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04/26/2023 Nigeria (International Christian Concern) – After being attacked by militants on the Easter weekends of 2021 and 2022, a Christian farming community in North Central Nigeria’s Plateau State gathered to worship again on Good Friday of this year. The worshipers numbered about 300 persons, including adults, children, and senior citizens. Most were seated on the floor, others on stones. The few who could afford it sat on plastic chairs they bought for themselves.

Fortunately, the militants did not visit the village this year. Still, the memory of the recent trauma was felt at the service. “Fulani militants burnt our church and houses, including the pastor’s house,”  a church leader told an ICC staffer after the Good Friday service.

An ICC staffer visited the community in 2021 and 2022 after the Easter weekend attacks. In one, an ethnic Fulani pastor was among those killed. His church was destroyed and his cattle were rustled. In 2021, the militants burnt over 500 houses in a hamlet of over 2,000 Christians who were displaced to Jos City, 35km from the village, or to the main town of Miango. When the militants attacked the village again in 2022, they destroyed more houses and crops. “We lost everything in the community and the government refused to help because we are Christians,”  the church leader told ICC.

ICC’s local staffer was among the 300 worshippers gathered this year. The service was held in a church without a roof. “Sometimes we worship in the rain,” said the church’s pastor. ”I suffered from pneumonia due to the cold.” The pastor also contracted hepatitis and could not pay the hospital bills of N700,000 though friends and family helped him, he told ICC.

“I am still undergoing medical treatments,” he said, ”but I am passionate to preach the gospel of Christ.” The pastor encouraged his congregants to forgive for the sake of Christ who died for their sins, reading from Mark 15.

A woman leader of the church told ICC that the church population dropped after the attack and their financial contributions along with it. She expressed the need for help to repair the roof, rebuild the pastor’s house, and empower women in the village. Many women, she explained find it difficult to help the church because their means of livelihood have been destroyed. “We face constant threats to our lives even while Fulani cattle graze in our farms and destroye our crops,” she said, referencing a common point of tension between the local farming community and cattle herders in the area.

Militants have attacked over 45 farming Christian communities in the Rigwe chiefdom in Plateau in recent years. Their attacks have destroyed many buildings, including 13 churches from Miango county. ICC has written on many of these attacks in the past. They often attack villages at night or ambush Christians in the day while the farmers are traveling to their farms or church.

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