Open Door reports – NIGERIA
Nigeria & Christian Persecution
Leader: President Muhammadu Buhari
Population: 183.5 million (89 million Christians)
Main Religion: Islam, Christianity
Government: Federal republic
World Watch List Rank: 10
Source of Persecution: Islamic extremism
Thousands of Christians have been killed or abducted by Boko Haram, the militant Islamist group who claim to have established a ‘caliphate’ (Islamic state) in northern Nigeria. On a smaller but no less devastating scale, Christians are also the target of Hausa-Fulani Muslim herdsmen, who have destroyed hundreds of churches and killed thousands of Christians. Twelve of the northern states have adopted Islamic law, and Christians are frequently discriminated against in this region, with Christian villages often lacking clean water and health clinics, and Christians being denied access to secondary school and higher education.
PERSECUTION IN NIGERIA
A girl sleeps peacefully in her school in Chibok, a place where she is able to learn, to laugh with her friends, to feel safe. Then one night, she is roughly woken by a man who points a gun at her. She is forced into a truck, along with many of her friends. It’s dark, but she feels the truck move. She doesn’t know where she is going, or if she will ever return.
The Chibok girls made the headlines when they were abducted in April 2014, but sadly their story is not an isolated one. Boko Haram, the militant Islamist group who took the Chibok girls, are responsible for thousands of deaths and abductions, mainly of Christians; they have been blamed for 4,000 deaths in 2014 alone. One woman who was kidnapped but managed to escape said: “Out of fear I have converted to Islam. Will Christ accept me back?”
Christians also face violent attack by Hausa-Fulani Muslim herdsmen. Although on a lesser scale, their attacks are no less devastating – they have killed thousands of Christians and destroyed or targeted hundreds of churches. And yet, several states are planning to give these herdsmen grazing fields out of the land of indigenous Christian communities.
In parts of northern Nigeria, where 12 states have adopted Islamic law, Christians have taken to dressing like Muslims to avoid being lynched. Christian girls are in very real danger of being abducted and forced to marry. Even when not being directly attacked, Christians in this region are discriminated against; their communities are often left without basic facilities such as clean water and health clinics, and access to secondary school or higher education is frequently denied to Christians.
There is concern that Christian youths will be tempted to retaliate against their Muslim neighbours, creating a cycle of violence. Yet many Christians are choosing to forgive and to continue to reach out to their communities. Damaris Atsen, whose husband was murdered in anti-Christian riots, says, “I have forgiven and God will help me to love everybody. It is not easy, but it is God that will give us the grace to love.”
- For an end to violence by Boko Haram and Hausa-Fulani Muslim herdsmen, and wisdom for the government to deal with these groups effectively
- For protection for Christians, particularly girls, and for the safe release of all who are held captive
- Praise God that, despite their fear, many Christians continue to reach out to their neighbours with the gospel. Ask God to use His church to shine as a light in the darkness.
Source : Open Door