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A princess shunned

International | Letter from Burkina Faso

Issue: "Face Off," Aug. 9, 1997

These last few months have brought both joy and sadness for the Kaan believers in West Africa. The daughter of the Kaan king has converted to Christianity. As a result, the king has disowned her.

The princess left her husband years ago in the Ivory Coast because of abuse and lives with her two children in Gaoua, Burkina Faso. There she works as a secretary and guide at a small museum established by a French anthropologist. This makes it even harder for her because the museum leadership criticizes people for leaving their traditional religion for Christianity. She has been attending an evangelical church in Gaoua and has received counsel and support from other Christians there. But the going is rough right now.

Also from Gaoua we received very sad news. A dear couple lost their second child, Emmanuel. Husband Albert travelled to Ouagadougou for six days and returned to the village to find his son ill with a raging fever and near death. His wife Abina had delayed treating Emmanuel at the local clinic until Albert returned, afraid of incurring a heavy debt without her husband's permission. Emmanuel died the next day.

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This is a crushing blow to all of us. Abina is the first Kaan girl who refused the rite of excision (a form of female circumcision) because of her Christian faith. The curse that all Kaan girls fear is that unless they are excised, their babies will die. In 1994 Abina lost her first child to a bronchial infection. Emmanuel was born last spring to great rejoicing.

For the last two days I have been reading in the Psalms and in Job, and have found much comfort in the cries of anguish and faith expressed in these beautiful poems. Our comfort in times like this of despair and loss is in the suffering Christ, who himself was "despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering."

We read these words and are comforted; yet the Kaan cannot share in this comfort because these words have not yet been translated into their language. How can the young church stand firm in the face of such suffering without the Scriptures in their own tongue?

Mr. Showalter serves in Burkina Faso with the Summer Institute of Linguistics and Wycliffe Bible Translators.

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