Muslims help to build a church in Burkina Faso

Dec 30, 2019 by

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BOBO-DIOULASSO, Burkina Faso — The Mennonite church in Burkina Faso has grown both physically and relationally over a decade, and the newest church is being built by Christians and Muslims working together.

Steve Wiebe-Johnson, left, Mennonite Mission Network co-director for Africa and Europe, and Siaka ­Traoré, a retired church leader, stand on the foundation of the new Kodeni Mennonite Church building in Burkina Faso. — Rod Hollinger-Janzen/AIMM

Steve Wiebe-Johnson, left, Mennonite Mission Network co-director for Africa and Europe, and Siaka ­Traoré, a retired church leader, stand on the foundation of the new Kodeni Mennonite Church building in Burkina Faso. — Rod Hollinger-Janzen/AIMM

Churches were first planted around Bobo-Dioulasso, and today worship takes place in three locations, the newest in Kodeni.

It began with Ousmane Hié, a teenager from Kodeni, who was forced to end his education due to lack of family resources. He worked for two years as an apprentice to an auto mechanic.

“My wife, Claire, and I saw much potential in Ousmane, and Claire helped him get back into school,” said Siaka Traoré, who has retired from formal leadership positions with the Evangelical Mennonite Church of Burkina Faso.

Each Sunday, Ousmane and three of his siblings walked about three miles from Kodeni to attend the Mennonite church in Bobo. Claire Traoré helped them get their paperwork in order so they, too, could attend school. These four children were the beginning of the Mennonite church in their village.

Three evening meetings were held in Kodeni to celebrate World Day of Evangelism in 2016. Because of this outreach, more than 50 children gathered for worship and Sunday school in a classroom of a nearby public school. This church plant is led by Samuel Traoré, a Bible school student from the Bobo congregation.

Believing this new congregation would soon outgrow a classroom, a plot of land was sought. As soon as the land was purchased, people from the church visited those living in the neighborhood. All Muslims, they extended a warm welcome and began giving valuable building tips.

“Each time we visited our new plot of land, we first visited our neighbors, especially the family of the imam whose property adjoined our church plot,” Traoré said. “God seemed to precede each encounter and soften their hearts so that they were friendly toward us, even though there is much distrust and persecution between Christians and Muslims in our country.

“Because of our good relationship with the imam’s family, we asked if they would guard our construction materials — cement, boards, shovels and wheelbarrows — against theft.

“What is even more remarkable is that when our church members have work days, Muslim youth come and help us build our church.”

As the church gets money for cement, it makes bricks. A foundation is laid with the hope of putting up walls soon.

Guided by 1 Peter 2:9, the new congregation hopes to be a church of peace that builds relationships with everyone, without laying aside a distinctive identity.


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