Widow Turned Evangelistby Jonathan Racho “Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live!” Deuteronomy 30:19
Selome is an amazing woman of God whose story grips our hearts, as in the midst of her sorrow, she chose life over spiritual death.
During the Muslim-Christian attacks in Nigeria of 2003, Selome’s husband was tragically murdered. Devastated, Selome was faced with raising their four children as a single mother.
As she grieved the death of her beloved husband, the Spirit of God comforted her, and healed her heart from the hatred she felt towards her husband’s murderers. Instead of choosing hate and revenge (which many would find justifiable), Selome chose to commit herself to the salvation of her husband’s murderers. She is now an active evangelist in the Muslim community, bringing the good news of Jesus Christ to her neighbors.
ICC was able to assist Selome by providing her with funds to start a small business, which allows her to support her growing family.
Please keep Selome in your prayers today. If you would like to support women like Selome, please donate today, and designate your gift to “Suffering Wives and Children.”
The Life of Christian DhimmiBy Jonathan Racho The word “dhimmi” is an Islamic term for non-Muslims, in particular, members of the Christian and Jewish faith who are living on “Islamic land.” This prejudicial phrase demotes Christians to second-class citizenship, and they are subject to humiliation and mistreatment. Millions of Christians in Northern Nigeria are forced to live as dhimmis.
When I met retired Pastor David,* I came face to face with a dhimmi. Pastor David lives among Muslims, and his church was among the many that have been attacked. He said that he knew the attackers by name; they were his neighbors.
However, as a Christian dhimmi, he has no right to bring charges against his oppressors. Because of the violence his church as endured, half of the congregation has flocked to safer regions, leaving 150 believers left in the area.
Sadly, the Muslim attacks succeeded in not only dwindling the congregation down, but also in silencing those who remain. The Christians who were brave enough to stay put no longer evangelize to their unsaved neighbors. Pastor David explained that in the past, Christians were able to preach the Gospel, but they are forbidden to do so now. The consequences are too much to risk.
Pastor David explained that Christians live in constant fear: will there be an attack today? The next day? The next day? “If the opportunity arises, the Muslims could attack us,” Pastor David said. “No matter what happens, we will continue worshipping the Lord.”
Pastor David requested that we pray specifically for the Lord to strengthen the faith of the Christians left behind in Nigeria.
*name changed for security
While families slept soundly, men of the village patrolled the perimeters of Ta-Kwok, safeguarding their loved ones and neighbors from intruders. On this particular November night in 2011, a section of this Nigerian Christian village had gone unguarded, and a group of strangers entered the village, intent on leaving with blood on their swords.
The Muslim attackers, fueled by a notion that Christians are enemies to Islam, raided the village, shouting “Allah Akbar!” and “Jihad!” as they ran through the village. Twenty-nine Christians were killed that night because of their faith. Many were wounded beyond repair, like Kajyng John, pictured below, whose left hand was cut off during the violence.
If losing her hand was not devastating enough, Kajyng also lost her husband and one of her children that night.
A year later, Kajyang is still not able to work due to the damage she suffered. As a farmer, she needs her hands to work. She lives off the kindness and generosity of her community. Although thankful for their support, she worries about her future and her five remaining children whom she is responsible for.
The attack on her village took her loving husband, her child, and her hand; but the radicals also stole from Kajyng her livelihood and peace of mind. Attacks against Christians do end with the loss of loved ones—believers continue to suffer consequences of violence; the terror has a lasting impact.
As you pray for the persecuted, please pray for strength to rely on the Lord, and to not lose faith. Pray for a burst of reassurance that our Heavenly Father has not forgotten them. Pray for daily reminders of God’s promise to take care of us, that as He provides the needs of the birds in the sky and the fish in the sea, so he provides the needs of his most treasured creation.
To increase our awareness and effectiveness overseas, ICC routinely sends Regional Managers into the field to collect data and make contacts. Our Regional Manager to Africa recently returned from Nigeria.
By now, many of you know about the unspeakable level of violence against Christians in Nigeria. But I warn you: do not be fooled by what the media tells us. The truth is, you cannot fully grasp the plight of the persecuted Christians in Nigeria until you actually visit them. That is why I decided to fly to Nigeria to see to myself what is really happening to the persecuted church there. Nothing prepared me to what I saw.
