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Ken Elliott
Photo: World Watch Monitor

On January 15th, thousands took to the streets of Djibo, a town located in the province of Soum, to call for the government to secure the release of an elderly Australian doctor, Ken Elliott, who was kidnapped two years ago. The abduction was claimed by the 'Emirate of the Sahara,' a branch of Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb region of North Africa.

Dr. Elliott and his wife Jocelyn had run a 120-bed clinic in Djibo for 40 years until their abduction. Although Jocelyn was released in February of 2016, she did not want to leave Burkina Faso. (An audio recording presented by members of the militant group explained that Jocelyn was released because they did not want women involved in the war.)

Dubbed "the Doctor of the Poor," Dr. Elliott was providing free treatment to patients, saving them significant amounts of money and great inconvenience. After the closure of the clinic, people in Djibo are now required to travel hundreds of kilometres via poor transportation links in order to reach the capital, Ouagadougou, for medical care. Many in need of treatment lack financial resources for such lengthy travel, the required accommodation, and the treatment itself. Most affected by the closure of the clinic are children and the elderly.

Last July, Dr. Elliott appeared, along with several other Western hostages, in a video produced by the kidnappers. (This previous report provides further information on the kidnapping.) In the video, Dr. Elliott made an appeal to various governmental leaders -- in particular, those in Australia and Burkina Faso -- asking them to do what they can to help negotiate his release. The abducted doctor also addressed his family in the videotaped message, assuring them that he was looking forward to their hopeful reunion: "I just want to say again, I love you all, and I appreciate all your prayers and all your cares...."

During this time of great uncertainty, ask our loving Heavenly Father to sovereignly intervene in the lives of the remaining hostages while they patiently wait for their anticipated release. Pray that these surviving victims will receive protection, spiritual and physical fortitude, as well as proper nourishment and care while mediations continue between government representatives and the militants responsible for the abduction. May the workings of the Holy Spirit behind the scenes -- and within the hearts of all involved -- be evident throughout the process. Also intercede for the victims' distraught family members, friends and community members, that they be assured of the promises of God who "will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast" as they continue to trust in Him (Isaiah 26:3,4).