A Thief’s Encounter

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10).

Since the gospel entered the village of Koumbia, the destroyer has fought to maintain his stronghold. Early Christians in the village were persecuted. Gathering places were destroyed, and masked witch doctors often surrounded prayer meetings, calling down curses while believers were interceding.

Attacks have not lessened since the church has grown. Two pastors from this village have had breakdowns. One has renounced his faith and become a leading witch doctor who wields much power.


One Sunday several weeks ago an Alliance team from nearby Bobo headed to this village, hoping to encourage the Alliance pastor and about 300 believers. We enjoyed an uplifting service, a productive meeting with the women about health and nutrition, significant interaction with church leaders, and a wonderful lunch at the pastor’s home.

But in the afternoon word came: a wallet had been stolen from one of our team members, who was there with other youth to present a soccer clinic. Police were at the church investigating.

This was devastating news.

Warfare through Worship

I knew immediately that someone had come to destroy the good work we had accomplished. “What kind of God are the Christians serving?” villagers would ask. “Does He not protect His own people?” It would be a matter of shame for our already fragile Alliance pastor.

Worshipers in Burkina Faso

One of the women entered the church to intercede, which she did for the next hour and a half; another went to console the pastor’s wife. The rest of us met with the church leaders to decide what to do next. I knew we could not leave the village until that wallet was found.

Once the decision of faith was made, we claimed before the church leaders that God was working. It would just be a matter of time before the wallet would be brought to us.

One young boy, Adama, had not answered the policemens’ questions directly, making him a lead suspect. I wanted to talk to him, so the pastor sent some church youth to find Adama. I asked some other boys to search the soccer field. “But, Madame, we have looked that field over several times, and it’s not there,” they said. I asked them to go one more time, believing they would find the wallet.

When Adama saw the youth coming to his house, he ran to the soccer field. He was hiding the wallet behind some bushes when the others arrived. They grabbed him and the wallet and returned to the church.


Spontaneous weeping and dancing broke out when the group arrived in the churchyard—the valued papers were in the wallet intact. The pastor’s wife was the first to begin dancing and singing, “Those who trust in the Lord will never be put to shame.”

We learned that 13-year-old Adama had been sent to live with his grandmother in Koumbia because his parents didn’t know what to do with him; he was an accomplished thief.

“I didn’t do it! I didn’t do it!” he cried in a loud voice. “Why are you accusing me? Stop accusing me!” An elder from the church said gently, “No one is accusing you. You are safe here.” In Burkina, thieves are beaten, but in the churchyard, Adama experienced the love and grace of God.

Our team member who had been in the church praying asked us to pray for Adama. We had forgotten his need for intercession. For many minutes, petitions went up to our Heavenly Father to set the young boy free.

As darkness fell, we departed the village, knowing that our God had given Koumbia an unforgettable victory.

But our story was not over.

On the way home I learned that money was missing from the stolen wallet. “The documents in the wallet are the important thing,” my teammates said. But I wasn’t convinced. I asked them to pray for Adama to have no peace until he admitted he had taken the wallet and the money.

The next morning, the Koumbia church pastor called me. A few minutes earlier, Adama had entered the church and sat down—in the very spot where our team member had been praying the afternoon before. When the pastor approached him, he held out the money with shaking hands. “Sir, it was I who took the wallet,” he said. “Here is the money.”

Adama had come to church that Sunday to steal. But because of believers’ prayer and perseverance in faith, he now knows the path to experiencing new life in Christ. He is attending church and spending time at the pastor’s house. Please pray with us that he will trust Christ as his Savior and be set free.

Pray also that as this story is told throughout Koumbia, many will put their faith in Jesus.

—Esther Schaeffer, serving in Bobo Dioulasso, Burkina Faso’s second largest city


The prayers of God’s people strengthen Alliance personnel to live and serve across the globe. Use the weekly Alliance Prayer Requests, joining our worldwide family in praying for them.


Gifts to the Great Commission Fund ensure the good news of Jesus is shared—in word and deed—in some of the most spiritually dark places on earth.

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Learn More

Watch a short video (1:09) to see how Alliance team members in Bobo are encouraging pastors to serve in challenging places like Koumbia.

Check out the Bobo team’s Web site.


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