OPEN DOORS HELPING DISPLACED CHRISTIANS IN NORTHERN CAMEROON
Behind the brief news headlines that appear on the Internet about the continued Boko Haram related insecurity in the far north of Cameroon, a tragedy is unfolding which is affecting many Christians. Take Zaina from Nigeria – she was widowed by jihadist movement Boko Haram and lost two children after her flight to Cameroon. She was one among many Christians that Open Doors representatives met and helped.
Zaina Rachel watched in horror as Boko Haram killed her husband, Lada Simon, and then mutilated his body. Zaina fled from northeastern Nigeria to Cameroon in the hope of surviving this hellish nightmare. But since coming to Cameroon, Zaina has suffered the excruciating loss of two of her children as they succumbed to the harsh conditions.
The night before Open Doors representatives met Zaina, she ate the last of her food, and she wondered what she was going to do the next day. The food Open Doors delivered came at exactly the right time and was a God-send for her and many other Christians in the far northern province of Cameroon.
“Before you came, I was empty-handed and directionless,” she tells a visiting Open Doors worker.
Boko Haram started out primarily as a Nigerian terrorist group, but its violence has spread to Cameroon, Chad and Niger. Like Islamic State, it wants to establish a Sharia state. Insecurity intensified for these nations when they joined Nigeria in their fight against the insurgents. In Cameroon, the group has demolished towns and abducted people. The effect on the Church has been devastating; Christians have been displaced, disrupted and traumatized.
Relief agencies estimate that half of the 5.5 million living in the conflict areas of Nigeria, Cameroon, Niger and Chad have been displaced. The far north of Cameroon is hosting thousands of refugees and Internally Displaced People (IDPs), of which one in three is malnourished and one in 10 is almost starving. Because of continuing insecurity, the circumstances probably won’t improve soon – crop failure is expected. Open Doors representatives visited to see for themselves.
On top of the physical impact of the insurgency, the people in northern Cameroon have to contend with the disruption of the education of their children. Thousands of students risk losing an entire academic year as a result of school closures.
But the people are also deeply traumatized.
“People have seen terrorists with guns show up in their villages and kill their families, or have had their villages torched. The impact has been devastating,” explains Toby Lanzer, an United Nations expert.
Open Doors has been bringing hope to Christians affected by these circumstances. Open Doors has offered help on five levels: emergency relief, encouragement visits, equipping of trauma care workers, Bible deliveries and Standing Strong through the Storm training to help them cope with persecution from a biblical perspective.
“I thank God who has brought you (Open Doors) to provide these things for us. I am very grateful for it, because it has helped me and my family a lot,” said one recipient.
Please pray for the refugees in northern Cameroon and surrounding countries.
Compiled by Jerry Dykstra. For media inquiries, contact Christine Cape at 404-545-0085 or Christy Lynn Wilson at 770-401-9842.