Why Are Christians Today in Nigeria Suffering Such Persecution?
Welcome to Christian Charity World as we look at Christians Today in Nigeria.
"2 Timothy 3:12
Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted,"
Sometimes life may seem difficult with our financial difficulties, family issues and perhaps many people not understanding our Christian values and ways of thinking. Yet in the western world, in the United Kingdom, United States and Western Europe we have it relatively easy compared to many Christians in other parts of the world.
In 2003 I spent some time working in Nigeria, particularly in the city of Ibadan. Despite some rather hairy moments I've developed a fondness for the country and indeed many of my Facebook friends are Nigerian. So it deeply saddens me to see the current unrest that has hit the nation particularly in Central and North East Nigeria.
President Goodluck Jonathan has declared a state of emergency in parts of the north eastern states of Yobe and Borno and the central states of Plateau and Niger. This follows Christmas Day attacks on churches in Yobe, Plateau, Niger and Nigeria's capital Abuja. Indeed the bombing of St. Theresa's Catholic Church in Abuja left 37 people killed.
A radical Muslim group called Boko Haram has claimed responsibility for all these attacks. Boko Haram seemed to have been virtually extinct in 2009 and were even using primitive weapons such as poisoned darts for their attacks. Yet over the course of 2 years they have risen strongly and now reportedly have affiliations with other Islamic Fundamentalist Groups such as al-Quaida in the Islamic Maghreb and the Taliban. As I write, a deadline set by Boko Haram for all Christians today in Nigeria to move out of the North of Nigeria has past. They have also urged Muslims in the south to head Northwards as they believe their safety is under threat from the predominantly Christian population of the southern states. It doesn't bode well for immediate peace as it appears that they are set on creating two seperate states with the North being governed by Shari'a Law as currently happens in 12 states. We can perhaps gain more insight into their motives when we translate the name Boko Haram; "Western Education is sinful".
In 2011 it is estimated that Boko Haram had killed upto 600 people in their attacks on churches. Jos, the capital of Plateau State has seen many deadly clashes as it lies on the divide between Christians and Muslims. President Goodluck Jonathan has ordered the temporary closure of Nigeria's borders with Niger, Chad and Cameroon to prevent terrorists fleeing to the safety of their neighbours. The mood of Christians across Nigeria is understandably one of concern and anxiety. The National Youth Wing of the Christian Associate of Nigeria has been quoted as saying that they will not tolerate any further attacks on churches.
I hope and pray that Christians do not try to retaliate though there are many who can understand the desire to exact justice. I'm sure it is easy to say, coming from one who is an outsider, but justice is not ours to meter out but God's. God is the ultimate judge and in his wisdom he will punish. For Christians today in Nigeria they must try and find it in their hearts to love all, including those that persecute and attack them. Love is their greatest weapon.
I have to point out that I am no great scholar of Islam but it is my understanding that it is a peaceful religion at heart, which makes it difficult to comprehend why Islamic Fundamentalists want to perpetrate such acts of violence including suicide bombings like that at the offices of the United Nations in Abuja. Why anybody would want to resort to violence of any kind to enforce their will is beyond me.
President Goodluck Jonathan has an unenviable task ahead of him in trying to find a formula for peace. Indeed as a committed Christian himself he must feel that his life is in danger as well. It is my wish for the nation and friends that have found a place in my heart for that they can live peacefully together with the love of God at their core. For the sake of all Christians today in Nigeria and their Muslim neighbours.