I’m just a normal person trying to understand a complex situation. I try to follow the news, read the reports, understand the lingo, and sound intelligent about it all, but my perceptions are undoubtedly mixed with some normal human gut reactions that come from a person who doesn’t just know Burkina Faso from the news, but from three years of life there.
So I get what I hear and read as I follow twitter and Facebook groups and read headlines and expert reports – the attacks, the raids, the shots fired, the kidnappings, the movement of terrorism, the spread of extreme Islamic teachings and beliefs. When most people hear about Burkina Faso, this is what comes to mind.
But when I hear “Burkina Faso”, I also think about my quiet mornings of jogging through corn fields and having a cup of tea on the front porch, of getting warm beignets from my favorite lady in town and then eating them with some of my dearest African friends as we talk about our morning devotionals.
I think about sitting in the dirt yard of an African sister as we pull the leaves off moringa branches to prepare a nutritional supplement for sixty orphaned or suffering babies who are being cared for by brave family members. We work until the sun goes down as we share news and stories of the day, and then one young girl who has been faithfully stirring the soup over an open fire for the last hour serves us a hot bowl that we eat with our hands.
I think about women and men singing and dancing around a different fire, one that was built on a Sunday morning to burn the household idols and fetishes of those who had turned from animism to the Lord Jesus Christ. I hear their responsive singing and the beat of a djembe, and I see the dust rising from their stomping feet and the light in their hope-filled eyes.
It is true: Burkina Faso is now a country marked by terror, but it also a country filled with genuine people who love their families and communities, who seek peace and truth, and who have made Burkina Faso feel very much like home. Even for a stranger like me.
It is true that the vague threat of terrorism that we knew five years ago has become a much more specific, strategic, and targeted reality that is unfortunately getting closer and closer to home. It’s used to be only in the north; now it’s all over the country, even very near to the city where I lived. It used to be only haphazard attacks, now it appears to be more strategic and militant. It used to be avoidable, not it seems to be imminent.
It could be political – residual anger from an upset army that was disbanded a few years ago when the corrupt dictator was overthrown. It could be ethnical – tensions from the two largest tribes in Burkina Faso. It could be religious – the spread of radical Islam teaching and beliefs against westerners and Christians. Probably, it’s an explosive mixture of all of the above. Spiritually, it’s all out war.
Sometimes, I stop browsing headlines and I pick up the phone to call a friend from Burkina Faso. Without doubt, she will talk for an hour about what God is doing, how the church is growing, how people are getting more serious about following Jesus, how evidence of spiritual revival is blowing across the villages. She will report that spiritual warfare is real and that hard things surround her, but then she will remind me that Satan is already defeated and that last night the whole church gathered on a random weeknight to pray against the enemy’s schemes by the power and authority of the blood of Jesus Christ.
And by her report, I understand more why Burkina Faso is in the news. I understand why a spiritual war is raging.
Because the kingdom of God is advancing and the enemy is naturally attacking anything that is strongly opposed to him.
Because a land that was once dominated by darkness is starting to come into the light.
Because Burkina Faso must be high valued real estate in the heavenly realms.
And because I’m talking to a warrior who is fighting on the front lines, in the heat of the battle.
Instead of seeing this whole scenario of terrorism and turmoil in Burkina Faso as a political or religious issue or complicated combination of both, I also want to see things with a heavenly lense, and when I think about the entire situation from God’s perspective, I am left with an overarching assurance. The Lord God is still on his throne, reigning over the nations and the events of all history to bring people to repentance and to know him through his son, Jesus Christ.
Is it coincidence that I’m reading the minor prophets? They mainly talk about God orchestrating events to bring judgement to the nations as a sincere, loving call to return to him. He hasn’t changed; he is still doing the same glorious work.
What’s my place in all this? And why do I bother to write about it? Because we must pray. Pray like it’s war. That has to be our proper response to knowing that God is working in Burkina Faso, that the enemy appears to be gaining ground and invoking terror, that God is still sovereign and reigning enthroned, and that the nations will ultimately obey his word of judgement and redemption.
Let’s rally around the believers in Burkina Faso and pick up arms with them. Even if we can’t be on the ground physically, we can join the fight spiritually by praying fervently for the kingdom to come and the will of God to be done in Burkina Faso.
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