freed from spiritual oppression. “When I remember that,” she said, “I am very happy.”

One of the couple’s sons, Marcel recalled that not everyone in the family was in favour of their move to the dangerous region of northern Burkina Faso. Aunts, uncles, and other relatives warned him, “Don’t let your father go to that village; they don’t want him there.”

But Marcel said his father was committed to his call of working to advance the gospel. “He always told them that God called him to this village,” Marcel said, “and he must go to fulfil what God called him to do.”

Despite the brutality and injustice of Laurent’s murder, Yasmine said she does not feel anger towards his killers. “My heart’s desire is for God to make His Spirit meet these people,” she said, “and change their hearts like he met Saul on the way to Damascus.”

Marcel, too, prays that those who killed his father will repent and come to know the Lord “so one day they can also go to heaven”. Currently studying at a Bible training school, he is determined to follow in his father’s footsteps and enter the ministry.

“Pray for me to get involved in the ministry when I am finished,” Marcel said. “And [pray] for my uncles and other relatives who don’t know Jesus to meet Jesus and know that my father didn’t die for nothing. He died for the faith. He died for the gospel.”

Yasmine also requested prayer for perseverance in the faith. “Pray for me,” she said, “so God can comfort me and I will stay right in my faith until the end. I will see my husband [there]. That is my will and my wish.”

While still in the early stages of grief, Yasmine said she warmly recalls the work that she and Laurent did together, sowing gospel seeds in northern Burkina Faso. “I am really happy for what we have done there,” she said, “because many people have given their lives to Jesus Christ.”

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    One response to “Sowing Gospel Seed in a Dangerous Land”

    1. carolyn says:

      Marcel support, fearless energy,strength ; Bible School, Yasmine Perseverance in her faith, courage, strength, protection Psalm 91

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