Rescuing and serving persecuted Christians since 1995
Select Page

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_custom_heading text=”” use_theme_fonts=”yes”][vc_custom_heading text=”By Nathan Johnson” font_container=”tag:h6|text_align:left” use_theme_fonts=”yes” css=”.vc_custom_1544647150480{margin-bottom: 22px !important;}”][vc_single_image image=”99592″ img_size=”full” add_caption=”yes” alignment=”center”][vc_column_text]12/12/2018 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – It is nothing new for internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Nigeria to experience pain and loss. This is especially true as we enter into the Christmas season. Tens of thousands of families in Nigeria have lost relatives, property, and security. They have been forced to flee from attacks by both Boko Haram and Fulani militants. These attacks have left entire villages and towns abandoned and forced families to seek shelter in camps and friends’ homes.

For most in the Western world, Christmas is a time to celebrate; a time for gifts and remembering the blessings we have been given. To understand what IDPs are going through, International Christian Concern (ICC) recently visited a camp in Plateau State, Nigeria, and met with one of the leaders of the camp, Mr. Irmiya Magit.

He said, “[I am] a native Christian from Nghar of Gashsish District, Barkin Ladi LGA, one of the many communities that recently suffered a bloodbath which [killed] over 300 people, mostly women and children. I am a leader of this camp where life has not been easy for us as a people. This is our first experience of terrorism meted out on us by jihadists, some of whom we have known for a long time without knowing that they could commit such an atrocity.”

The event he recalled took place on June 23-25, 2018. During this attack, radical Fulani militants raided multiple villages in southern Plateau State. They killed hundreds of people, destroyed hundreds of homes, and displaced thousands of families. Currently, most of these villages are occupied by Fulani herders who, though they may not have been involved in the killing, have continued to graze on lands and farms owned by those who had to flee.

Mr. Magit continued, “We are left alone like convicted criminals ready to be executed. Imagine since we were displaced [in June], the government has only brought a small set of foodstuffs [once, despite claims in the media that we will receive much more help].”  However, he said, “I also want to use this medium to make it known that if not because of intervention from some NGOs and the Church on the Plateau, we might have died of starvation. We really appreciate the hosting communities too for hosting us freely.”[/vc_column_text][vc_custom_heading text=”“This is our first experience of terrorism meted out on us by jihadists, some of whom we have known for a long time without knowing that they could commit such an atrocity.”” font_container=”tag:h5|text_align:left” use_theme_fonts=”yes” css=”.vc_custom_1544647315151{margin-top: 50px !important;margin-bottom: 60px !important;padding-right: 20px !important;padding-left: 20px !important;}”][vc_column_text css=”.vc_custom_1544647263002{margin-bottom: 0px !important;}”]

When asked how the people were feeling this Christmas, he paused for a long while before responding, “When we were in our ancestral homesteads, everyone was living relatively in [peace and prosperity]. We communally contribute money weekly in order to have sufficient funds for purchases of children’s clothes, cows, sheep, goats, fowls, turkeys, rice, beans, and other assorted items to make the yuletide very precious and pleasurable for everyone. We even had a moonlight concert usually organized by each community/church for all to attend and share with visitors and relatives the blessings of the season.”

He paused again with a sigh before continuing, “Today, we have been forcefully made to sing the Lord’s songs in IDP camps, lands that don’t belong to us, not because we have committed any wrong, but because we are Christians.”

In reaction to how children in the camps are going to cope with Christmas, Mr. Irmiya Magit dishearteningly expressed his personal experience. He said, “I am a man with a wife and six children who have never missed Christmas clothes and other precious items. Now, I cannot help out due to what happened to the church of God in this part of the world. The children have been insisting that we should all return home so that they can then enjoy the yuletide as previously observed.

He continued, “It is on the basis of such pleas and pressures that some of the IDPs decided to return to commence settlement in some dilapidated structures pending when they fix up the destroyed building through self-effort, but were coercively sent back by new occupants of that area. That incident halted those who had intentions of going back to celebrate Christmas in their homesteads. Sincerely speaking, we are not finding it easy from our children on one side and Fulani on the other side. We don’t know what to do now.

He added, “We will keep on appealing to the children to understand that life and health are more precious than clothes, and that it would not continue like this, for it shall one day be over and our previous pleasurable lifestyle revived.

Aside from the challenges during the holiday season, these camps have many prayer requests. When asked what they would like other believers to pray for, Mr. Magit said that they need better protection from the government, prosecution of those involved in the attacks, help getting essential items such as food, medicine, and clothing, schooling for the children, and assistance getting back to farming. Please join us in praying for these persecuted believers this Christmas season.

For interviews, please contact Olivia Miller, Communications Coordinator: