J. Lee Grady on Nigeria’s Persecuted Christians Are Begging Us for Help

A Christian woman wears a rosary at a procession during a ritual to mark the death of Jesus Christ on Good Friday in Nigeria’s commercial capital Lagos. April 10, 2009. (Reuters/Akintunde Akinleye)

Nigeria is like a second home to me. I’ve been there 10 times.

I’ve feasted on goat and jollaf rice in Port Harcourt, danced for hours with Christians in Akure and Abuja, and joked with friends about the horrible traffic jams in Lagos. My Nigerian brothers and sisters are some of the most passionate believers on planet Earth.

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Yet today their faith is under severe attack, and the world doesn’t seem to care.

So many Christians have been killed in recent months in northern Nigeria that international humanitarian groups have labeled the situation a genocide. But you will rarely hear anything about this on Western news broadcasts.

More than 1,000 Nigerian Christians were killed in 2019 by Muslim extremists from the Fulani tribe, according to the U.K.-based Humanitarian Aid Relief Trust. The group estimates that there have been 6,000 Christians killed since 2015 and up to 12,000 displaced from their homes. The atrocities happened mainly in Plateau, Kaduna and Taraba states in the north.

“Most Christians in Nigeria think there is a plot to Islamacize Nigeria,” says my friend Kelechi Okengwu, who studied at the University of Bradford in England and now serves churches in eastern Nigeria and lectures on security issues. He says Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari, who is Muslim, has entrusted all security forces into the hands of northern Muslims. And Buhari is doing little to respond to the violence.

In addition, Okengwu says, the chief justice of Nigeria, Ibrahim Muhammad, in December called for an amendment to the constitution to accommodate sharia law—a step that violates basic principles of a secular state.

Recent attacks by the Fulani herdsmen, as well as violent kidnappings and church-burnings by Boko Haram, an Islamic terrorist group, have made Nigeria one of the most dangerous places on earth to be a Christian. According to Open Doors, Nigeria has the 12th-worst persecution of Christians on the planet. Christians have been shot as well as burned to death.

In a video made in 2018, a pastor named Ezekiel Dachomo, from the Church of Christ in Nigeria, issued an urgent plea that has been widely ignored, even though the video was verified and is still circulating. Dachomo begged for international help after a pastor and his wife and children were slaughtered by the Fulanis. He said, in part: “America, please stand for us. We are dying. Please, allow us to survive. We have nobody. Only God in heaven can stand for us. Please, I am begging you. … We are now ready to do [our] last prayers, since an Islamic agenda is taking over the nation.”

Last week, I interviewed Rev. Tunde Bolanta, a Pentecostal pastor who planted Restoration Bible Church in Kaduna, Nigeria, in 1987. He is begging Western believers to pray for the dire situation.

Here are portions of that interview.

1. Muslims have been persecuting Christians in the north of Nigeria for many years. Is it getting more intense now?

Rev. Bolanta: “Persecution is more intense because both Boko Haram terrorists and Fulani herdsmen are invading villages. Churches have been burned, Christians have been killed, women have been raped, farmlands have been burned and many Christians have been displaced from their ancestral homes. The kidnapping of pastors and Christians has become a business. The attackers demand huge ransoms, thereby draining resources from the Christian community. Some victims have even been killed after the ransom was paid.”

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SOURCE: Charisma News

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