Boko Haram translated; “Western education is forbidden” in Hausa is an Islamic sect that believes politics in northern Nigeria has been seized by a group of corrupt, false Muslims. It wants to wage a war against them, and the Federal Republic of Nigeria generally, to create a “pure” Islamic state ruled by sharia law. The group started in 2009 and has been attacking Police and government institutions in Northern Nigeria. Nigeria has had a history of communal and religious conflict between Muslims and Christians – the Nigerian Muslims with the influence of some Islamic nations across the globe, wanted Nigeria to become an Islamic country. For that reason, Christians in Nigeria more especially Northern Nigeria are facing persecution of different kinds. Since August 2011 Boko Haram has planted bombs almost weekly in public or in churches in Nigeria’s northeast. They have killed, adopted and displaced a lot of Christians across the country – parents are killed in front of their children, wives are raped in front of their husbands, captives of the Boko Haram are forced to deny their faith for their lives and safety, young virgins are giving away as sex slaves to the Boko Haram fighters (militant), this and many more has been the situation of Christian communities in Nigeria. It looks like the end of Christianity in Nigeria has come – many people deny their faith and accept the Islamic religion, some return to traditional religion; this happens because they feel God does not hear their cry, they need to protect themselves.
Amidst this struggle for survival – a situation where you don’t see a glimpse of light, you don’t have confidence on what tomorrow will bring, there are no words from heaven to give you confidence; pastors and spiritual fathers became short of words (message of hope is no longer relevant; God seems silent), faith is threatened as in the days of Israelites when they were faced with the Philistine’s giant (Goliath) – in this difficult situation Christians in the North still trust God for intervention. We hold vigils and spend nights praying and crying to God for deliverance – while many Christians lose faith and blame God for not listening, we trust him and hold onto his words. Though his words sound empty, yet, there was a still voice speaking to our ears “I know it all, be strong and courageous.”
What built our faith back in those difficult times was our communion and reading of the scriptures. When we come together as the body of Christ and sing songs of praise, we feel secured and relieved from the grip of fear. We read from the scriptures for example: Ex 3:7; The Lord said, “I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering, and Ch. 14:13; Moses answered the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again.” This gives us confidence that God is aware of our misery and is about to do something. Words of Christ in the N.T also become our strongholds such as; John 15:18; 16:33, Matt. 24:9-10 and sundry.
Yes, we have been persecuted, our friends and loved once have been slaughtered in our own eyes, we were displaced, impoverished, demoralized and left with nothing, but glory be to god – Christianity in Northern Nigeria is growing, many Muslims believed in Jesus Christ because of our attitude towards the ongoing persecution – perseverance, love and unity in faith. Jesus is exalted in our suffering; we sing songs of praise and hold hands in unity when our enemies attack. God turn their evil plans, He led us through the storms, we live and prosper, and His blessings all around us. Glory is to God the father, to Jesus Christ the son and to the Holy Spirit the comforter. Amen!
Martin H. Kamaidan
Saved by Grace