Compass The Rev. Murtala Marti Dangora began his Christian life 25 years ago with a baptism of fire. While many people in Nigeria become Christians without difficulties, Rev. Dangoras decision to convert from Islam brought an instant death sentence from Muslim authorities. He has been detained, dragged to court, and publicly assaulted for receiving Christ. He came to a saving knowledge of Jesus in April 1980 through Haggai Latim, a missionary from the Evangelical Church of West Africa (ECWA).
I was attracted to Christianity because of the love showed to me by the missionary, Rev. Dangora said. In Islam, anybody who is not a Muslim is to be despised. We did not deal with people who are not Muslims, so when the missionary tried preaching to me, I hated him.
But the surprising thing is that this Christian missionary kept coming. He would always be around when something bad happened to me or my family. He was always there to encourage us. I was touched by his love towards me and my family. It was this act of love that moved me into resolving to become a Christian.
Then came persecutions. The Muslim leaders of his native Dangora village, in the Kiru area, ordered him arrested and brought before the community head.
I was interrogated as to why I got converted, and I was told that unless I renounced Christianity, I should be prepared to pay the price of leaving Islam death, he said. I was told clearly that the Quran provides that any Muslim that abandons the faith must die.
Muslim extremists have assaulted him, and Rev. Dangora realizes he easily could have died by now. It is God that has kept me alive to this very moment, he said. I would have been killed and forgotten years ago. It has happened to others.
Encouraged by the missionary who taught him the Bible, Rev. Dangora declined to return to Islam. After a year growing in the faith, Rev. Dangora gave a plot of land he inherited from his father to the missionary, Latim, so that a church could be built in Dangora village. This benevolence also earned him and Latim eight weeks of detention in a police cell.
I donated a parcel of land for the building of the church in that year , he said. The church had just been planted and we were in dire need of a place to worship. So, I gave the land out, and a small sanctuary was built to accommodate the worshipers.
Kiru authorities ordered him and Latim arrested. I was told by the police and council authorities that I had no right to donate my land to the church, he said.
According to Rev. Dangora, while in detention, the missionary encouraged him not to despair. At that time, I was only a year old in the Christian faith. I had just converted from Islam to Christianity, Dangora said. Latim told him that persecution is part of the Christian life and to expect it.
In detention, we sang Christian hymns, just like Paul and Silas did while in prison, Rev. Dangora said. The policemen, who were all Muslims, ordered us to shut up, but we ignored them and sang on joyfully.
After an eight-week trial, the court in Kiru convicted them of building a church without government approval and ordered them to demolish it.
Rev. Inusa Ado was the chairman of the Kano district of ECWA at that time, Rev. Dangora said. The officials came to Kiru and explained that we committed no wrong for building a church sanctuary. But the police and the council officials insisted that we must apply and get an approval from the government before we build a church in Kiru.
The demolition directive dismissed, Rev. Dangora obeyed the local government order to apply for approval. But as I am talking to you now, 25 years later, our application for the building of the church has not been granted, he said. Hundreds of churches in Kano state face such difficulties, he said…[Go To Full Story]