Women and children walk through a makeshift site for displaced people in Kongoussi, Burkina Faso. (AP)

Women and children walk through a makeshift site for displaced people in Kongoussi, Burkina Faso. (AP)

A boy speaks to a nurse at a small clinic on the outskirts of Burkina Faso’s capital, Ouagadougou. (AP)

A boy speaks to a nurse at a small clinic on the outskirts of Burkina Faso’s capital, Ouagadougou. (AP)

A woman sits on the ground beside a sleeping child in Gampela village outside Ouagadougou. (AP)

A woman sits on the ground beside a sleeping child in Gampela village outside Ouagadougou. (AP)

Nurse Marguerite Ouangraoua opens the fridge where her clinic in Burkina Faso keeps vaccines. (AP)

Nurse Marguerite Ouangraoua opens the fridge where her clinic in Burkina Faso keeps vaccines. (AP)

Leaders of Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, and Niger, met with the French president and Spanish prime minister about military operations against Islamists in the Sahel. (AP)

Leaders of Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, and Niger, met with the French president and Spanish prime minister about military operations against Islamists in the Sahel. (AP)

Africa’s Belt

Posted: January 1, 2021

The Sahel region is like an imaginary belt that wraps across Africa. It forms a horizontal line from one side of the continent to the other. Above the belt is the dry Sahara Desert. Below the belt are tropical savannas.

There are 10 countries in the Sahel. Their land is barren. It doesn’t rain often. Drought wipes out crops. At other times, too much rain at once can cause problems. The area floods easily. The Sahel is familiar with famine. It doesn’t have enough food for people to survive.  

Several cultures also flood the Sahel region. Arabic, Islamic, and nomadic cultures settled north of the Sahel. Below the belt are native cultures. The people in the Sahel region represent a mix of these many cultures. They believe different things. They fight a lot. Violence rages all over the Sahel region. 

People living in Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger are hurting even more than the others. Over half the population of those countries are under 25 years old. They have lost their homes. They are hungry. Children are malnourished. Their bodies are not getting the nutrition that they need to thrive. That even affects how their brains will develop. Safe drinking water is scarce. Schools are shut down. People feel hopeless.

Suffering is real. It is hard to watch. We want to help make things better. The Bible talks a lot about suffering. Romans 5 tells us to rejoice in suffering because God uses hard things to help us trust Him more.

Revelation 21:4 is a beautiful promise. It offers hope that suffering will stop one day. “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

There are plenty of opportunities to help people who are suffering. We can show mercy. We can pray. And we can remember that suffering will not last forever. God will bring healing. He promises one day to fix all broken and sad things.