‘We ran for our lives’: Finding hope after an attack in Nigeria

March 1, 2022 by Christopher Summers in Stories of Persecution

‘We ran for our lives’: Finding hope after an attack in Nigeria

On the night of the attack, Pastor Andrew remembers the church treasurer running into his home, frantically yelling, “Boko Haram is attacking Guyaku!” When Pastor Andrew* stepped into the night, there were already rows of houses on fire.

“Fire was consuming the entire village,” Pastor Andrew says. “We ran for our lives and went to hide [in caves] under the mountains.”

As he hid with other believers from Guyaku, Pastor Andrew whispered a prayer for his congregation—but it wasn’t what you might think. “During the time of the attack, my prayer for my members was that God would strengthen their faith,” he says. “And even if they were abducted, that they would not deny Christ but hold firmly to their faith.”

Like Pastor Andrew, many Christians hid in caves and waited out the long night, hoping and praying their loved ones had survived. When morning finally came, everyone cautiously left their hiding places and tried to locate family members.

When they entered Guyaku, the scene was devastating. The heavy smell of smoke rose through the air, and homes continued to smolder. Boko Haram had stolen their possessions, and what they couldn’t take, they burned.

“The persecution was so much that I never imagined we would come together again to worship in the church,” Pastor Andrew says. “We lost everything.”

However over time, as the remaining Christians began to repair their homes and resettle, more believers returned.

At one point, Pastor Andrew knew it was time to gather again as a church. The village was still largely in ruins, but they were able to cobble together a gathering place from among the wreckage. “I called the attention of some of the church members, and we brought all our burned zinc [roofs] together and some sticks to make a worship place,” he says.

And it was under that makeshift roof of burned zinc, walls thatched with sticks from the forest and log benches balanced on rocks, that God resurrected the church. Boko Haram had intended to destroy the Christian community of Guyaku—but God wasn’t finished with Pastor Andrew’s little congregation just yet.

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*Name changed to protect identity