From R.K.’s Corner
In spite of the President of the United States declaring, after the 2011 capture and killing of Osama Bin Laden, that al-Qaeda was on the run and Islamic terrorism is on the decline, the chilling facts of recent events prove differently. Just a couple of weeks ago, 20 US Embassies throughout the Islamic world were closed for fear of attacks by terrorists. In fact, atrocities against “infidels”, specifically the targeting of Christian believers, are steadily on the rise in those nations while the rest of the world, including the media, are silent bystanders.
A recent human rights report stated that, in 2012, 70% of Christians killed for their faith took place in Northern Nigeria. It was largely executed by an Islamic sect, Boko Haram, whose goal is to kill and drive out all the Christians from the twelve Northern states, secede from Nigeria proper, and fully execute Sharia Law for all remaining residents.
This caught my attention, as I remembered The Bridge’s investment into the Gospel in Northern Nigeria from 1999 through 2003. Through the partnership with Dr. Boyo, a Nigerian medical doctor, we financed the digging of two water wells in Muslim communities and sponsored ten medical missionaries who were sent from the South to the arid, Muslim-dominated Northwest of Nigeria to bring the light and life of the Gospel to the Dukawa tribe. Having not brought an update from that mission field for a number of years, I felt compelled to bring your attention to the systematic persecution taking place among our brothers and sisters in Christ in the North, specifically for the purpose of intercession and prayer for those who are suffering so much!
As I was researching this issue, a local Nigerian friend “happened “ to introduce Steve and me to a Pastor from Northern Nigeria who was a Muslim. Forty years ago, as a young man, he encountered the Gospel and came to faith in Jesus Christ. He is presently doing geo-political research in one of the universities nearby. Steve and I spent an evening with him and were deeply moved and impressed by his insight, knowledge and clear Biblical perspective on what is taking place in his homeland.
Our new friend emphasized the importance of – what we already know – distinguishing between Islam and being Muslim.
ISLAM is a religious belief system – a world view – which, at its core, ultimately commands its loyal adherents to kill all “infidels” (non-believers in Islam) through Jihad (holy war), for the purpose of ushering in world domination of Sharia Law in a pure Islamic world. The MUSLIM is a human being created and loved by God, but is a sinner and in need of God’s grace through Jesus Christ on par with all other human beings not born again. As such, a Muslim is to be treated with dignity and love!
CHRISTIANITY is also a belief system – a world view – which at its core commands the Followers of Jesus Christ to demonstrate a life of love and forgiveness. As they have also been forgiven, they are to accept all human beings as created by God – including Muslims! As believers in Jesus Christ, we reject Islam as belief system, but love the Muslims!
Please pray that the revelation and transforming power of the love of Jesus Christ will reach the hearts and minds of the members of Boko Haram, and that love and forgiveness will triumph among the Christians in the midst of their suffering, that they truly will shine as stars in the midst of a perverse and crooked generation!
The pictures here are from the December 2003 Bridge Report sent by Dr. Boyo, with an update on the 10 missionaries and two water wells sponsored by Bridge partners among the Muslim Dukawa tribe in Northeastern Nigeria. Following are a couple of quotes from the report:
“ There are a small team of indigenous Christian workers (the couple to the left is one of them) battling to spread the good news of our Lord Jesus Christ. They have forsaken the opportunities to live a far better life in the Christian part of Nigeria to go to the hinterland and demonstrate the love of Jesus to the Dukawa tribe, dominated by a strongly fundamentalist Muslim government. These families are courageous and willing, not only to live for Christ — but to suffer for Him – Phil 1:29
“Through the use of local and sustainable methods we were able to dig two wells. They are enhancing our thrust toward social responsibility, also helping to facilitate evangelism. The villagers come to fetch water from the ‘well the Christians built’. May thousands come to drink from the Well of Living Water, never to thirst again” – John 4:7-14
Since its 1960 independence, Nigeria was for decades ruled by dictators from prominent northern Muslim families. The corruption and nepotism of these dictators and the vast amounts of public funds they funneled back to their home states, as well as into Swiss accounts, is a matter of public record.
In 1999, a pro-democracy movement successfully ended military dictatorship and a Christian President from the South was elected. This resulted in horrific violence in the 12 Sharia-based Northern states the following year that left thousands dead when Christians protested peacefully. Such acts of violence continue to this day with virtual impunity.
In the last three years, an estimated 3000 Christians have been killed, including gruesome massacres executed in Jos in March, 2010, and Kano in January 2012. The eruption of violence in a 48 hour period after the April 2011 election of Christian President Goodluck Jonathan, left 764 church buildings burned, 204 Christians confirmed killed, more than 3,100 Christian-operated businesses, schools, and shops burned, and over 3,400 Christian homes destroyed.
Christian girls below the age of 18 are forcefully abducted and made to denounce their faith. Many families reject Western education, leaving their children with wandering Mallams (Islamic clerics) to be instructed in Islam while begging for their bread. The goal is to bring new recruits among unschooled and unemployed youth into Boko Haram, often by force (Excerpts ©Morning Star News).
Please pray for protection for the believers in Christ, and that they remain strong in faith and hope as they demonstrate forgiveness and love, and pray for those who persecute them!
BACKGROUND INFORMATION ON NIGERIA
Twice the size of Texas, Nigeria with a population of near 170 million, is the most populous country in Africa. Located on the Atlantic Ocean, it shares borders with Benin, Chad, Cameroon, and Niger. The country is divided into 36 states. The three main ethnic groups Hausa, Yoruba, and Igbo (formerly Ibo) comprise 60% of the population. The remainder consists of 250 minority groups who speak over 500 living languages,. The official language is English.
The colonization of Nigeria started in 1800 when Great Britain and France began the slave trade. In 1901, Nigeria became a British protectorate which lasted till 1960, when the country gained its independence. The Europeans settled in the South and along the coast, which caused the Yoruba and Igbo peoples to embrace Western style Christianity, education and culture. The majority of the wealth, however, lies in the North, as the control of the rich oil fields in the country were given to the Hausa who are predominantly Muslim, by the British when they left in 1960. In fact, 12 of the Northern states have embraced Sharia Law and are working toward becoming a pure Islamic nation. Hence, the Christian believers in that region are being pushed out, terrorized, mutilated, and killed.
The international statistic claims a ratio 50/50 Muslims to other faiths in Nigeria. Within the country, however, there is a counter-claim that the ration is 35/65. Where the atrocities are taking place, massive corruption of the rich vs. abject poverty, ignorance, lack of education, ethnic strife, territorial land disputes, and religious fanaticism are fueling the recruitment into radical Islam!