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Boats in Mali

On July 1st, a coalition of jihadist groups affiliated with al-Qaeda released a video showing six foreign hostages, including three missionaries, just hours before France president Emmanuel Macron made his most recent visit to Mali, offering help in support of the African nation's anti-terrorist efforts in the Sahel region. The three missionaries who appeared in the video are from Colombia, Australia and Switzerland.

A Colombian nun, Gloria Argoti, who is in her 60s, was kidnapped on February 7th when assailants broke into her convent in Karangasso, southern Mali. No news had previously emerged regarding her whereabouts, and no group has claimed responsibility for her abduction and detention. This is the first proof of life for the Colombian nun.

An 82-year-old Australian surgeon, Ken Elliott, was kidnapped in January 2016, along with his wife Jocelyn, from the town of Djibo in northern Burkina Faso, near the border with Mali. The couple were taken on the same day that al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) killed 29 victims in Burkina Faso's capital, Ouagadougou, including six Canadian Christians doing humanitarian work and an American missionary. Although Jocelyn was released a month later, her husband remains in detainment.

On January 15th, al-Qaeda's Ansar al-Dine terrorist group kidnapped Swiss Christian missionary Beatrice Stockli from her home in Timbuktu, Mali. This is the second time in four years that Beatrice has been kidnapped by militants. After the group seized control of Timbuktu, she was accused of proselytizing Christianity, held for ten days, and warned that she would be executed if she tried to return to Timbuktu. Despite the threat, Beatrice returned to Timbuktu in 2013 after French troops liberated the city. In January 2016, AQIM released a video showing Beatrice in full Islamic dress with an English-speaking jihadi proposing a prisoner swap.

Now a year later, another video was posted on social media showing a veiled Beatrice speaking in French, saying that she has been detained for 130 days but is in good health and has been treated well. She concluded by thanking her family and the Swiss government for all their efforts to secure her release. Additional background information on the kidnapping of Beatrice may be reviewed here.

However, there was no reference to the pioneering American missionary who was missing since last October. Jeff Woodke, who worked for a branch of Youth With A Mission, was abducted by unknown assailants late in the evening of October 14th from the town of Abalak in northern Niger. So far, little is known about Jeff's condition or whereabouts, other than news that his captors were tracked to neighbouring Mali by Nigerien authorities. On July 11th, a video was released by Els Woodke, expressing her despair, as well as her desire to be in touch with her husband's kidnappers. A report on Jeff's abduction is available here.

Ask the Lord to tangibly manifest His comforting presence among the kidnapped missionaries while they remain in captivity. Pray that the light of His love will flood their surroundings -- touching even the hearts of their captors -- while mediating for the believers' safe release. May the ministry of the Holy Spirit also console the families and friends of the missionaries, reminding them of God's promise to be a "very present help in trouble" (Psalm 46:1). In addition, please pray for the protection of the country's other foreign mission workers so that needed humanitarian aid can continue assisting the suffering people of Mali.

Country Information

Mali map & flagPopulation
20,137,527 (July 2021 est.)

Ethnicity (%)
Bambara (33.3), Fulani (Peul) (13.3), Sarakole/Soninke/Marka (9.8), Senufo/Manianka (9.6), Malinke (8.8), Dogon (8.7), Sonrai (5.9), Bobo (2.1), Tuareg/Bella (1.7), other Malian (6), from member of Economic Community of West African States (0.4%), other (0.3)
(2018)

Religion (%)
Muslim (93.9), Christian (2.8), Animist (0.7), none (2.5) (2018)

Leader
Transittional President Assimi Goita (2021)

Government type
Semi-presidential republic

Legal system
Civil law system based on the French civil law model and influenced by customary law; judicial review of legislative acts in Constitutional Court

Source: CIA World Factbook

Pray for Mali

Ask the Lord of the harvest to send people to boldly share the gospel with the largely Muslim population. Pray the existing churches will remain faithful, never giving in to the pressure of those who oppose them. Pray that the church will display the light of Christ amid jihadist activity.

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Mali News

  • Missionary Executed in Captivity
    Beatrice Stockli - Photo: World Watch Monitor
    Beatrice Stockli
    Photo: World Watch Monitor

    In January 2016, Beatrice Stockli was kidnapped in Timbuktu. The militant group, al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), has claimed responsibility, stating that Beatrice had "declared war against Islam in her attempt to Christianize Muslims" (read more

    ...
  • Raid of Three Villages Results in Tragic Loss
    Destruction of a church building - Photo: Barnabas Fund www.barnabasfund.org
    Photo: Barnabas Fund

    Suspected Fulani militants killed twenty-seven people in three predominantly Christian villages of Central Mali. The village of Tillé was raided on May 26th, resulting in the deaths of seven, some of them burned alive. Over the next 24 hours, the attackers moved on to the village

    ...
  • Militants Attack Churches in Northern Regions

    Niger River

    In late September and early October, at least three churches in the Mopti region have received "visits" from jihadists. In Dobara, the militants smashed their way into a church from which they removed crosses and furnishings that were later piled up outside and burned. In Bodwal, members of the same

    ...
  • Kidnapped Missionaries Appear in Video

    Boats in Mali

    On July 1st, a coalition of jihadist groups affiliated with al-Qaeda released a video showing six foreign hostages, including three missionaries, just hours before France president Emmanuel Macron made his most recent visit to Mali, offering help in support of the African nation's anti-terrorist eff

    ...