I experienced the pain of the Christians in northern Nigeria in less than an hour after I landed in the country. My host Rev. Samuel Ayoba (name changed for security reasons) picked me up from the airport and we started driving to the city of Kaduna. As we drove, my mind started to wonder to the different stories I have read about attacks on Christians. Hoping that it was just me, I asked Rev. Ayoba, “How safe is this road? Are we going to be stopped by the Islamic radicals and get killed?” Instead of reassuring me of our safety, the reverend looked into my eyes and said, “Anything could happen. All we could do is to entrust ourselves to God.” As soon as I heard those words, I felt the pain of living in constant fear. I noticed that we were the only car on the road, and my mind became clouded with suspicion and questions: It’s getting late. Where are the other cars? When will we get there? But I told myself not to be shaken and focus on trusting the Lord.
As we drove towards Kaduna, I saw several mosques. A friend told me that Muslims receive funds from Saudi Arabia and other wealthy Muslim countries to build the mosques. Some of those mosques are then used for teaching hatred against Christians.
When we finally arrived in Kaduna, it was obvious to see evidence of violence in the city. There were check points every few miles. Shortly before I arrived, Islamists carried out a suicide bomb attack targeting a church. They missed their target, but the attacker killed over 40, mainly Muslims who happened to be near the church.
I stayed in Nigeria for 10 days. During my time there, I spoke with dozens of victims of persecution. I visited villages decimated by Islamic violence. One of the saddest days of the trip was when I was asked to speak at the funeral of a Christian who was killed. The man was killed after he visited his father, an evangelist who is living among Muslims.
I came face to face with what it means to go through persecution. I was also reminded of how important it is to stand with the body of Christ that undergoes persecution. I came back from Nigeria with the passion to work more to help the oppressed. One of the victims that ICC helped said to me, “You make us feel that somebody cares for us.” Let us continue making them feel that they are loved!
Following the election of Christian candidate Jonathan Goodluck in the Nigerian presidential election, Muslim mobs carried out simultaneous attacks against Christian minorities in most of the northern Nigerian states. While impartial observers have called this election the fairest in decades, the attackers alleged that the election was rigged and that General Muhammadu Buhari, a Muslim presidential candidate, was the rightful winner.
Though Nigerian authorities quickly organized mass burials of the victims in order to hide the details of the massacre, our sources estimate that hundreds of Christians were slaughtered. One of our sources travelled to the towns of Zonkwa and Kafanchan in Kaduna, where more than 300 people, mostly Christians, were massacred.
Muslims were also among the dead as the militants killed fellow Muslims who had voted for President Goodluck, and Christians in some areas killed Muslims in defense of their lives and families.
The Muslim attackers also burned down 308 churches (see one such church below) and several Christian homes.
Christian leaders in northern Nigeria are calling for a full investigation of the violence. ICC is also calling for a full investigation and urging the Nigerian government to bring all the perpetrators of the killings to justice. Hiding the facts will only worsen the situation. The truth has to be told and the impunity must end.
Below is a map of northern Nigeria in which we’ve indicated the states in which Christians were killed in these attacks with a red cross. The violence also extended to Borno, Niger, and Yobe, where a total of 50 churches were burned, but no deaths were reported.The states under Sharia law are indicated by the Islamic crescent.
In the beginning of 2010, we reported that Muslim radicals had raided villages in Jos, Nigeria and slaughtered more than 500 Christians – mostly women and children. This attack was followed by other smaller outbreaks of violence as persecution continued to escalate against Christians in Nigeria. Nine months later, while Christians around the world were celebrating Christmas Eve, believers in the Nigerian cities of Jos and Madiuguri spent the night in mourning.
Thirty-eight people were killed when explosions rocked the city of Jos (the city’s name is an acronym for Jesus Our Savior) – a death toll which increased to more than 80 following ensuing clashes between Muslim and Christian youth.
The city of Madiguri mourned the loss of six believers who were brutally murdered when Islamists attacked two area churches. Pastor Bulus Marwa of Victory Baptist Church was martyred along with four other members of his congregation – Philip Luka, Paul Mathew, Christopher Balami and Yohana Adamu.
The church’s secretary, who escaped the attack, said, “I cannot understand these attacks. Why Christians? Why Christians? The police have failed to protect us.”
One other Christian was killed in the attack on the Church of Christ in Nigeria.
A Muslim group, Jama’atu Ahlus-Sunnah Lidda’Awati Wal Jihad, took responsibility for the bombings in Jos. The group, whose name translates into English as “the organization of followers of the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad and champions of Islam and holy wars,” said that it was “avenging the atrocities committed against Muslims in those areas, and the country in general.” Members of the group warned that “we will continue with our attacks on disbelievers and their allies and all those who help them.”
Please continue to keep our brothers and sisters in Nigeria in prayer. Unfortunately, unlike many areas where Christians are persecuted, Christians in Jos have also been involved in attacks against Muslims. We understand the human impulse to take revenge when such horrific attacks occur with impunity, but as Christians we are strongly warned against taking vengeance into our own hands.
