Burkina Faso
March 14

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Area 274,200 sq.km. A landlocked country of the Sahel. Prone to drought and famine.

Population Ann.Gr. Density
2000 11,936,823 +2.77% 44 per sq. km.
2010 15,751,319 +2.85% 57 per sq. km.
2025 23,321,336 +2.46% 85 per sq. km.

Almost 2 million Burkinabé (people of Burkina Faso) have migrated to other lands: 80% to Côte d'Ivoire, others to Niger, Mali and France.

Capital Ouagadougou 1.13 mill. Urbanites 14%.


Over 77 distinct ethno-linguistic people groups in four major language families.

Gur-Voltaic (48 groups) 69.9%.

Oti-Volta: Moore (Mossi) 5.3m; Gurma 500,000; Dagaari 388,000; Bulli 109,000; Gurenne (Frafra) 33,000; Kusale 16,000. The Mossi are the dominant people in Burkina Faso and comprise 45% of the population.

Grusi: Nuna 145,000; Kuruma 196,000, Lyele 130,000; Kassena 111,000; Ko 21,000; Puguli 18,000; Sisaala 7,200.

Senufo: Karaboro(2) 85,000; Nanerge 56,000; Senari 50,000; Sicijuubi (Tagba) 38,000.

Other Gur: Lobi 373,000; Red Bobo(2) 210,000; Birifor 144,000; Gouin 82,000; Tusian(2) 66,000; Turka 60,000; Yana 21,000; Doghosie 19,000; Dyan 19,000; Tiefo 14,000; Kaanba 10,000; Vige 7,700; Komono 4,000.

Mande peoples 14.8%. Bissa 422,000; Black Bobo 312,000; Samo 197,000; Marka 186,000; Jula 133,000; Bolon 14,000; Sambla 13,000; Seeku 13,000.

West Atlantic 11%. Fulbe 1,310,000.

Other African 4.1%. Dogon 250,000; Songhai 169,000; Tuareg 30,000.

Non-Africans 0.2%. Arab 12,000; Westerners 9,500.

Literacy 14%. Official language French, spoken by 10% of the population. Trade languages Moore, Jula in south. All languages 71. Languages with Scriptures 6Bi 11NT 10por 26w.i.p.


One of the world's poorest countries, over 80% of the population relies on subsistence agriculture. The domestic economy is deprived of resources, and the national debt soars with attempts to Westernize. HDI 0.304; 171st/174. Public debt 44% of GNP. Income/person $320 (0.7% of USA).


Independent of France in 1960. Six coups since 1966. A military coup in 1987 ousted the then-leftist government, but the coup leader has since been elected twice to office. A republican democracy was formed in 1992, but most of the viable opposition to the ruling party was subsumed in a political merger in 1996.


Religions Population % Adherents Ann.Gr.
Muslim 50.00 5,968,412 +3.2%
Traditional ethnic 30.96 3,695,640 +2.4%
Christian 18.36 2,191,601 +2.0%
non-Religious/other 0.66 78,783 +8.6%
Baha'i 0.02 2,387 +18.1%

Christians Denom. Affil.% ,000 Ann.Gr.
Protestant 15 7.66 914 +2.2%
Independent 11 0.46 55 +7.5%
Catholic 1 10.21 1,219 +1.9%
Marginal 1 0.03 3 +3.0%

Churches MegaBloc Cong. Members Affiliates
Catholic C 1,575 708,721 1,219,000
Assemblies of God P 2,100 400,000 695,000
Chr and Miss Alliance P 328 17,017 74,369
Evang Ch Association P 400 26,000 65,000
Apostolic P 115 12,500 23,000
Apostolic Mission P 95 8,000 20,000
Baptist Convention P 123 7,435 12,000
Evang Pentecostal Assoc P 127 2,801 10,000
Protestant Evang P 72 1,500 7,500
Other denoms [19]   205 28,000 65,000
Total Christians [27]   5,140 1,212,000 2,191,000

Trans-bloc Groupings pop. % ,000 Ann.Gr.
Evangelical 8.0 949 +2.4%
Charismatic 7.2 854 +1.5%
  Pentecostal 6.3 749 +1.2%

Missionaries from Burkina Faso
P,I,A 46 in 7 agencies to 6 countries: Burkina 28, Niger 7, Togo 6.

