A line of Nigerian Christians stretches back from the dusty, tan storage facility where the food is stored. Inside hundreds of white, 50-pound bags of beans and maize are stacked floor to ceiling. For many in line, this food is the only thing standing between them and death.
A famine is ravaging Northern Nigeria, and Christians have found themselves trapped in an impossible situation. Those who return to their remote villages risk death at the hands of an extremist group that is located primarily in Northern Nigeria. There are fewer displacement camps as the government shuts more of them down, but even those Christians who have a camp to stay in often don’t receive any food.
One younger Nigerian woman who, like all other people in this story must remain anonymous, shared her story with Open Doors after receiving aid from a relief center.
“One day we went to school and came back to discover our house had been burned with our father inside. Life has not been easy for us since because these are very difficult times. Some organizations come to provide food but most of it goes to our Muslim brothers and Christians don’t get it. But thank God for Open Doors.”
This story is extremely familiar to the Open Doors field workers who distribute food. They have watched as a community of hard-working, proud people have been pushed to desperation.
“Over the last several years we have witnessed the hunger increase in informal camps and in host communities as food became scarcer and scarcer and people remained unable to farm,” a local Open Doors director said. “Initially, Christians helped one another, but the situation became so dire in these camps that people could no longer care for each other. We witnessed Christians in some places having nothing but leaves to eat. We started seeing children die of malnutrition. You only have to attend one relief aid distribution to see how desperate people are. We see people at distribution points pushing and shoving to get relief aid. We have seen women faint. In some cases people told us with tears running down their faces they had no more food to feed their children.”
This dire situation for all displaced Nigerian people-groups, and especially Christians, is not going away soon. According to a March New York Times article only 9% of the United Nations requested funds for Nigeria have been raised. Furthermore U.S. government contributions are unlikely to rise as the current administration intends to decrease U.N. aid giving moving forward. This combined with Nigerian government corruption, bias against Christians, and people being unable to return to remote villages leaves few answers and creates a desperate need for relief agencies like Open Doors.
“Yesterday, a pastor phoned me from his home area to personally thank Open Doors for the relief aid we delivered there” an Open Doors relief director said. “He was crying as he told me, ‘We are so grateful for this food aid. Please tell the people who gave towards this aid that we will never forget what they have done for us. This aid you gave us will last people up to three months. The money you included in each parcel is amazing. We have never experienced such help. You have done what the Church in Lassa could not do because we have become so weak—you have demonstrated God’s concern for them. You have demonstrated the love of God. On Sunday, people came to church en masse to praise God. And they thank the people who provided this aid.’”
There is simply no replacement for the ministry that organizations like Open Doors are doing in Nigeria. Every dollar you give toward our Nigerian famine fund provides aid to Christians in Nigeria who will not eat without it. You can give right now by clicking here.
“I become emotional when I think about [those who are giving]” the Open Doors director said. “Supporters won’t believe what this help means to us all. We know people make sacrifices so that we can be helped, and this makes us so emotional. We will not forget your labor of love. We are praying for all of you and the beneficiaries are praying for you all. These are the things that keep the light of God shining in the North. We are the messengers to them of the love and support you are providing.”
Or as one Nigerian man put it “On behalf of the Christian community here I wish to express our gratitude to Open Doors for bringing these relief materials to us, for thinking about us, not only in their minds but in a practical way. You have brought relief to so many people.”