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Is it Possible to Trust a New Convert in Nigeria?

November 20, 2012 by Open Doors in General

Nigerian Man Praying

Imagine you are a Christian leader in Nigeria. For many years you have worked tirelessly to encourage Christians, evangelize non-believers and serve however else you felt led. Seeking to faithfully serve the Lord with limited resources, you have often teetered on the brink of exhaustion. The escalating violence of the past few years has added to the burden you carry, but now you find yourself facing a new challenge in your ministry-dealing with “fake” Christians sent to spy on the church.

Though there are wonderful accounts of former persecutors coming to Christ in Nigeria, there have also been alarming reports of people faking conversions in order to infiltrate the church and attack Christians when their “guards were down.” Seems Usman is a Christian leader in Northern Nigeria who faces this very dilemma.

Looking at him, you can immediately see the marks of lifetime of trials. The deep lines on his face and the tiredness in his eyes show that he is battle-worn and weary. His stoic voice reinforces the image of resignation he presents. Gazing into the distance he says, “My name is Usman, a Muslim name, because I was once a Muslim.”

Usman is a Muslim Background Believer (MBB). Though most Christians in Northern Nigeria face opposition from their Muslim neighbors, MBBs often face more intense persecution from friends and family for leaving Islam. As a Muslim Background Believer, Usman is very aware of the different ways that Muslim extremists have tried to persecute Christians, including pretending to be interested in Christianity.  He frequently questions the sincerity of Muslims who say that they want to convert. The most difficult part for him is the realization that unless someone had taken the chance and shared the gospel with him, he may have never found Christ.

Usman reflects on the passage from Matthew 10:16, “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.” He knows that the only solution to his dilemma is to pray that God will grant him that wisdom and discernment.

Usman shared the current debate between some Northern Nigerian Christians regarding the issue of church security. Some believe having security guards at churches goes against Christ’s command to “turn the other cheek.” Other Christians believe that, though they should never invoke violence or retaliate, they should protect themselves from attacks. Usman is from the latter school of thought. Since many churches are unwilling to hire security guards, he encourages churches to build fences around their buildings to protect them from attacks during their services. Though some churches have been proactive in this regard, others are unable to do this, due to lack of resources and funding.

Father, we lift up Usman into Your loving hands. He admits that he is burned-out. Although faithfully serving You he has experienced difficult trials that most Christian leaders would never encounter. Lord, You tell us that You would not give us more than what we can endure, so we ask today that You lighten his load and aid him with this burdensome yoke. Father, revitalize Usman and give him the strength to continue his ministry. Lastly, we pray for You to give Usman discernment when dealing with new converts and church security; filling him with Your wisdom. Amen.

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