Missionaries to Burkina Faso
P,I,A 410 in 35 agencies from 23 countries: USA 164, Canada 46, UK 46, Switzerland 45, France 33.
C 550. M 20.

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Answers to Prayer

1 The continuing growth of evangelical churches during the 1990's, when membership nearly doubled. The growth spurt of the early 1990s, however, has subsequently slowed.

2 Significant people movements with thousands of conversions among the Mossi (AoG), Lyele (IMB-SBC), Gurma (SIM), Bwamu, Bobo and Samo (CMA), Nuna and Sisaala (Canadian Pentecostals).

3 The vibrant AoG family of churches, with nearly 700,000 adherents and a strong missionary vision. Nearly half may have been converted from Muslim backgrounds.

Challenges for Prayer

1 The Unreached. Despite church growth, increased missionary exertions and greater responsiveness, there remain 24 peoples without an effective witness; 11 of these are Muslim. A more comprehensive survey is currently being undertaken but needs more local denominational backing. Most unevangelized lie within the area of witness of existing missions. Churches and missions working in areas with unreached people often tend to favour more responsive or closely-related peoples. Pray for the recruitment and deployment of pioneer workers from Africa and the world to evangelize the unreached. Specific challenges:

a) Muslims, who are stronger in the north but continue to grow in nearly every ethnic group. Only a fraction of the missionary force in Burkina is specifically committed to ministering among Muslims: the urbanized Soninke, Jula and the rural Tuareg in the north (WH, AoG); Bolon in the northwest and the Kurumba with some believers in the north (AoG); Songhai in the northeast; Doghosie, Komono in the south.

b) The partly nomadic Fulbe who are beginning to respond through the witness of three SIM teams, and AoG workers. This outreach needs to be expanded.

c) Unreached non-Muslim peoples: the Dogon of the northeast, the Bulsa and Gurenne on Ghana's border, many Senufo sub-groups in the southwest (CMA and Mennonites), and the numerous small groups of the south (WEC).

2 The power of the occult has yet to be decisively challenged and broken in many peoples of Burkina Faso. Few countries in West Africa are more dominated by idolatry, fetishism and secret societies. Even in the churches occult power is wielded, hampering and polluting the message of Christ. Especially strong is that of the many Lobiri peoples in the southwest (WEC), Gurma (SIM) in the east, Gurunsi (Canadian Pentecostals, AoG), Senufo and Bobo (CMA) in the west. Pray that the power of the risen Christ might be demonstrated for the saving of many.

3 The Catholics have grown steadily, but the rate of growth has slowed in the 1980s and 1990s with increasing losses to Islam. Around 10% of the Mossi and most of the Dagaari are Catholic, yet the strong idolatry and fetishism within the hearts of the converts is often unchallenged.

4 There is a serious spirit of denominationalism in Burkina Faso. Churches usually do not cooperate unless there is some obvious benefit. There is much talk of greater kingdom collaboration but rarely does any fruit come of it. Sadly, the larger denominations often seek to hinder the growth of the smaller or younger denominations and organisations; pray that the Holy Spirit might convict the hearts of believers and build unity among them for the greater glory of God.

5 The resources of the evangelical churches have been over-stretched by the influx of new converts. In fact, in some areas where there has been growth, many have since backslidden and some have become Muslims. There are many needs:

a) There are too few trained leaders. Pray for Bible schools run by the major churches and missions in local languages and in French (SIM, CMA, AoG, WEC and Pentecostals). It often seems that pastors lack training due to paternalistic attitudes on the part of the mission.

b) Economic hardship is widespread and literacy levels are very low, though higher among believers. Pray that national believers may overcome a "poverty and dependence mentality" and begin to give sacrificially of their resources.

c) Pray for church leaders at this vital time. Their success in church growth has created a great challenge: to disciple the many new believers. Pray for mature, godly wives for these pastors and evangelists, for there are a great many men in ministry who cannot find an appropriate helpmate. Pray for Christian leaders able to stand firm against the idolatrous practices of tribal society and against the demands of non-Christian national leaders.

d) The growing AIDS crisis is not being widely faced. Nearly 7% of the adult population has HIV. Vigilance is a Christian organization that promotes sexual abstinence and fidelity in the fight to prevent the spread of AIDS.

e) The Church in general does not yet have a strong missions vision. This is tied up with dependency issues and the churches' parent missions. Calvary Ministries, World Outreach and others work to mobilize churches and provide cross-cultural training to those called. Pray that the Lord might stir a strong grass roots movement that places missions at the top of church agendas.

