There is a pattern I want Nigerians to see that I believe they all are not seeing here. Currently, Syria is ridding itself of Christians, Libya, Jordan, Iran, and most countries in the Middle East and Asia. For some, it’s ethnic cleansing they call it and for others, they try to blame it on a terrorist group whose Ideology is based on holy wars (Jihad). They go further to say that these terrorists can’t be controlled and they are not a part of the government, in fact, they are an enemy of the government for supporting Western culture. So many times you hear them blaming the killing of Christians on vengeance towards the western culture with claims that the west spread their culture to instill control.
What is happening in Nigeria is no different, the killing of Christians, burning of churches, abduction of pastors, abusing and trafficking of female Christians as sex slaves, abuse of church doctrine, and disregard for church culture are all parts of the plan to rid the north of Christians the same way Libya and Syria are doing.
If Nigeria was a single religion state, do you think with the level of persecution happening around the world Nigeria would be any better than Syria? Let’s not forget Turkey, 98% Christians, today the very few Christians in the country are hiding for fear of the more than 98% Muslims that dwell there. It begins with the killing and abduction of one Christian, and when nothing is done about it another one is killed and at every instance increasing the death toll, until it becomes a norm. The government no longer want to get involved because of compromise with the powers that be who want to see the torture of Christians, so Christian’s become helpless since Christianity is a peaceful religion and the Government who are supposed to protect the rights of the Christian citizens don’t want to entangle themselves with religious matter except during elections.
What is happening in Nigeria today and other African countries where a good number of Muslims are is a follow-up of patterns. If one looks properly, one will see the pattern dated many years ago. You can call it middle East vengeance against Israel, action against western culture, Retaliation to previous Catholic Crusades, or ethnic cleansing, well to me it’s called persecution and it’s been the same pattern for ages.
Persecution is not peculiar to Nigerians only, however, the rate of killings in Nigeria especially in the north is very alarming. As a result of the violence, Christians are being dispossessed of their lands and means of livelihood, and Christians with Muslim backgrounds also face rejection from their own families. With the death toll rising by the day caused by either Boko’haram or Fulani herdsmen one would wonder if there are any regulations at all since Nigerian is not a one religion country. Several international bodies have tried to look into Nigerian cases not to mention the long list of NGOs regularly getting involved with unrest situations in northern Nigeria. With all their effort, the situation is getting worse.
February 2019 in Gusau, Zamfara State: Bandits abducted and killed an Anglican priest from the Diocese of Sokoto. His wife and children were also abducted and their whereabouts are unknown.
In April 2019 in Madagali, Adamawa State: At about 5:40 p.m., Boko Haram fighters invaded the predominantly Christian Kuda community in Madagali Local Government Area (LGA) of Adamawa State. Over 30 houses were set on fire and 23 people were killed, 20 of whom were Christians. Residents left the village to seek refuge in Gulak and other relatively safer parts of Adamawa State.
August 2019 in Lau LGA, Taraba State: A conflict between a radical Fulani herder and a farmer was the trigger for attacks and reprisal acts that continued for weeks and resulted in 65 deaths (most of them Christians) and 18 burned villages (with 15 churches, two elementary schools and a health center destroyed). Security forces that were deployed in the area did not intervene; on the contrary, in June 2019 many youths were arrested during protests against the violence and inaction of the local authorities
This year 2020 alone, hundreds have been killed and thousands homeless because of these killings in northern Nigeria. In a report issued on 15 May, the International Society for Civil Liberties and the Rule of Law (Intersociety) said that 620 Nigerian Christians have been killed since the beginning of the year, and mapped a campaign of destruction and arson carried out against churches in the African nation. All these are just a few of the issues in Nigeria.
Although they have been talks of envoys sent by President Donald Trump to Nigeria and a couple of other well-meaning international NGOs, no measure solution has been had. So the question is, is there any hope for the Nigerian Christians suffering persecution in the north?
The answer will be yes, but it’s not that simple. A typical Nigerian church thinks of only its members and their well being with lots of holier than thou attitude to it. As far as they are concerned other churches are on a different ship with a different captain and when faced with war should fight on their own with their own set of rules. An average Nigerian Christian doesn’t understand the term “Body Of Christ” either because they have not been taught or were taught wrongly. So an average Nigerian Christian sees other Christians from another denomination as a member of another Body of Christ, I wonder how many there are. So the issue of persecution on the northern Christians is not seen as an attack on the body of Christ but as an attack on that church. When something happens to a church in the north its talked about as a minor issue even among Christians and the next day everyone is back to their regular business, forgetting that in the body if one part suffers, the whole body suffers and until that part of the body is attended to, the body will not be ok. We have left the work of caring for the church to NGOs and we expect them to come to the rescue of the churches that are affected as if they are part of Christ’s body.
The church is powerful enough to fight any cause should they walk in unity without the help of NGOs, Multinationals and Government. Fighting persecution is a team effort because those who are persecuting don’t care which denomination they persecute all they are interested in is that you are a Christian (part of the body of Christ).
The Nigerian church needs to stop expecting help from America, Europe and the rest of the world and unite in prayer and common interest to tackle the issue of persecution in the north because today it might be the north, tomorrow it could be the south or east.