Compassion began it’s ministry in Burkina Faso in 2004 and we are now serving over 27,000 children across the country. More than 50% of the population claim to be Islamic, while only 6% claim to be Evangelical Christians. What is Burkina Faso doing to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ?
Burkina Faso is a small nation located in Northwest Africa with a population of just over 15 million people. After taking power in a 1983 coup, Thomas Sankara gave the country it’s present name – ‘land of honest men’.
Despite significant gold reserves, Burkina Faso is a poor country. Cotton production, the economic mainstay for many, is affected by recurring droughts and fluctuations in world prices, while unrest in neighbouring countries prevents several hundred thousand seasonal farm workers from finding employment there.
More and more children are suffering from malnutrition, particularly in the northern regions, where over 44 per cent of children under the age of five suffer from delayed or stunted growth. HIV/ AIDS also continues to spread among young people and an estimated 120,000 children have lost their parents to the disease.
Compassion has been working in Burkina Faso since 2004, giving the most vulnerable children access to education, medical care, nutritious food and knowledge of the love of Jesus. Compassion are currently supporting over 27,000 children across the country.
Burkina Faso is a predominantly Muslim nation with 50% of the nation practicing Islam. 40% of the population follow various indigenous beliefs, with just 10% professing to be Christians (mainly Roman Catholic)
Compassion exists to meet the needs of children living in extreme poverty and share with them the gospel of Jesus Christ. Every child is presented with their own age-appropriate copy of the Bible and sometimes it will get passed around several families in their village.
Augustin Agui Sanou and his family live in the suburbs of Bobo-Dioulasso, the second largest city in West Africa’s Burkina Faso. They live in a tiny house in a fenceless compound. Their monthly rent is about 20 U.S. dollars. There is no running water and no electricity. With his two siblings and parents, 10-year-old Augustin goes to the nearest church on Sundays. His mother, Marceline, sings in the women’s choir.
Augustin’s mother understands spoken French but she can’t read it. She says that sometimes, when she is doing chores, she secretly listens to Augustin read aloud passages of the Bible. “Sometimes, Augustin reads things that he does not understand. So I explain those passages to him in our dialect. So you see, we are complementary,” says Marceline.
Augustin knows and loves the Old Testament story of Joseph. He passionately tells the story to his classmates and other children in the neighbourhood. One morning, as he randomly turned the pages of his new illustrated children’s Bible, pausing to admire the cartoons, his eyes fell on a title that read “Les rêves de Joseph” (Gen. 37:1-11, Joseph’s dream). This was a major discovery in his life. He now knows two important things: the story about Joseph is real, and it has details his mother did not tell him.
Augustin attends a project that is set in the midst of multi-religious surroundings. With a predominant presence of Islamic institutions and culture, the vow to carry out the gospel to the whole community becomes a day-to-day struggle. Therefore, actions are taken daily to make the Word of God known to people.
Distributing Bibles to project children is part of those actions. In most Compassion-assisted projects in Burkina Faso, three age-related editions of the Bible are given to registered children.
A Bible in the hands of a child will reach many other children in the child’s community. Augustin’s Bible, for instance, has become a community Bible.
Every afternoon, when he arrives home, Augustin leaves his school bag and runs to the neighbours’ houses. He is going to get his Bible. Children in the neighbourhood, and sometimes their parents, borrow Augustin’s Bible to read in their families. His Bible sometimes spends whole days in the neighbourhood.
Tonight, Augustin will again light his kerosene lamp and lay on his mat to learn his school lessons and do his homework. No matter how long his studies take, the last of all things he does at the end of the day is to read the next page in his Bible. That’s what they are taught at the project.