A Different Kind Of Black Friday
Today, many people around the country are exhausted after waiting in line for hours, to get the best bargain possible. Over the years we have deemed this day ‘Black Friday’ and associate it with scoring deals as the Christmas season begins. However, to Christians in Nigeria, this term has a much different meaning…
John and Emmanuel are 24 and 26 years old respectively. Both are avid field hockey players and John is one of the most talented soccer players I have ever seen. And they both almost lost the ability to play the sports they love.
John told me of the day he has personally deemed as “Black Friday,” when an extremist group that is located primarily in Northern Nigeria infiltrated he and Emmanuel’s town. Boko Haram is an Islamic Extremist group in Nigeria who has been behind countless attacks of churches, Christian and government property.
On this day, a man was eating a meal at a local restaurant. While eating the soup the waitress had just brought out to him, he began to cry. The waitress asked him what was wrong, why he was not happy with his food. “I am about to do the work of Allah- please leave while you still can.” As soon as he said this, he got into his car and drove into an oil drum in front of the police station, creating an explosion that destroyed part of the police station- opening up an area that was once secure. After this, other members of Boko Haram broke into the police station and disguised themselves as police officers. They then entered into the Christian section of town.
John was riding his bike home and was stopped by one the members of Boko Haram. He said that he did not recognize the ‘police officer,’ but stopped nonetheless.
The man asked him his name. “John” he said. The man then said “To Allah I bring glory” and shot John in the arm (because he had a Christian name). John fled from the man as fast as he could, to seek shelter and find help. He eventually got through to his father on his cell phone, who rushed him to the hospital where he stayed for almost two months. He could not move his hand for over a month and was afraid that he might never be able to play the sports he loved. But after a month’s time, he regained full usage of his arm and hand again.
On the same day, Emmanuel was playing soccer with some friends, when a member of Boko Haram opened fire on him and his friends (since they were in the Christian part of town). He and his five friends began to run for their lives. The man kept shooting all of them until they all fell down. Within a moment, Emmanuel realized that all his friends were dead and that he was the only one who was still alive. He decided to play dead as the gun man approached, but then saw that he was approaching every single body to shoot one more time (to confirm that they were dead). Even though he had been wounded himself , Emmanuel got up and ran for his life. He jumped into a sheltered area behind a wall and later found a bathroom to hide in. His battery on his cell phone was too low to call anyone, so he sat in the bathroom, continuing to bleed out until someone found him the following morning. It took him over two months to recover in the hospital, but he is still struggling to recover emotionally from these traumatic events.
After hearing this story, the term ‘Black Friday’ will never have the same meaning to me again. It seems so unfaor that our persecuted brothers and sisters have to endure so much, while we are blessed with so much. Would you take a few moments this ‘Black Friday’ to pray for these Christians in Nigeria? That God would protect them and encourage them in the face of persecution?