Nigerian Widow: “They Changed My Life, And They Changed My Story”

December 7, 2017 by Brian O. in Stories of Persecution

In Nigeria, violence toward Christians is all too common. Muslim extremist groups like Boko Haram have ravaged the northern region—killing, raping, kidnapping and burning Christian villages to the ground. In the wake of this wicked violence, widows and orphans wrestle to survive—both from the physical and emotional trauma. When we read stories like Debora’s below, it’s a powerful reminder to stand with our persecuted brothers and sisters in this region where faith costs the most.

The Attack

It was early morning when the Muslim extremists started burning down houses, shooting and killing the people in Debora’s village in northeastern Nigeria.

But when Debora and her husband heard the gunshots, it was too late. “We should get out of the house, or they will come and burn us here,” Debora’s husband said.

Debora quickly wrapped her baby around her back and they made their way to the front of the house.

As soon as they opened the gate, militants shot Debora in the arm. Her husband, who was in front of her, was shot in the chest.

Debora fell to the ground and held his hand…

That day, Debora and her baby boy survived. But her husband didn’t.

The Widows of Nigeria

Debora’s story represents so many women in Africa who, today, are widows because of religious violence. And in addition to the pain and loss of losing a husband, the plight of survival for widows in Nigeria is often arduous and complicated.

“They changed my life, and they changed my story”

In Nigeria, it’s customary for the family of the murdered husband to take care of his wife and children, but far too often families do the opposite. Instead of providing comfort and compassion, families exploit the widows and eventually chase them away. This is what happened to Debora.

“After my husband died and peace returned to our town, my in-laws began to frustrate my life,” Debora shares. Her in-laws wanted her to move out of her house so they could profit from it. They consistently abused her and told her to leave. Soon, she gave in and left her home and rented a house.

She was hopeless. Alone. Filled with grief. And ready to take her own life.

Tears of Joy

But through a contact, Debora was invited to participate in an Open Doors’ trauma counseling program. When she joined a group of widows with similar stories, God started to sow the seeds of healing in Debora’s heart.

Construction of the trauma care center

“I am so thankful for the people who were counseling us,” Debora said. “The way they talked with us and the way they showed concern—my husband’s family never showed any concern. But people who I don’t even know…because of God, they take care of me.

“When I sit down, I think, ‘God, You are alive!’ Now, these tears I’m shedding, are tears of joy. This joy, I cannot explain it,” Debora says.

Through the Open Doors trauma center, Debora found community, compassion and hope for the future.

“Before, I didn’t have anything. I just gave up my mind to die. But now my life is changed. They helped me with food and my boy’s school fees. They changed my life, and they changed my story. So, I don’t know how else to say it. I just say, ‘Thank you.’”

Due to the ongoing violence against Christians in Nigeria, Debora’s story is all too common. But through counseling, care and spiritual guidance, their stories don’t have to end with loss and grief. When you give to Open Doors, you’re standing with women like Debora and changing their stories.

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