Yao’s First Christmas

By Douglas and Karen Conkle, serving in Burkina Faso

Doug and Karen serve in southern Burkina Faso among the agrarian Dogose, an animist people group that has had little gospel influence. In partnership with national Alliance pastor Pierre Palanfo, the Conkles are planting a church in the town of Mangodara, a primary Dogose population center.

The following story was published in December 2012.

Farmer Yao had “lost his mind.” He had become almost comatose, refusing to speak or leave his home.

Yao’s wife and friends were so concerned about him that they took him to Pastor Pierre. They’d heard that the Christians’ Jesus could heal people like Yao.

Evil Spirits

When Yao was asked what had happened, he was able to slowly tell his story. He recalled working in his field when he came across a group of “genies” (evil spirits) eating together. When they offered him food, he refused.

But at the moment he took a drink that the genies offered him, Yao lost his mental faculties. He removed his clothing and began wandering the countryside.

“This illness cannot be healed with medicine,” the pastor was told when he took Yao to the local medical clinic. So Pastor Pierre gathered the elders of the church, and they began praying earnestly for Yao.


When we arrived on a following Sunday for the worship service, I joined the pastor and the elders in praying that God would cast out the evil spirits that had taken control of Yao. We were led to ask Yao if we could burn the fetishes he had in his home. He agreed.

After they were burned, we began to see a change. Yao began going to church with his children and publicly testified of his deliverance by Jesus Christ. His wife committed her life to Christ.

When I visited him recently, I saw a jovial man with an outgoing personality following Jesus. This Christmas will be the first time Yao celebrates being a follower of Jesus—His Savior and Deliverer. Who is like our God?

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