Persecuted, But Not Abandoned; Struck Down, But Not Destroyed

February 20, 2013 by Open Doors in General

Persecuted, But Not Abandoned; Struck Down, But Not Destroyed

In 2011, an ongoing wave of violence broke over Northern Nigeria with bomb attacks and burning of Christian churches, homes, and businesses. Hundreds of Christians were killed. The tragic loss of loved ones and the constant tensions of insecurity have affected a tremendous number of Christian families, a number that continues to rise dramatically.

Open Doors recently met Akono,* a church elder, who shares some of the effects the violence and killings have had on the believers, and asks that Christians in the West pray for their brothers and sisters in Nigeria.

Akono tells Open Doors that his church, which had about 500 members before the attacks started in 2011, has now dwindled to about 120 people. “All of us live in perpetual fear,” he shares. “Many times Christian homes are attacked during the night. His aunt, a Sunday school teacher, lost two sons, 14 and 15 years old. “Some men came there when her husband was not at home. They came to take her husband, but since he was not home, they killed their two boys in front of the mother.” Akono fought to suppress his emotions as he spoke.

Terrified by these incidents, Christians in the area have chosen not to go out. Because of this, many churches have been closed down, people have stopped attending, and the rest cannot afford to support the pastor. Akono’s church supports prayer houses in areas where there are no churches. Some people have chosen to stay, but the number has decreased due to the continuing violence. The churches also have an evangelizing strategy that supports new churches until they are self-sustaining. This work faces many challenges under the present conditions. “Several churches in Nigeria run evangelizing campaigns in Niger, Chad, Ghana and other countries all over Africa and that is why they are targeted,” he said “This is a spiritual battle.”

There is a television and radio station in the Sharia governed State where Akono lives, but no Christian programs are allowed. One can pay for Christian programs on national TV, but believers cannot use this tool to bring the gospel because of security concerns and limited funds. Churches have been forced to prioritize, and find themselves unable to support the prayer houses as previously.

“Approval to build churches can be given, but the work is many times being stopped by local politicians. Mission schools are being taken over by the government. The government schools don’t teach Christianity; they don’t appoint Christian teachers. But God is with us,” he says, “and we are prospering. We continue to build churches, even if the authorities try to stop us.”

“We thank God for the organizations that are coming here to help us. Thank you for coming; we cannot reach the world without your help,” said brother Akono.

The Open Doors workers adds, “We prayed together before he left. Churches throughout northern Nigeria are on their knees. They have been struck hard, but they are earnestly praying for the Lord’s intervention. Please join them in prayer.”

Father, once again our hearts weep as we bring the Christians in northern Nigeria before You. We know You hear their cries for mercy, and we know You are present with them in these dark days. Satan would use these incessant attacks to break down Your church, to destroy Your presence there. But we know that You have already defeated Satan, and while many continue to lose their earthly lives, Your church continues to grow. We pray that Your Spirit will stir the Christians to continue in fervent and faithful prayer. We pray that the churches that have closed down may be reopened and have pastors to lead them once again. In this spiritual battle, we pray against a spirit of despair, calling on You to strengthen their faith grant them hope. And we pray that Your Word, the gospel of Christ, would be preached in power and authority. In the name of Jesus our only true help, Amen.

*Pseudonym used to protect his identity

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