OVERVIEW: Once an Islamic cultural center, Mali is a poor but growing country that remains nearly entirely Muslim. Although missionaries arrived in the early 1920s and have worked in most areas of the country, less than 1 percent of Malians are Christian today. Small congregations of believers continue to worship in towns known to be centers of Islamist activity. Several missionaries have been kidnapped in Mali or have been kidnapped and brought to Mali from neighboring countries since 2016. Most of these are still in captivity today. In 2017, threats by Islamist groups led some mission agencies to pull teams from the country.
MAJOR RELIGIONS: 88 percent of Malians are Sunni Muslims, with most also practicing animism. 3 percent are Christians, including less than 1 percent evangelicals.
PERSECUTOR: Islamic extremist groups persecute Christians in Mali.
WHAT IT MEANS TO FOLLOW CHRIST IN MALI: During the 2012 civil war, believers fled to the south as extremist groups in the north sought to create an Islamic state. Churches and pastors’ homes were destroyed, but believers were usually not otherwise harmed. Christian converts from Islam face harassment from family members and society. There are open and active churches in the north, but some believers are leaving for the south as the situation worsens. One pastor was forced to leave after receiving several significant death threats; his wife is still dealing with related trauma. A few evangelists have been imprisoned for short periods after being accused of proselytizing.
ACCESS TO BIBLES: It is difficult to obtain Bibles.
VOM WORK: VOM provides Bibles, pastor training and relocation for persecuted Christians.