|Population||20 284 000|
|Christian Population||467 000 (2.3%)|
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.
“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
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.