“Recharging” a Persecuted Family

How a cellphone business helped to "recharge" a family after being attacked by Fulani militants.

Marice and her family stand together after suffering a Fulani attack.
Marice and her family stand together after suffering a Fulani attack.

12/16/2019 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern)Armed attackers surrounded the house and shouted for Marice and her children to come out.

She emerged from her home to find a scene of total chaos. Villagers were running in every direction. Marice and her son, Confidence, attempted to join them and flee the village, but Fulani militants, armed with machetes, guns, and spears, pursued them.

As she ran, Marice heard her son cry out, “Jesus! Jesus! Jesus!” When she turned, she saw her son had been thrown to the ground. He was surrounded by militants and hacked to death with machetes. Frozen with shock and horror, she watched her son die.

Then, they turned on her.

Marice recalled, “While I was looking and praying, two of them came over to me and told me to give them my mobile phone. I told them I had none. While I was speaking, a third one came, pulled out his machete and tried to smash my head. I lifted my hand and he struck, slicing off my two fingers. He lifted to strike me again, [but] I again raised up the same hand, and he cut off another part of the hand. Then I collapsed, but kept praying.”

Hours before the attack, Marice’s husband, Giduel, left the village to travel to another village to charge his phone. He didn’t realize that this simple trip would change his life forever.

On his way home, he heard church bells sounding throughout the village. He broke into a run and arrived at their home, only to find the house empty. That’s when he realized that the Fulani militants had not left, and his family was nowhere to be found.

Giduel shared, “Suddenly I heard sporadic gun shots all over and smoke of burning rising. I fled as bullets were flying over me from different directions.  It was God who helped me to escape miraculously without being hit by any of those bullets!  … It was God that spared my life! It was so dreadful, that I kept wondering which direction to run.  Sometimes I just laid flat on the ground among shrubs.”

Giduel laid in hiding for hours as the attack continued. When it finally quieted down around 3:00 p.m., those who survived left their hiding places and stumbled back to the village to see which of their loved ones were still alive.

It was then that Giduel heard that the bodies of his wife and son were seen laying on a pathway in the bush.

He recalled, “I rushed to search for them. When I got there, my son was already dead. He had three spears shot into his body and had been hacked so badly. But my wife was still conscious, though also badly injured.  She recognized me and spoke up and said, ‘I thought you had been killed. Please get me some water to drink.’ She had bled so much from the brutal attack that I did not think she would survive. I rushed and got some water for her and she drank.”

Giduel took Marice to the largest hospital in the region, where she could receive specialized medical care. After months of recovery, she finally made it back home.

Over the last 20 years, Islamic Fulani militants have terrorized Christians in Nigeria’s Middle Belt region. Together with Boko Haram, they have driven millions of Christian farmers off of their own land – people just like Marice and Giudel.

Giduel and Marice lost their oldest son, and Marice has permanent injuries on her hand, but they still have each other, their five other children, and their faith in Jesus.

As we listened to their account, we were struck that what saved Giduel was that he was in a completely different village to charge his phone! In many parts of Africa, this is normal, but it gave rise to an idea of how to help Marice and Giduel.

Since other villages have small businesses that recharge phones, could one be successful in their village?

A small investment to set up a phone charging business could give Marice meaningful work and a way to continue supporting her family, despite her injuries. As their neighbors brought their phones to be charged, she could share Jesus with many of them!

The project would also prevent families from becoming vulnerable to attacks and foster safer communities due to easier access to quick communication. After our investment and with the help of our staff on the ground, Marice opened her new phone recharging business just last month.

 

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