Mali

World Watch ranking: 14
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Leader
(Transitional) President Assimi Goïta

How many Christians?
497,000 (2.2%)

Main threats
  • Islamic oppression
  • Organised corruption and crime 

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How many Christians are there in Mali?

In a population of 22.1 million people, there are fewer than half a million Christians.

How are Christians persecuted in Mali?

The Islamic extremist insurgency that devastated the north of Mali in 2012 continues to have huge implications for the country’s small number of Christians, particularly in the north of the country.

Churches have been burned down and many Christians lost their homes and had to flee the region. Although some Christians and congregations have returned to the north under police protection, they still live under the threat of attack. Those living in areas controlled by militants have been denied access to water and land to grow crops. Believers who engage in evangelistic activities in the north are especially vulnerable to violence, while Christian missionaries live under the constant threat of abduction by jihadists. Those who leave Islam to follow Jesus risk violence and pressure from their relatives and communities if their new faith is discovered.

The jihadist violence is spreading southward, and the country's institutions are breaking apart at a fast rate, further playing into the hands of jihadist groups. The authorities’ inability to stem the insurgency has led to public protests and contributed to two military takeovers (in 2020 and 2021). The country has also become a geopolitical battleground between the west and east, making Christians vulnerable to government-related persecution. 

Meet ‘Adama’ 

“There are abductions, all kinds of attacks and banditry even in the city... Please pray for us that God will keep His children safe.” adama is a pastor in mali

What’s life like for Christians in Mali?

In April 2023, to give one example of the violence in the country, jihadists associated with so-called Islamic State captured the village of Tidermene, Menaka in north east Mali.

Since early 2022, a major jihadist offensive has been underway in the region of Menaka and that of Gao, further west. Since the departure of the French forces, at the end of 2022, the jihadists have stepped into the vacuum.

“Because of the insecurity in that part of the region, there is no known church in Menaka,” says a local Open Doors source. “Christians found in this area are mostly foreigners, travellers or soldiers.

“We are living under great threats in our area (northern Mali). The fear is increasing every day because we hear about fighting all the time. There are abductions, all kinds of attacks and banditry even in the city. The security situation is worsening. Please pray for us that God will keep His children safe,” says Adama*, a pastor of a church in Gao.

*Name changed for security reasons 

Is it getting harder to be a Christian in Mali? 

Mali has risen three places on the World Watch List and the persecution score has also risen, due to a small rise in violence and a significant increase in the pressures faced in national life. Christians remain in a highly precarious position given the rising influence of Islamic militancy in the country, with a deteriorating security situation. Violence against civilians, Christians in particular, and Christians in buildings and churches remain very high. Militants targeted Christians, schools and other government institutions, as well as some Muslims. 

But there has been some good news in the past year. Despite prominent Muslim leaders calling for Mali to become a ‘multiconfessional state’, raising concerns among Christians over what this could mean for them as a minority religion, in June, Malians approved a draft constitution that included the country remaining a secular state. Furthermore, the new constitution is being touted as a step towards elections in 2024, a return to civilian rule and stronger governance. There is hope that it will lead to greater protection of all Malians, including the country's vulnerable Christian minority.

How can I help Christians in Mali?

Please keep praying for your brothers and sisters in Mali. Your prayers make an enormous difference to those following Jesus no matter the cost.

Open Doors works through local church partners in Mali to provide persecution survival training, discipleship programmes and economic empowerment projects.

please pray

Dear Father, we pray for an end to the Islamic insurgency in Mali. Thwart the evil plans of militant groups, bring division in their ranks, and dispel their influence. Reveal Yourself to leaders through dreams and visions, so that they turn and follow You. Protect our brothers and sisters in Mali, and encourage them with the truth that Your Spirit is at work within them. Be especially near to those who are hurting, and may the comfort they receive from You overflow to those around them (2 Corinthians 1:4). Build Your church in Mali, we pray. Amen.

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