Since the beginning of 2023, 1,000 Christians have been martyred in Nigeria due to specific planned attacks on their meeting places and homes. Last month alone, 29 Christians were killed in Nigeria. In fact, a known 52,250 Christians, including their children, have been slaughtered due to attack from Boko Haram Jihadists since 2009. During this time, 18,000 churches and 2,200 Christian schools have been set ablaze. 707 Christians have been (reportedly) kidnapped and about 5 million Christians have been displaced and forced into Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps within Nigeria and refugee camps at regional and sub-regional borders.
As I read this news at my office desk, part of me asks myself why this matters; it has no specific effect on me. The other part of me remembers the World Bible School program we have here at Choctaw and my heart sinks. Nigeria is one of the places we minister to through the program. In reality, it’s very possible some of these tragedies have affected brothers and sisters that we have ministered to.
In the freest country in the world, where it’s quite easy to be a Christian I might add, Christianity is in decline. Yet, the countries all over the world that are persecuting Christians are growing in conversions to Christianity. It’s astounding when I realize people are converting even when they know the likelihood that militants will come into their home to rape and kill their families. That preachers and teachers still preach and teach even though they are being kidnapped and made “an example of” in the community. They attend church services and Christians schools knowing someone might burn it down while they are inside. This type of Christianity is radical and unknown to us here in America. May we thank God for this wonderful blessing.
As we go on this week, may we keep our brothers and sisters in Christ in our prayers. Even though we are a world apart, we are much closer than we think. Let us build them up to God in prayer. Pray that they continue to have the spirit to literally keep fighting the good fight. Let us pray for the protection of the children who are innocent bystanders. May we pray that the Gospel continues to flourish and bring hope to the downtrodden. Finally, may we pray that the hearts of the people committing these atrocities are changed and they turn to God.
“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ's sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.” 1 Peter 4:12-14