Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Church of Christ in Nigeria reeling from massacre

Remains of a car used by suicide bombers
in a February church attack.
Photo: Compass Direct News
In the Plateau state of central Nigeria, tensions had run high all week between ethnic Fulani, who are mainly Muslim, and ethnic Birom, mainly Christian. It was only the latest outbreak of anger in a decade-long cycle of aggression and reprisals, reports Compass Direct News

But this time, anxiety ran high enough that, by Saturday, July 7, about 50 members of the Church of Christ in Nigeria around the village of Maseh had fled their homes, taking refuge in the home their pastor.

The gunmen came Saturday, entering the home and opening fire. Then they burned the house.

“Fifty of our church members were killed in the church building where they had fled to take refuge. They were killed alongside the wife of the pastor and children,” said Rev. Dachollom Datiri, vice president of the Church of Christ in Nigeria.

The history of conflict between Nigerian Christians and Muslims has roots in land disputes, political opportunism, quarrels over national power sharing, and other causes, but the Church of Christ leaders said the current situation is evidence of an institutionalized persecution of Christians.

“We’ve heard that the (Nigerian military) is here to provide protection to the weaker side in the conflict between Christians and Muslims,” Dashan said. “They have openly said they are here to protect Muslims. However, it is this same Muslims who are being protected that are attacking Christians and destroying our villages and church buildings. There is no single mosque that has been destroyed by Christians and we have never been on the offensive; so, why (are they) aiding Muslims to attack us?”

At the same time, Faluni representatives have told news agencies that Christians have attacked Muslim communities. Christian church leaders across Nigeria have urged believers to refrain from retaliation, though not all have paid heed.

“The whole thing is coming to a head,” Datiri said. “It’s been a long-term thing planned by the Boko Haram. This is a jihadist movement with the agenda to Islamize the country. It is a jihad, a religious war against Christians for refusing to embrace Islam. So, they are using terrorism as a weapon. That is the reason you see that the target of their attacks are Christians and our churches.”

Please pray for Christians in Nigeria.
  • Pray that Christians will not retaliate, but will show love and peace to their persecutors. 
  • Pray for wisdom for Nigeria’s leaders during this time of unrest.
  • Please pray the Lord will heal and restore those who have suffered as a result of these attacks.
To read the full report, click here. For more information on persecution in Nigeria, visit our Nigeria Country Report.

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