BAMAKO, MALI (BosNewsLife)-- A Christian aid and advocacy group has set up shelters for Christian converts in heavily Islamic Mali, which has been ravaged by civil war and Islamic extremism.
Voice Of the Martyrs (VOM) told BosNewsLife that it had set up "several safe houses" in southern Mali where Christian converts were forced to flee their communities "due to serious life-endangering threats made by members of their own Muslim families."
"When they fled from Islamist militants in the north, most left their possessions behind, including their Bibles," VOM said in a statement.
VOM said besides providing shelter its workers also provide the local Christians with new Bibles.
"As a result, these believers are not only able to cultivate nearby farmland for physical sustenance, they are now also equipped with the spiritual tools required to grow in their faith through daily prayer times, group classes and individual Bible study," the group explained.
It said it had urged its supporters to "pray for God's continued provision and protection, as these believers seek to grow and become strengthened in their faith."
Thousands of civilians have fled Mali, where French peacekeepers have tried to restore calm.
The landlocked West African country of Mali is one of the poorest in the world. It experienced economic growth after the 1990s, but this was threatened last year with the collapse of state control over the north of the country followed by an inconclusive military coup.
French military intervention was deemed crucial against against Islamic militants, who threatened to advance south. Christians comprise just over 2 percent of the mainly Muslim population of nearly 16 million people, according to official estimates.
(BosNewsLife, the first truly independent news agency covering persecuted Christians, is 'Breaking the News for Compassionate Professionals' since 2004).
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