The radical Muslim Boko Haram group has threatened to attack Christians and government personnel in Nigeria on July 30, the second anniversary of death of the sect’s leader. In a united effort, many churches and prayer groups throughout Nigeria have embarked on a 21-day fast and time of prayer to cry to the God of heaven for His intervention.
Security authorities in the Northern Nigerian communities of Bauchi and Maiduguri, two key centers of Boko Haram, uncovered the plans for the July 30th attack. Earlier, when Boko Haram leaders refused to agree to a cease fire unless their demands to institute full Islamic law were met, the government brought in soldiers and increased the security significantly, resulting in the death of many members of the sect. As a result, the Bauchi branch of Boko Haram has pulled out of the July 30 attack, but the situation in Maiduguri remains serious. In light of recent bomb explosions in Maiduguri, threats on Christians, and the increased security by police, many Christians and Muslims alike have fled the city to greater safety in rural areas.
Just last week, Boko Haram sect members were sighted placing a bomb at a roundabout, then waiting on the side of the road. Soon a jeep carrying security men appeared, and just as they entered the roundabout the bomb was detonated, killing several security men and maiming others. An Open Doors contact who lives in the city said there is no sign of peace in the city. With only a few Christians left, he said office work, markets and business were completely paralyzed.
The impact of the exodus from Maiduguri is significant, with many churches now under lock and key, and many of the areas where Christians lived are now ghost towns. The normally busy Post Office district of Maiduguri is deserted. In another area of 1,000 houses, everybody left except one person, who was then compelled to leave for fear of what might happen to him if he alone stayed back.
According to one senior church leader, more than half of Maiduguri has left. But for himself, he said, “I am an indigenous citizen of Borno state. This is my home and I must stay here, live or die.” Convinced that God will help the church to overcome this situation, he said he believes that although the church is going through fire at the moment, this situation will not destroy the church in Maiduguri.
A former Boko Haram member who has now become a Christian testified that young people are lured into the sect with promises of lots of money. There are rituals conducted that are reminiscent of an occult group. “Once you join the group, it takes only the grace of God to come out of it,” he said. “It seems like you almost lose your will and ability to think, and you only do what you are told.”
There is a high level of alert in Maiduguri and Bauchi as well as in Jos, which has been targeted in the past. But as the second anniversary of the death of Boko Haram’s leader approaches, there are real fears that the group might unleash terror on other parts of the country where there is not much security presence. Nigerian Christians have united in this prayer effort. Consider joining in fasting and praying for God’s intervention in this crisis.
Father, we pray for protection of Your church in Nigeria. We call on you to grant wisdom and discernment to government security agents as they attempt to quell the violence. We pray for believers in Maiduguri who live in constant fear and uncertainty and that You would grant them peace and protect them. God of all power and authority, we call on You to break the evil spiritual power that holds members of the Boko Haram sect captive. Reveal Yourself to them and draw them into faith. Thank You for the unity that has come to the church in Nigeria at this time, and we pray that we, along with them, would remain united in prayer and purpose. Amen