What is God doing today among displaced people in sahel?
UN workers suggest that around 4.2 million people will be displaced in the Sahel in 2019. The primary cause is jihadi insurgencies in Senegal, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, Nigeria, Cameroon, Central Africa Republic, Chad, and Sudan. In Mali alone, IDPs have reached 120,000. Around the Lake Chad Basin, the number reaches 2.7 million. Nigeria has nearly 2 million IDPs, and Burkina Faso some 100,000.
Since a severe drought in 2018 ruined crops, cattle, and lands, survival is the greatest challenge. The deforestation, desertification, and over-farming of the semi-arid land, isolated floods, and the decline in river and lake levels are visible everywhere. The UN estimates that over 9 million people will face food shortages in 2019, especially in the Lake Chad Basin.
The Sahara Desert, north of the Sahel, is the most ungovernable region in the world, largely under the control of jihadists and flush with weapons from Libya. Yet it is through this same desert that people are fleeing to pursue their dreams in the West.
The village was attacked at night by jihadists, leaving dozens dead. Panic struck, and by dawn most families fled with whatever they could carry. Most walked toward the nearest river, where dugout canoes ferried them across for exorbitant prices. Everywhere they went, horrified villagers wondered if they would be targeted next. In exchange for information, the villagers offered water, some gruel, or if it is dusk, space to drop their plastic floor mats for the night. Families trekked to meet up with relatives, or to a refugee camp.
The modern routes across the Sahara Desert still follow the links between ancient oases. Overloaded and decrepit trucks now replace the camel caravans. Each load of human cargo is subject to a variety of sufferings, especially for women. For many the journey leads to North Africa, as they attempt to illegally enter Europe across the Mediterranean.
Whenever displaced people have relatives, they flee there. Most of the Christian compassion to IDPs is shouldered by extended Christian family and/or churches with ministry programs. If refugee workers are welcomed in camps, multiple compassion ministries can be offered: meals, tents, mosquito nets, blankets, medicine, water, sanitation, as well as children’s and women’s ministries, education, and training.
Specialized trauma care is given, as are Bibles in local languages. Through translators, Christians coordinate prayer meetings in camps, often linking them with local churches.
Even in refugee camps, Muslims seek to prevent fellow Muslims from the influences of Christian workers. The most fruitful outcomes usually follow when Muslim IDPs flee to Christian relatives or friends. Untold numbers of fleeing Muslims quietly come to Christ while being sheltered and cared for by Christian families or church communities.