The Shumaker Family's Blog

Coup d’état in Burkina Faso

On Wednesday, September 16th, I spent most of the day with our pastors and youth in a special music seminary. I came home in the late afternoon and got cleaned up to take my wife out on a belated birthday date. (Rebecca, on her actual birthday, went on visitation, went to ladies meeting, taught three teenagers discipleship courses, and went to youth meeting. I am so proud of her and how she puts others before herself.)

We were going to drop our kids off at our teammates’ house (the Knickerbockers). As we began to pull out of the garage, my guard stopped us and said that the president and the prime minster were taken hostage. We are currently in a transitional government here in Burkina Faso. Last year the dictator was kicked out, and we were supposed to have elections for a new president on October 11th. The general population was happy, thinking that they might actually have a chance for a true democracy. I immediately went by the church to see what our pastors knew. They gave us confirmation of the hostage situation. I asked one of them what we should do. He said, “Don’t go in town; it is better to go home.” I was very disappointed for my wife as she was looking forward to going out for days, but we went home instead.

That night things began to get crazy. The population, mostly youth, tried to take to the street but the Presidential guard (those responsible for the coup) came out in force. They fired their guns in the air, and would beat many of the youth. As youth fled, the presidential guard (PG) burned their motos. All the radio and television stations in town were shut down. They even managed to destroy our DSL system. The next morning, a coup d’état was confirmed. For days the battle between youth and the PG group continued all over town. I even watched from our roof as men from the guard began to beat some youth that were gathered across the field.

After many days, the military decided to come from all over the country. The PG is an elite group of 1,300 members, and they are by far the best trained. They also had the best weapons, but some of them began to realize that they didn’t want to be a part of what was happening. Probably more than half of them fled. The army gave the PG an ultimatum: surrender or a fight would start. The leader of PG decided that his goal wasn’t to create a civil war, and he decided to talk with the military leaders. The PG was told to begin to turn in their arms and those that were responsible for atrocities would be judged.

I was on a trip out of town last Monday and Tuesday. Monday evening we heard that the PG, after turning in some of the arms, decided they didn’t want to turn in all of them. I got in Tuesday Afternoon to excitement. I had finished dropping somebody off when all of the sudden I heard a noise and my car shook. I looked around thinking somebody hit my car. Then I arrived home and stepped out of my car and heard a huge boom. The military behind our house was firing off some heavy artillery. We heard many more shots. The military went into the PG base and secured all the arms Tuesday evening. Things seem to be back to normal. Thanks for those who have been praying for us.

Some things that have touched me from the situation:

  • I am amazed at the Burkina people. Last fall they united and ran off the dictator. They destroyed only houses and things that were from those who were part of the corrupt government. In some of the recent months in America, we have seen people in some of our cities strike over situations, but they were out of control. They looted, destroyed things they shouldn’t and even destroyed their own neighborhoods. The Burkinabes stayed very controlled, and they even called a special day to clean up the roads and damages.   I am proud to be called a pastor to so many of these great people. I have a deep respect for their fight for true freedom and democracy.
  • My wife has amazed me through this. We have seen many foreigners who were scared and tried or wanted to leave. Many said we needed to pack our bags, but my wife said, “Why? We aren’t going anywhere.” She asked me over the course of a few days, “How could we leave these people during the time they need us most?” You see, over the last 10 years of being in this country I am no longer just a missionary to these people. Yes, Americans consider me a missionary, but I am a pastor to these people, and my wife is a pastor’s wife. Somebody told me the other day that my skin color hasn’t changed but my heart is Burkinabe. I have to say that makes me smile.



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One Response to “Coup d’état in Burkina Faso”

  1. Andrea Fortner Says:

    I praise God that you were kept safe in this volatile situation, and pray that He will keep His hand on you and family and people. I don’t know if others in the U.S. heard about this, but I certainly didn’t. Keeping you all in my prayers.

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    Rome Baptist Temple
    P.O. Box 1023
    Rome, GA 30162
    Pastor: Dr. Billy Goolesby
    Phone: (706)232-8969

    06 BP 9460 Ouagadougou 06
    Burkina Faso
    Phone: (706)534-8965

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    Braselton, GA 30517

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