Boko Haram Reign of Terror Impacts Churches in Nigeria
SANTA ANA, Calif. (June 25, 2012) – The terror campaign on Christian churches in northern Nigeria by the Islamic militant group Boko Haram continues to impact Sunday worship services.
The group has succeeded in injecting fear into the minds of believers as many could not attend churches Sunday, following the new threat by the group to launch coordinated bloody attacks on churches.
The extremist group earlier released an email confirming their plans for the coming weeks. In Jos, particularly, Boko Haram threatened to bomb places of worship, aiming to prevent worship services from taking place over the weekend. Many people in Jos, Kaduna, Kano and other major cities in the north did not go to church Sunday. Even Muslims stayed off the streets, according to one report.
“The increasingly intentional activity of Boko Haram has taken on the characteristics of a real war,” said Open Doors USA President Dr. Carl Moeller. “These are not random attacks as they’re often characterized in the media. They are intentional, and they’re designed with one purpose in mind: the elimination of Christianity. I call it ‘religicide’ or the intentional and systemic effort to eliminate a religious belief and its followers from a country or region.”
In another incident over the weekend, Boko Haram concealed a bomb in a coffin claiming that it was a corpse. Explosives were discovered when a soldier at a checkpoint insisted to see what was inside the coffin. The men were arrested on the spot. After this incident the police restricted the movement of vehicles.
A man was arrested when he masqueraded as someone who was interested to learn about Jesus Christ and to submit his life to Him. The man approached the pastor in the church. While talking, the pastor noticed a bag a few yards away. When he asked the possible convert about the bag, he denied knowing anything about the bag. But after the police discovered that the bag was filled with explosives, the would-be suicide bomber was arrested.
“The believers can now only rely on prayer as Christians in the northern states are living in fear and uncertainty,” said an Open Doors co-worker.
In Kaduna and Zaria where churches were bombed last week a curfew is still in effect.
On Sunday Boko Haram attacked a prison and freed 40 inmates who are members of Boko Haram. The Associated Press estimated 620 Nigerians, mostly Christians, have been killed by Boko Haram in 2012.
President Goodluck Jonathan, in his effort to restructure and ensure security, fired his special adviser and the minister of defense. He appointed a new national security adviser who is a Muslim. The appointment is seen by some church leaders as a mistake.
At the moment, fear reigns all over the region. However, believers in northern Nigeria trust the Lord for His divine intervention as the government has not offered any effective solutions to the terror campaign. Concerned believers are on their knees seeking God’s face because the battle is spiritual and it is only God that can bring an end to this situation.
An Open Doors co-worker is asking for prayers: “We really appreciate your concern and prayers; continue to pray for us and don’t get tired. Our office might be among the places which the sect members may aim to attack at anytime and any day. Pray that the Lord will deliver us.”
Nigeria is ranked No. 13 on the 2012 Open Doors World Watch List of 50 countries which are the worst persecutors of Christians. According to World Watch List, Nigeria had at least 300 martyrs in 2011, although the actual number could be closer to 1,000.
An estimated 100 million Christians worldwide suffer interrogation, arrest and even death for their faith in Christ, with millions more facing discrimination and alienation. Open Doors supports and strengthens believers in the world’s most difficult areas through Bible and Christian literature distribution, leadership training and assistance, Christian community development, prayer and presence ministry and advocacy on behalf of suffering believers. To partner with Open Doors USA, call toll free at 888-5-BIBLE-5 (888-524-2535) or go to our Website at www.OpenDoorsUSA.org.
(For more information or to set up an interview, contact Jerry Dykstra at 616-915-4117 or email [email protected])