Bobo-Dioulasso is a city of 1.5 million in Burkina Faso, West Africa, where a number of evangelical denominations are represented, including The Alliance. Just as in the American church, believers are a diverse mix of ages, languages, ethnic groups, and social classes. They’ve also experienced deep divisions.
“Some claim only the baptisms done in their church count; others don’t approve of different worship styles,” says Alliance international worker, Esther Schaeffer, who serves on the Bobo team. “Some put a congregation down because the majority of people are from a different ethnic group.”
Unity through Intercession
In recent weeks, however, these previously fractured groups of believers have overcome their differences, uniting in prayer for a citywide evangelistic campaign December 1–4.
At one prayer meeting before the event, 300 believers gathered at the Central Alliance Church led by an Assemblies of God pastor. Leaders from other evangelical denominations sat on the platform, representing churches that had previously ministered in isolation or experienced doctrinal differences.
But at this gathering, “The congregation stood on its feet for nearly two hours, crying out to the Lord for the salvation of this great city,” Esther says, noting that one of the city’s largest churches canceled its regular programs leading up to the campaign.
“Leadership wanted to free their members to be involved in the nightly prayer meetings and counselor training sessions.”
Believers also met for prayer 7–11 p.m. in three locations across the city in the weeks prior to the event. “I was surprised to see the women’s group from one of our Alliance churches at one prayer meeting,” Esther says.
“Just months ago this church had almost closed due to a power struggle between the elders and the pastor. These women courageously decided to join other believers in prayer for their city.”
Thousands Make Decisions to Follow Christ
As a result of Bobo believers’ unified efforts, “we witnessed thousands raising their hands to accept Christ during the four-day campaign,” Esther says.
She and her husband, Andrew, the Alliance team leader couple in Bobo, note that it can be difficult in Africa to obtain a true count of those who made faith decisions.
“Some of those raising their hands may have been believers who wanted copies of the follow-up discipleship pamphlet organizers had produced for new converts,” Andrew observes.
A Beautiful Sight
During the crusade, pastors representing all of the evangelical denominations in the city were called upon to pray for the sick and for the deliverance of those in bondage. Hundreds of fetishes were burned.
Esther also reports witnessing a pastor’s wife who had been paralyzed walking for the first time in three months. A young boy who had become deaf due to meningitis began to hear. Others threw away crutches and carried wheelchairs, indicating they had been healed.
“We sensed a huge calm and peace being in that massive crowd, standing for three hours, praying, praising, and listening to the Word of God,” Esther adds.
“Church members were scattered throughout the evening meetings, taking down contact information for follow up, laying hands on the sick, praying with those who wanted to receive Christ—it was a beautiful sight.”
One believer told Andrew that she wished Bobo churches would organize a campaign like this twice a year “because it brought the churches in our city together and gave people a chance to lay their sins, illnesses, and addictions at Jesus’ feet.”
“As believers look for ways to work together, finding common ground—remembering the one thing that matters—the blessing of Christ pours out upon us. We experienced that here in Bobo-Dioulasso. To Christ only be all the glory!
“In these last days before the return of Christ, intercede for believers around the world to come together in unity (see John 17:20–23),” Esther urges. “Let our goal be to bring as many into the heavenly Kingdom as possible.”
Photos courtesy of Alliance international workers Esther and Andrew Schaeffer