Christians in Nigeria’s Yobe State Face Pressure to Convert to Islam

January 30, 2017 by Open Doors in Africa

The long drawn-out Boko Haram insurgency in Northern Nigeria has created an ongoing humanitarian disaster. In the northern state of Yobe, one of the three worst affected states, Christians who have finally returned to their destroyed and severely damaged communities are facing added pressure for their faith.

Reports reached Open Doors that while the government has spent millions on rebuilding other communities and restoring amenities, Kukar Gadu, Yobe’s only Christian community, has been abandoned. No restructuring has taken place there. We have also been informed that about 50 Christians who had been employed in government jobs were dismissed because they did not come to work during the insurgency. To our knowledge, no Muslims were dismissed for this reason.

These circumstances exacerbate the poverty and hunger Christians are already facing, making them increasingly vulnerable to pressure from Muslims to convert to Islam in exchange for financial support. So far, we are aware of ten people who have converted to Islam to receive the finances needed to start new businesses. One such convert told an OD contact in the area, “Before my conversion I could hardly see food to eat or money to solve the basic needs of my family, but now we have enough.”

This situation illustrates the various challenges the church faces in northern Nigeria, particularly in sharia-governed states like Yobe where Christians have long faced discrimination and isolation. Christians have often experienced the lack of government assistance and development in their communities over long periods of time. Additionally, by its own assessment, the church is not strong enough in discipleship of believers, particularly new Christians from Muslim backgrounds, resulting in weak believers who are easy prey to Islamization efforts.

Father, Christians in the northern regions of Nigeria have suffered in unbearable ways. We pray today for believers in Kukar Gadu, that You would sustain them and return them to jobs that they might provide food and other basic needs for their families. We pray that You will strengthen them to stand firm in their faith in the midst of their suffering and that You will make clear to them Your presence in these dark times. Strengthen Your church in Kukar Gadu, Father; equip them to disciple Muslim background believers that they might not succumb to pressure to convert to Islam. For those who, in the midst of hunger and hopelessness, have converted, we pray that You will draw them back to Yourself. And we bring before Your merciful presence our brothers and sisters all across Northeast Nigeria who are suffering under the humanitarian emergency the insurgency has created. In the name of Jesus, who bends His ear to hear the cry of His people and responds. Amen.