April presidential elections in Nigeria may have been the fairest in years but they were also the bloodiest. Goodluck Jonathan, a Christian, received more than half of the votes beating his primary challenger Gen. Muhammadu Buhari, a Muslim. Since the elections, elevated tensions have resulted in violence between Christians and Muslims living in northern Nigeria. In a recent attack on May 4 in Kurum village, 16 people were killed and 20 homes destroyed. During the rampage Pastor James Musa Rike, from the Church of Christ in Nigeria (COCIN), lost his wife and three children.
Pastor Rike told Compass News that as his wife lay dying she looked into his eyes and asked, “Is this the end between us, so we shall not be together again?” he told her, “Hold on to your faith in Jesus, and we shall meet and never part again.” As he held her hand he heard the cries of his 13-year-old daughter, Sum James Rike, a few yards away.
“I rushed to my daughter, only to discover that she too was cut with a machete on her stomach,” he said. “I held her hand and began to pray, knowing she was about to die. She told me that the Muslim militants told her they would kill her and “see how your Jesus will save you.” The girl told her father that she responded by telling them that Jesus had already saved her, and that by killing her they would only be making it possible for her to be with Him.
Pastor Rike prayed for his wife and daughter as well as the couple’s two other children; Faith James Rike and 1-year-old Fyali James Rike, who had also been murdered in the attack. Pastor Rike said the incident has strengthened his faith in Jesus. "Whatever the situation, I will never forsake Christ," he said. "All human beings are created by God, and our attackers must know that they need to abandon anything that will lead them to destroy creations of God."
In a separate incident, Christians from a local Evangelical Church Winning All congregation in Dengi town have been displaced after Muslims set their church building and homes on fire. The Rev. Ishaku Danyok of the church told Compass News that the April 29 incident occurred after Muslims approached a Christian music shop owner and told him that his music was disturbing them as they said their prayers. The young Christian man quietly switched off the music. Twenty minutes later they returned and burnt down the music shop and set fire to the pastor’s house and the property of five other Christians. Rev. Danyok added that as a result of the destruction, most members of his church have fled the town, reducing attendance at services to 50. “We currently worship in the destroyed church building with no roof to shield us from the sun and the rains,” he said.
These recent attacks in Kurum village and Dengi town follow the death of hundreds of people in the post-election violence in northern Nigeria. In addition, over 60 churches have been torched and thousands of houses belonging to Christians have been destroyed. Several pastors and church workers have also been killed. Nigeria’s population of more than 158.2 million is almost evenly divided between Christians, who make up 51.3 percent of the population and live mainly in the south, and Muslims, who account for 45 percent of the population and live mainly in the north.
Father we pray for our brothers and sisters by name; Dune James Rike, pastor Rike’s wife and Sum James Rike, Faith James Rike and 1-year-old Fyali James Rike, Pastor Rike’s children. Father also among those killed were Murna Ayuba; Angelina Ezekiel; Dorcas Sunday; Asabar Toma; Rhoda Joseph; Dhunhgwa Zakka; Bukata Amos; Ishaku Amos; Kalla Amos; Amos Daniel; Samidah Joel; and Changtan Joel. Father, welcome them into your loving arms. “I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for He hath clothed me with the garments of salvation…” (Isaiah 61:10) Amen