In the village of Sidi, Burkina Faso, a number of villagers have become followers of Jesus through the ministry of the Evangelical Mennonite Church (EMBF) in that country. However, there have been ongoing tensions between the believers and the leaders of the village. The chief in the village threatened to use force of arms to chase the believers out of the village, or even to kill them because they were refusing to provide sacrifices for offerings to the ancestors. According to the chief they should therefore not have access to any land under village control. Without access to land for planting crops, the believers cannot survive.
There was a standoff of sorts. The leaders of the EMBF had attempted to gain protection for the believers from the regional political authority (Prefet). The Prefet said he needed to meet with village leaders but kept avoiding such a meeting.
During this time EMBF leaders wanted to send a pastor to shepherd the flock in Sidi, but the village leaders did not permit him to come and live in the village. So, Emmanuel Coulibaly took up residence in Fon, a nearby village, from which he regularly visits believers in Sidi.
Since the Prefet was not moving to resolve the situation, the village chiefs apparently did not feel that they could in reality proceed with the expulsion of the believers. An uneasy truce developed. In the spring of 2015 the believers went to plant their fields as they had done in previous years. Nothing happened.
Last year they were once again able to plant and harvest their crops. During harvest time the believers got the idea that they should approach the chief and offer to help him harvest his own cotton crop. They did so and he accepted!
This act of love and humility broke through the hostility that Salif, the chief, had demonstrated previously. When he accepted their offer to help him with his field he was accepting that they are part of his village.
Currently, tension in the village has greatly diminished and believers are once again preparing to seed their crops. The believers meet regularly for worship. The church building that Salif had threatened to destroy is still standing. And the church is alive and well in Sidi. Their loyalty to Jesus, who told us to “love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you”, is shining both within the village and well beyond.
- AIMM and EMC