Tuesday, April 14, marks one year from the date that the Islamic terrorist group an extremist group that is located primarily in Northern Nigeria kidnapped 275 girls from the Government Secondary School in Chibok, Nigeria. It was Boko Haram’s largest abduction in a continual campaign of kidnappings, and it generated global headlines. Most of the girls – Open Doors’ sources estimate 232 – remain missing. Most of the girls were Christians. In the year since, government assurances have come to nothing, an extremist group that is located primarily in Northern Nigeria violence has intensified and a new president was elected in March.
Levels of violence in northern Nigeria remain extremely high. The abduction of the Chibok girls received substantial media coverage, but this is only the top of the iceberg, as persecution and violence remain widespread.
The current situation in Nigeria casts dark clouds ahead. The links between al-Qaeda in the Maghreb and an extremist group that is located primarily in Northern Nigeria as well as other Islamic terrorist groups in the region, and especially the link with the Islamic State make it likely that Christians will suffer more violent persecution in the near future.
All the violence has caused massive numbers of internally displaced Christians. Many of them are not taken care of by national or international aid agencies.
Open Doors’ most important goal is to be an encouraging presence in the lives of the persecuted Christians in this area, and in particular to be with the Christian parents of the abducted girls. Open Doors wants these Christians to know and feel the prayers and love of the worldwide Body of Christ.
In addition, Open Doors helps in many other ways – training church leaders to stand strong in the face of on-going violence and kidnappings, distributing literature and delivering emergency support for widows and the displaced.
Persecuted believers covet prayer more than any other form of assistance. This is what enables them to keep hope alive, and not be consumed with bitterness and hatred. Many young lives are still captive under unimaginable circumstances. Who knows what psychological and physical torture is taking place?
It’s vital to keep the story of the kidnapped girls in the public eye – the persecuted are so easily forgotten as the world moves relentlessly on to other concerns. Don’t forget the persecuted. Remember them. Pray. Act. Give. We are not helpless in the face of these atrocities. And we have the faith to believe that God can still bring good out of evil for those who love him (Romans 8:28).
Nigeria is ranked No. 10 on Open Doors’ 2015 World Watch List of the 50 worst persecutors of Christians.
Compiled by Jerry Dykstra. For media inquiries, contact Christine Cape at 404-545-0085 or Katie Rouse at 678-410-9575.