Washington, D.C. (July 6, 2010)–International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that this past weekend Muslims attacked Christian villages and killed at least eight Christians in Kaduna and Plateau States of northern Nigeria.
On the night of July 3, several Muslims attacked Kizachi village in Kaduna State and killed five Christians, including a primary school teacher and mother of six children. The Muslims also burned down five Christian homes.
Nigerian sources told ICC that the police had stopped protecting the village on July 2 after the government failed to pay their salaries.
In the second attack, on the night of July 4, 200 Muslims armed with guns and machetes invaded Ganawuri community, near Jos. Three Christians are feared dead.
A spokesperson of the Nigerian military’s Special Task Force (STF), Lt. Col. Kingsley Umoh, stated that the attackers were suspected herdsmen from neighboring communities of Kaduna State.
According to Umoh, STF received a distress call which they responded to, and engaged in a fire fight with the attackers. One of the attackers received gunshot wounds and six were arrested. Those arrested have since been handed over to the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) of the state police command for further investigations.
This latest violence came on the heels of a March 7 jihad attack against Christians in Jos in which over 500 mainly women and children were murdered. It is estimated that many more thousands of Christians have been killed in northern Nigeria since the introduction of Sharia law in 2001.
Jonathan Racho, ICC’s Regional Manager for Africa, said “We are outraged by the latest killings of Christians in northern Nigeria. Once again, Nigerian officials have failed to provide needed security for the citizens of Kaduna and Plateau States. We urge Nigerian authorities to quickly bring all the perpetrators of the attacks to justice and fully investigate the lapse in security.”
As promised, we’ve uploaded a new interview with one of our representatives on the ground in Nigeria who spoke with survivors of the attack to hear their stories.
The sound quality is not the best, but we hope you’ll listen carefully! Just press play below.
A few excerpts from this interview:
“When I visited Byei village, there was no single security presence. So that means these people are exposed to danger. … I saw few security men near Dogo Nahawa…about five of them, and I don’t think those security men are capable enough to prevent any thing at all. And that shows the danger that Christians in that community face.”
“These attacks have actually encouraged and strengthened (the Christians) in their faith. The people have resolved to remain firm and strong in their faith in Jesus Christ. …They are committed to their Christian faith and to continue to serve the Lord.”
“A pastor’s wife, her head was cut off (and) she was buried without a head. In that church (where her husband is the pastor) the Sunday after the incident, people came in that burned church to praise God. To sing praises to the Lord. To affirm their faith in Jesus Christ.”
We just sent an investigative team into the villages in Nigeria where over 500 Christians were slaughtered. We will be posting an interview with our representative who talked to survivors of the attack to hear their accounts of what happened. One interesting bit of information that we learned is that there was one man who was standing around watching the massacre (and possibly directing), and that the military is saying that they did not intervene because they were “overwhelmed” by the vast number of well-armed Muslims.
We also hope to bring you fresh video interviews from some of these eye witnesses as well as the audio of our interview with our representative. Be sure to check back on Monday afternoon!
As the media continues to neglect or spin the massacre of 500 Christian believers in Nigeria, ICC is working to put pressure on the Nigerian government to make real changes to their military forces as well as to their justice system.
In February, ICC brought a Nigerian political leader to Capitol Hill to speak with Congressmen and Senators about the plight of Christians in northern Nigeria. As a result of our efforts there, approximately 40 members of Congress are about to send a joint letter to the Nigerian legislature, holding them accountable to “bring the perpetrators of the attacks to justice, provide redress for the victims of the violence, and ensure the safety of the minority religious communities in Nigeria.”
In addition, a prominent senator with a great deal of influence in Africa has also already sent an individual letter (below) to Nigerian leaders asking them for the same. We expect these efforts to send ripples throughout Nigerian society.
Now, with these latest attacks, we are planning a major media effort to call for the resignation of military head Saleh Maina, the General Officer Commanding (GOC) 3rd Armored Division in Jos, Plateau State.
Nigerian Governor Jonah Jang has said that the massacre could have been prevented if the GOC had only acted when he contacted him by phone to warn him of the impending attack the night before.
Beyond that warning, ICC has learned from Nigerian representatives on the ground that standard military check points should have prevented the free movement of so many armed Muslims. Strangely in this case, such movement did not even arouse suspicion. We have also learned that some of the Muslims involved in the most recent attack were wearing new military uniforms specifically issued to prevent militants from posing as soldiers.
For this effort to work, given the failure of mainstream media, we need you to share these blogs, stories, and interviews with everyone you know! Despite the grievous level of this atrocity, many are still not even aware that it occurred. Utilize the “Spread the Word” link below to share any content we’ve posted here on Twitter, Facebook, or any other social networking site. Thank you!