Thank you again for your prayers for the situation in Mali.
We received another update from Alison today and it was reported that a counter-coup attempt was staged in the past few days and that gunfire can still be heard in the capital, Bamako. Read more.
As we reported last month, Alison and Japhet Diarra and their kids evacuated from Mali into neighboring Burkina Faso, where they are now living. Japhet returned to Mali for about 10 days but just returned to Burkina on Sunday. They are all safe, but are longing to return to their home in Mali and are unsure when that might happen.
Alison sends us the following prayer requests for Mali in the Advocates Africa Prayer Calendar for May:
I start this prayer calendar with a prayer request for my beloved nation of Mali. The coup d'état that took place on 22 March was a surprise to many (and came only one month before Presidential elections were due to be held). Since then the rebellion that had been taking place in the north from mid-January intensified and the rebels now have control of 3/8 of the country - the regions of Kidal, Gao and Timbuktu. The situation has led to over 250'000 displaced people (either in the neighbouring countries of Burkina Faso, Niger, Mauritania and Algeria, or further south in Mali, where it is considered safer). These refugees are now in areas where famine was already a high probability, so there is now increased pressure on limited supplies. There is a very real humanitarian issue here, quite apart from the continued uncertainty that remains in the country as to what will happen when the 40 day period of transitional government ends on 22 May, and how control will be regained over the northern area of the country. The rebels in the north are a mixed group, mainly divisible into two: the MNLA which is seeking independence of those 3 regions over which they now have control (Azawad), and the Islamic group, Ansar Dine, which has links to Al-Qaida in the Islamic Magreb (AQIM) and is seeking to impose Sharia law over the whole of Mali. The risk of hostage taking by this latter group has led most of the foreign embassies requiring their nationals to evacuate the country for the time being, and thus most of the expatriate missionaries have had to temporarily leave the country.
1) For all those who are displaced because of this situation. (I guess my children and I count in these statistics as we are currently waiting this out in Burkina Faso. However, God has faithfully blessed us and we praise him for his provision for us in terms of shelter and financial support. We long to be back home in Mali though!)
2) For the transitional government that is in place and for all those involved in the decisions as to what will happen after this 40 day period is over. (There has been some tension over this amongst various actors in the Malian political scene, the leaders of the coup and the leaders of the ECOWAS states.)
3) For the Christian church in the north of Mali. Many churches have been destroyed and the vast majority of Christians from the north have fled south or to neighbouring countries, particularly from towns such as Timbuktu where the Ansar Dine have established strict Sharia law.
4) For a peaceful solution to the situation in the north of the country.
1) For the wonderful way in which the Malian church has united to meet the challenges of this situation (especially in terms of practical provision for those who have fled south to avoid the problems in the north), and for the way in which Christian leaders have been involved in the negotiations that have been taking place. Pray that the Malian church would be a real light to God's love in our country at this time.
2) That the coup was relatively bloodless, and negotiation is taking place as to the future. There is real hope, but Mali still desperately needs our prayers, particularly with regard to the situation in the north.
Please also pray for peace in nearby Guinea-Bissau which had its own coup on April 12. Read more.
Thanks again for your prayers.
May the Lord bless and keep you in His perfect. . .
Grace and Peace,