Nigeria - 30% Evangelical primary language - English
In 2009 Nigeria’s President Umaru Yar’Adua became ill and died after the brief illness. He was replaced with Christian Southerner Goodluck Jonathan in February of 2010, who was sworn in as head of state.
On April 13, suspected Islamic extremists abducted and killed Church of Christ in Nigeria pastor Ishaku Kadah and his wife, Selina, in a village in Bauchi state in northern Nigeria, according to Compass Direct News. They were forced from their church headquarters home and killed.
The remains of a church in Kafanchan, Kaduna state. (Compass Direct photo)
In early March, ethnic Fulani Muslims attacked three villages near Jos which resulted in the deaths of up to 500 Christians and the burning of about 75 homes. Eyewitnesses say the attackers used knives and cutlasses while shouting “Allah Akbar” (God is great) during their assaults which were carried out not only against men, but against many women and children. Christians contacted the military for assistance, but it took over two hours for the military to arrive.
Less than two weeks later, Fulani Muslims attacked two more villages in Plateau state, resulting in the deaths of 13 more Christians, including a pregnant woman and children.
The violence against Christians is increasing every day in Africa’s most populous country, including the murder of seven Christians (of whom two were journalists) by Muslim youth gangs April 24-25.
In recent weeks, post-election violence has cost the lives of 300 Nigerian believers.
When Christian candidate Goodluck Jonathan defeated his Muslim opponent Muhammudu Buhari for presidency, rioting broke out across the country. Many Muslim voters claimed that the elections had been fraught with fraud.
International onlookers disagreed. “By all reports, it was the cleanest election since 1999,” confirms Paul Estabrooks with Open Doors, USA.
Nonetheless, Muslim extremists stormed churches and Christian homes in what Christian Nigerians called premeditated attacks.
Pastor James Musa Rike lost his wife, Dune James Rike, and 13-year-old daughter, Sum James Rike (in back), in an Islamic attack in Kurum village, Bauchi state. (Photo: Compass Direct)
Compass Direct News (CDN) has described the moving scene that took place recently in the home of a Nigerian pastor whose wife lay dying after a savage attack on his family (and their village), in which their children were also killed.
A CDN reporter said that as she lay on the ground after being shot and then slashed with a machete, Dune James Rike looked into her husband’s tear-filled eyes and asked, “Is this the end between us, so we shall not be together again?”
Pastor James Musa Rike told Compass that he held the hands of his dying, 35-year-old wife and told her, “Hold on to your faith in Jesus, and we shall meet and never part again.”
The story went on to say that Muslim extremists who attacked Kurum village–in the Bogoro local government area of Nigeria’s Bauchi state–had already killed two of their children in a rampage that began Wednesday (May 4, 2011) at midnight.
The reporter said that Rike, the pastor of a Church of Christ in Nigeria congregation in Kurum, next heard the cries of his 13-year-old daughter, Sum James Rike, who lay mortally wounded a few yards away.
“She told me that the Muslim militants told her they would kill her and ‘see how your Jesus will save you,’” he said. The girl told her father that she responded by telling them that Jesus had already saved her, and that by killing her they would only be making it possible for her to be with Him.
“Pastor Rike prayed for her as she died. Shooting and setting homes on fire, the Muslim extremists killed 12 other Christians in the attack. Bauchi police reported 16 dead — one man, three women and 12 children,” said CDN. “Pastor Rike and his son survived the attack, and his adopted daughter, Whulham James Rike, was injured and receiving treatment at the General Hospital in Bogoro, along with five others. The assailants set more than 20 houses ablaze before leaving the village, police said.”
Northern Nigeria climbed to 23rd place in 2010 from 27th in 2009 on Christian support organization Open Doors’ World Watch List of nations with the worst persecution.
Those killed were members of the three churches in the village – the COCIN church, St. John’s Catholic Church and an Evangelical Church of West Africa congregation,” said CDN and added that Pastor Rike said the incident has strengthened his faith in Jesus.
“Whatever is the situation, I will never forsake Christ,” he said. “All human beings are created by God, and our attackers must know that they need to abandon anything that will lead them to destroy creations of God.”
While persecution is creating a culture of fear, Moeller doesn’t expect it to affect church growth long-term. “First, over the course of time in a given country, as persecution increases, it really serves to spread the Gospel, as we saw in the New Testament. Secondly, in dozens of countries over the years where persecution has increased dramatically, the church has also grown dramatically.”
An estimated 100 million Christians worldwide suffer interrogation, arrest and even death for their faith in Christ, with millions more facing discrimination and alienation. Open Doors supports and strengthens believers in the world’s most difficult areas through Bible and Christian literature distribution, leadership training and assistance, Christian community development, prayer and presence ministry and advocacy on behalf of suffering believers. To partner with Open Doors USA, call toll free at 888-5-BIBLE-5 (888-524-2535) or go to the Open Doors Web site at www.OpenDoorsUSA.org.
From Mission Network News (via) Let the Nations Be Glad Twitter