Nigerian Pastor, 13+ Christians captured in spree of terrorist kidnappings

November 13, 2020 by Lindy Lowry in Africa

They were on their way from Jos to participate in a church conference in northern Nigeria’s Gombe state.

 

That’s when terrorists from the jihadist group Islamic State West African Province (ISWAP) captured Pastor Zongo and two Christian women. For the last four weeks, the three believers have been held captive by the Islamic group Kalifah Army.

A proof-of-life video of Pastor Zongo in captivity released by another Islamic terrorist group, the Khalifah Army, has been widely circulated online. It’s unclear whether the Khalifah Army has ties to either ISWAP or Boko Haram. In the Hausa language, the pastor asks the Nigerian government, his church denomination (Church of Christ in Nations) and the Christian Association of Nigeria to work toward their release.

“I’m appealing that you all do all that is possible to secure our release from captivity,” he says on the video.

See why Nigeria is No. 12 on Open Doors’ World Watch List.

Nigerian Christian leader Gideon Para Mallam told the Christian Post that the video included extensive detail, and that the militants had not yet asked for ransom—possibly indicating future plans to kidnap more Christians as they visit family in northern Nigeria in the days leading up to Christmas.

“The church needs to be wise and not walk into a booby trap set by them,” Mallam cautioned. “We can celebrate Christmas anywhere. Let’s avoid becoming easy prey.” In recent weeks, a false rumor of Pastor Zongo’s release circulated, reportedly originating from an unidentified source on WhatsApp.

Mallam issued a call for fervent prayer, saying they had been sold fake news: “Unfortunately, we fell for it. We believed that maybe there was some truth in this. But there was not. You can imagine the harrowing pain his wife and children and friends are going through right now.

“I appeal to everybody, Christians in Nigeria and the international community, that we will double our prayer for the release of Zongo. Pray that God will do a miracle.

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13 Christians kidnapped in spate of attacks

In the last four weeks, Islamic terrorist groups in northern Nigeria—including ISWAP, Boko Haram and the Khalifah Army—have targeted and captured at least 13 Christians, including Pastor Zongo.

Local sources told Open Doors that on the same day of Pastor Zongo’s disappearance, Boko Haram kidnapped four Christian women on their way to Maiduguri, the capital of Borno state. Fighters belonging to the militant group stopped the vehicle the four were traveling in and selected the women based on their faith, the source said. Among the women is Fayina Alia from Kaduna; the identities of the three others have not yet been revealed.

Most recently, on November 1, Boko Haram killed at least 12 people and abducted three women and their four children during an attack on a village in northeastern Borno state. The abductors drove pickup trucks into Takulashi village and started shooting, looting food supplies and torching homes, a community leader told AFP. Tukalashi is 11 miles from Chibok where Boko Haram abducted 276 schoolgirls in 2014.

Called West Africa’s “most active and lethal actor,” the Boko Haram insurgency has claimed at least 27,000 lives in Nigeria and surrounding countries since its beginnings in 2009.

The insecurity of northern Nigeria continues to plague both Christians and Muslims. Nigeria is on the U.S. State Department’s “special watch list” of countries that engage in or tolerate severe violations of religious freedom.

Photo: Pastor Zongo credit MK Reporters Nigeria

Pray with us for Christians in captivity in northern Nigeria

Please pray for the immediate and safe release of Pastor Zongo, Favina Alia, the other abducted Christian women and for the thousands of people who remain in these terrorist groups’ captivity.

Pray Christians would be wise as snakes and as innocent as doves (Matthew 10:16) as they make decisions about travel around Christmas.

Pray the plans of the enemy in Nigeria would be thwarted.

Pray for peace and comfort for everyone in captivity, as well as their families. Lord, we ask You to surround our brothers and sisters with Your Spirit. Father, be ever close to them. Send them signs to assure them You are with them. Bring Scripture to their minds. May they sense the Body of Christ worldwide is lifting them to You. 

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