Inside the Genocide: Pray for Nigeria
By Carlie Chiesa
“Whenever God determines to do a great work, He first sets His people to pray.”
– Charles H. Spurgeon
Nigeria is experiencing a major election season this February 16. The results of this election will determine the country’s next president, as well as numerous seats in the National Assembly. The current president, Muhammadu Buhari, and Atiku Abubakar of the PDP party are the frontrunners for the presidential election. If the past is any indication, believers should be on their knees in prayer for Nigeria, as past elections have produced massive riots and violence.
Even though there is not a Christian candidate running for president, this election will have some effect on the lives of Nigeria’s 190 million Christians.
“And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.”
– Ephesians 6:18 (NIV)
The scriptures command Christians to pray often for those who are under persecution. Our brothers and sisters in Christ need our prayers at this time for safety, perseverance, and patience in these upcoming months. Below are some specific ways you can be praying for the Church in Nigeria.
Boko Haram and Fulani Militants
Christians in northern Nigeria and the Middle Belt have been dominated by the twin evils of Boko Haram and the Fulani militants. These groups are armed, Islamic terrorists. Tens of thousands of Christians have been killed, and millions more driven off their lands, by these groups.
President Buhari has been a disaster for Christians in Nigeria. The Nigerian government has mischaracterized the near-genocide of Christians in Nigeria for years as a conflict between farmers (Christians) and herders (Fulani) perpetuated by tribal issues. This strategy distracts the world from the reality of the situation: it is a devastating, one-sided war. Slowly, the US government (especially the State Department) is starting to awake to a keener understanding of the conflict.
- Pray for the Christians in the north to be faithful to God, even in the face of persecution. Pray especially for their safety.
- Pray that the terrorists will find salvation in Christ. ICC has contact with many Muslim Background Believers, so this is a real possibility.
- Pray for the breakdown of Boko Haram and the Fulani militants.
- Pray that the U.S. government will recognize the scale of this humanitarian crisis and pressure the Nigerian government to meaningful action.
Victims and Their Families
Militant groups leave behind a wake of confusion and grief after attacks. When fathers are killed, the situation is especially dire. Families do not have the option to grieve because they need to find new ways of supporting themselves. Not all victims are killed; in fact, many are left severely maimed. Debilitating injuries often leave them disabled and unable to earn a living.
- Pray for families to be able to grieve well and to find ways to maintain their livelihoods.
- Pray for those who were attacked and left physically disabled.
- Pray for those who endured significant psychological trauma to find a new purpose.
Boko Haram and Fulani herdsmen are driving Christian farmers out of their homelands, resulting in a refugee crisis. Many are fleeing to the neighboring countries of Niger and Cameroon. Niger is one of the poorest countries in the world and cannot financially support refugees, and Cameroon is enduring a civil war.
- Pray for these refugees to find somewhere secure to settle. Pray that the government would recognize this crisis and step in on their behalf.
Safety for Young Girls
Five years ago, the world was shocked by the news of the kidnapping of almost three hundred schoolgirls by Boko Haram. Last year, ICC reported on the Daphi schoolgirls, who were also kidnapped. All of the girls were released, except for five who died in transit and one brave young girl who refused to renounce her faith in Jesus Christ. Boko Haram is against education and western principles and kidnaps these girls because they are becoming educated.
- Pray for these girls to remain faithful to God and to remain safe from these attacks. Also, pray for their persecutors to be merciful and to release the girls back to their families
The United States Institute of Peace (USIP) reports that there is a strong risk that the losing party may be aggressive and destructive after the election. Recently, ICC has reported that religious leaders in Nigeria have been urged to preach peace messages in order to encourage a peaceable election.
- Pray for the elections to be peaceful and for the losing party to be gracious in defeat.
- Pray that Christian leaders will rise up in the government.
- Pray that whoever wins the election will be merciful to the Christians, recognize that they are being persecuted, and take action on their behalf.
“My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one.”
– John 17:15 (NIV)
Jesus recognized that evil is pervasive in this world. Pray this prayer on behalf of your fellow believers in Nigeria. They are facing a dark time and need us to plead for them as Jesus did. Pray fervently for their protection from the darkness at work in this world – that they would hold fast, be faithful, and seek to obey God at all times.