6 Young people. They are better educated than their parents, but local prospects for employment and advancement are poor, so they are frustrated and disillusioned. Street kids are becoming common, as few jobs are available. There are few full-time workers targeting these young people. Pray for the work of SU in the high schools and the expanding ministry of CCCI and GBUAF (IFES) in the high schools and Ouagadougou University. There are over 1,500 linked with the latter in cell groups around the country and one group of 60 in the university. More staff to expand the work is a great need.

7 The massive emigration of Burkinabé to the cities and to Côte d'Ivoire is both a challenge and an opportunity for the gospel. The social upheavals, family breakdowns and economic stagnation caused by the emigration of most of the active men in the community are severe. There are estimated to be over 1.5 million Burkinabé in Côte d'Ivoire. As many as 70% of these convert to Islam within a few months of arrival. Burkina churches have been taking up the challenge by sending pastors and missionaries to these Burkinabé abroad, especially AoG, CMA and WEC, but more are needed. Pray for an abundant harvest and effective church planting.

8 Missionaries working in Burkina Faso have a vital role in a land of so much physical and spiritual need. The work has been hard, and victories long in coming. But receptivity is high, and missionaries are welcome. Major missions working in the country are SIL/WBT (76 workers), SIM (54), CMA (36), all Mennonites (34), AoG (32), IMB-SBC (30), Apostolic Church (23), WEC (14). Pray for their protection and encouragement. Missionary reinforcements are needed in a wide range of ministries.

9 VIMAB (the Burkinabé AoG) could become a success story of indigenous missions. AoG workers from Burkina Faso are beginning to be used to reach the surrounding nations, supported by Burkinabé churches. Most of their work, both inside and out of Burkina, is among the more evangelized Mossi. Pray that these dynamic churches might truly catch a vision to reach the unreached peoples among them and in neighboring nations. Pray for their growth as a mission sending body, and for the sacrificial ministry of both the missionaries and their supporters.

10 Christian aid and relief. Much has been coordinated by the Federation of Evangelical Churches as well as others such as CREDO. Much has been done in alleviating suffering and staving off future disasters. Literacy centres are being set up to enable a better future for many. Wisdom is needed by both missions and Christian leaders in the administration of this help, especially in such a poor country with so many infrastructure needs. The long-term presence of aid workers lends much credibility to the Christian cause and a willingness to listen. Pray for the hearts of both Muslims and fetishists to be opened to God's Word.

11 Bible translation is a ministry of major significance with 3 key bodies involved – UBS, ANTBA (a national translation and literacy agency) and SIL. Only 2 indigenous languages have the whole Bible – Moore and Bambara. SIL has 76 workers committed to 13 language programmes. Five other missions are involved in translation work in 15 languages. Present and future translators need prayer to complete the immense task. Literacy programmes are essential for many areas so that Burkinabé may read the new translations – ANTBA is doing extensive work in this area.

12 Media ministries. High levels of illiteracy and poverty and the limited availability of literature in local languages enhance the importance of other media.

a) Radio is being used to broadcast the gospel in 10 languages. Radio Evangélique Dévelopement is possibly the only indigenously launched and operated gospel radio in Africa. Local radio is used extensively by churches in different areas.

b) Audio materials for evangelism and teaching have not been adequately used, yet they are vital for ministry. GRN have made recordings in over 50 languages and dialects. In 1998 alone GRN translated material into 21 'tail-ender' languages which previously had no translated Scriptures.

c) The JESUS film is proving a key pioneer evangelistic tool in Bambara/Jula and is available in Bissa, Bomu, Dogon, French, Gurma, Gurenne, Kassena, Moore and Soninke. Pray for the ongoing translation into 21 other Burkinabé languages.

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