Imagine you are a Christian Leader in Nigeria. For many years you have worked tirelessly to encourage Christians, evangelize to non-believers and serve however else you felt led.
You carry the burden of exhaustion because you have had to do all of this with limited resources. The violence against Christians in recent years has only added to this heavy load. Though there are wonderful accounts of former persecutors coming to Christ, there have also been reports of people merely acting like they had become Christians, so they could infiltrate the church and attack Christians when their ‘guards were down.’ Usman is a Christian leader who faces this very dilemma. He is from Northern Nigeria and has experienced many trials in his lifetime.
Looking at him, you can tell that he is weary. The lines on his face and the tiredness in his eyes show that he is worn down by all the trials he has faced. His stoic voice adds to the resigned image that he portrays.
As he looks in the distance he says “My name is Usman, a Muslim name, because I was once a Muslim.”
Usman is a A Christian from a Muslim background who comes to Christ. (MBB). Though most Christians in Northern Nigeria are marginalized by their Muslim neighbors, MBBs often face more persecution from friends and family because they have abandoned Islam. Due to this, he is very aware of the different ways that Muslim extremists have tried to persecute Christian, one being false conversions. He is not always sure if he can trust a Muslim who says that they want to convert to Christianity.
Perhaps the most difficult part of the current dilemma that he is facing is the realization that if it weren’t for someone taking a chance and sharing the gospel with him, he may have never found Christ.
Usman reflects on the passage from Matthew 10:16 “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.” He knows that the only solution to his dilemma is to pray that God will grant him that wisdom and discernment.
According to Usman, there is currently a debate between some Northern Nigerian Christians regarding the issue of church security. Some believe that they should not have security guards at churches, because it is goes against Christ’s command to ‘turn the other cheek.’ Other Christians believe that they should never invoke violence or retaliate, but should be wise about protecting themselves from attacks. Usman is from that latter school of thought.
Usman knows that not all churches are willing to hire security guards, so he is trying to encourage churches to build fences around their building, to protect them against attacks during their services. Though some churches have been proactive in this regard, others are unable to do this, due to lack of resources and funding.
It is understandable why Usman is feeling so burned-out. He has gone through many trials and tribulations that most Christian leaders will never encounter. Please pray for Usman, that the Lord would aid him with this burdensome yoke in his life. Pray that God would revitalize Usman and give him the strength to continue his ministry. Finally, please pray for God to give Usman discernment when dealing with new converts and church security.