Nigeria’s Scattered Flock: John Bulus

“Israel is a hunted sheep driven away by lions. First the king of Assyria devoured him, and now at last Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon has gnawed his bones” – Jeremiah 50:17

The continuous and relentless attacks led by Boko Haram and Fulani militants have pushed Christians in Nigeria’s Middle Belt region to the brink. Responsible for hundreds of attacks and deaths every year, these groups rob entire towns of their voice and livelihood. Unwilling to be silenced, survivors share their testimonies.

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11/15/2019 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – Ancha village of Plateau State, Nigeria was teeming with all kinds of life. The land is fertile for the agrarian community, supplied with water from local streams and lakes. Potatoes, cabbages, carrots, cucumbers, and other vegetables dotted the landscape and farmlands. Christian farmers reaped bountiful harvests, baskets brimming with produce. Clean air and disease-free land brought villagers together in unity.

Surrounded by rich, evergreen grass, Ancha is also attractive to wandering herdsmen. For many years, Ancha was a true picture of shalom; farmers, herdsmen, and livestock lived together in unity on the fruits of the earth. Two years ago, that picturesque scenery was broken.

John Bulus, one of the residents of Ancha village, recounted to International Christian Concern (ICC) the strife that the community has faced since 2017. John has personally survived three of the seven attacks that have taken place.

Eyes welling with emotion, John began with the first incident that occurred on September 8, 2017. He said, “On the eighth of September, 2017, at midnight, my parents and 18 kinsmen were murdered. We had a mass burial for them.” The community mourned together, forced to create a mass grave for their fallen family members. That grave, just outside the small community is only marked by a bare patch of dry earth, hiding the signs of the worst attack the community has suffered.

Gone were the roaming herdsmen who had once lived in unity with the Christian farmers. Radical Fulani militants now stood in their place, ready to pillage the town for all its value.

John continued, “My three farms of potatoes, maize, and vegetables, worth over three hundred thousand Naira (nearly 1,000 USD), were destroyed by militants on the eighth of June, 2018.” John was not the only one affected by this attack either. Many others in the village lost that season’s harvest. The once bountiful landscape was laid barren before a mourning village. Without this crop, and with no money to replant, John and his kin struggled to provide food for their families and neighbors.

Then, in September 2018, John lost his eldest brother in another violent attack against the Christians of Ancha village. As a result of these attacks, John now cares for 12 orphans who are completely dependent on him. “To make matters worse,” he lamented, “the herdsmen made away with my only water pumping machine, which I use for dry season farming. When the rains are over, it will be difficult for me to meet the needs of my dependents.”

Though John still lives in Ancha village, the loss of kinsmen, whether to physical attack or forced relocations, made it hard to survive. ICC was able to provide a communal farm for many of the families affected by these attacks in Ancha. John is now one of the beneficiaries of this farm. He expressed his gratitude for the communal farm that allows him to meet the needs of his newly expanded family, fulfilling the call in the Gospel to care for the widows and orphans.

With the implementation of the communal farm, Ancha village is slowly rebuilding itself to its former sustainability and bounty. By faith, John and the community continue to work toward the shalom that they once knew. Ancha is currently preparing for the coming dry season; however, they continue to fear potential attacks. In August 2019, four young men from Ancha village were murdered while returning home from the fields one night. John noted that this attack shows that the militants are still bent on expelling them from their ancestral home.

Without the aid and protection of the government, they may not be able to make a full recovery. Please pray for those in the Nigerian government to start protecting all of their citizens. Ancha village should stand as a testament to what can happen when a government is indifferent to the struggles of its own people.

For interviews, please contact Olivia Miller, Communications Coordinator: press@persecution.org 

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