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Region   Africa
Population   20 284 000
Christian Population   467 000 (2.3%)
Main Religion   Islam
2021 Ranking   28
2020 Ranking   29


When Islamic extremist groups took control of the northern part of the country in 2012, churches were burned down and Christians were forced to flee. The displacement that happened still affects Christians who lost their homes and whose churches were destroyed. Although some Christians and congregations have returned to the north under police protection, they still live under the threat of attack by Islamic militants.

Evangelistic activities in the north are especially risky and could lead to attacks from Islamic extremists. Christian missionaries operating in Mali also live under the constant threat of abduction and some have indeed been kidnapped by jihadists. If their conversion from Islam to Christianity is discovered, Christians risk violence (especially in the north) and pressure from their relatives and family.

Even in the south of the country, where Christians enjoy more religious freedom, threats from Islamic extremist groups have increased. Additionally, the coup in late summer 2020 continued Mali’s political upheaval, leaving the door open for extremist elements to take root in places without strong leadership. Extremists have also used the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic to assert more control in some parts of Mali, one of Africa’s poorest countries. As these groups often particularly target Christians, this is a worrying trend for Christians, although it remains to be seen what the country’s interim leadership will mean for religious freedom.

Meet Naomi*

“More than once, my family sent jihadists to my house to kill us [or at least intimidate us]. Their plans never worked. But one day, while my husband was on a business trip, he was gunned down. He was killed for his faith, and for marrying an ex-Muslim. His colleagues delivered the terrible news to me. [Even now], I have no idea what happened to his body.”

As a Muslim-background believer who lives in Mali, Naomi was forced to flee Timbuktu in the north during the jihadist rebellion of 2012. She ended up living in an informal, internally displaced people (IDP) camp in Mali’s capital city, Bamako. Open Doors have been able to help Naomi rent a home after the IDP camp was closed. While she continues to suffer discrimination in society, her siblings, who greatly persecuted Naomi after her conversion, have become Christians, too. Naomi continues to take care of the entire family through a business she started with Open Doors’ support.

*Name changed for security reasons


Pray for Mali

  • Pray for Christians still trying to rebuild their homes, churches and lives after being forced to flee in 2012. Many areas continue to be unstable, and followers of Jesus are at risk of violence.
  • Pray for the interim government that took over the country in mid-2020. Pray the new leaders will fight for and advocate for religious freedom for people of all faiths, and that they would be able to help Mali come out of the COVID-19 crisis with justice and freedom.
  • Pray for the Islamic extremist groups targeting Christians in Mali. Pray God will soften their hearts and give them ears to hear and eyes to see the glory of His Gospel and grace.

What does Open Doors do to help Christians in Mali?

In partnership with the local church, Open Doors serves vulnerable Christians in Mali by providing Bibles, training pastors and believers in the various aspects of Christian life and ministry, and offering socio-economic aid to persecuted Christians. Through local partnerships, Open Doors also assists with persecution preparedness training, Bible distribution and literacy training.

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