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Nigerian Pastor Free on Bail

May 30, 2013 by Open Doors in General

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Last month a pastor from Bauchi State, Nigeria,was arrested and charged with kidnapping after three sisters, aged fifteen, twelve and ten, sought refuge at his house to escape forced Islamization. The pastor is now free on bail but still faces a possible prison sentence.

The trouble started when the father of the girls converted to Islam. Although his wife followed him into Islam, his daughters refused to do the same. Their father then gave them a week to change their minds. Before the week was over, all three sisters fled their village and sought refuge at the pastor’s house, fearing forced marriage to Muslim men. The girls were moved to an undisclosed safe location. However, a Muslim youth had spotted the girls at the pastor’s house and reported it to the family. Under the directive of the District Head, the Police in Bauchi arrested the pastor, charged him with kidnapping and sent him to prison. Police searched his house but found no evidence to prove his guilt.

Open Doors was concerned over the safety of the pastor while has was in prison as most senior prison officers are Muslims. On his first day in custody, the pastor was taken to the controller’s office several times for interrogation. The following day he was taken to the controllers’ office again, but this time he was beaten. Still, he did not disclose the girls’ whereabouts.

“They flogged me with sticks. They treated me like a criminal, and threatened to kill me,” the pastor says. After three hearings, the pastor was granted bail on condition that he reports to the police station daily until the final hearing.

The girls remain at the safe location. The sudden loss of their home has naturally disheartened them, but Open Doors has been informed that they feel safe and comfortable.

The pastor is very thankful toward Open Doors (OD) for the support and earnest interest extended him in the case. OD field staff attended his court proceedings and brokered legal advice. “You made me see more of Christ and His love when you gave your time. Your presence and encouragement strengthened me in great measures.”

This is not the first such report of forced Islamization and forced marriage that has reached OD – it has become a common method whereby Muslims work to forcefully eradicate Christianity from the north.

Open Doors World Watch Unit confirms that in 2012, Christian girls faced serious threats of abduction and forced marriage. In Kano, for instance, a house was located where over 40 Christian girls were abducted, forced to convert, and many married to Muslim men

Father God, we lift this pastor into Your protective care while he awaits the final hearing. Thank You for his courageous protection of the girls who fled their father’s home. We pray for those handling his legal case, that Your justice would be accomplished. Grant them godly wisdom and insight. We pray Your protection over the pastor’s family as well, and over his congregation. We pray that You will keep these sisters safe, body and soul, in the midst of the crisis and as they look toward an uncertain future. Comfort and strengthen them in the loss of home and family. In the name of Jesus, who is present with them, Amen.

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