In late September on the outskirts of Jos, assailants attacked a neighborhood, killing a total of 15 villagers. Most of the Nigerian victims were part of 23-year-old Blessing Kogi’s family. We offer this firsthand account to help you understand the threat of violence that Christians live under in places like Nigeria. As you listen to Blessing Kogi’s story, please remember to lift up her and the church in Nigeria that continues to witness bloodshed.
For many college students, returning home for a weekend visit is a welcome respite. Nigerian student, 23-year-old Blessing Kogi, was no different. She came home to her family’s quiet, residential neighborhood on the outskirts of Jos, expecting to catch up on life with immediate and extended family. That night, 12 family members had gathered for dinner together.
But the visit everyone had looked forward to would be the last time Precious would gather with her family. It would be the last time a visit home from college would include her mother, her grandmother, her three siblings, two cousins, her sister-in-law and nephew.
The family had just sat down to dinner in her grandmother’s room when armed men entered the family’s compound and burst in, opening fire. Recently, Blessing shared with World Watch Monitor about the attack that claimed most of her family.
“I fell on the floor and played dead,” she said. “But one of the men still came to where I was and shot me twice–on my neck and shoulder. When they went out, I noticed I was able to move, so I got up and went inside the bedroom and hid under the bed. They noticed two of my cousins were still alive. They shot one of them in three places, but she survived. One of the men raped my other cousin and shot her afterward.
“Two of my cousins also managed to hide under the bed. But unfortunately, the gunmen came back a second time. They noticed two of my cousins were still alive and shot one in three places, but she survived. One of the men raped my other cousin and shot her afterward.
For more than an hour, Blessing hid under the bed. When she heard neighbors’ voices, she came out from hiding and was rushed to the hospital.
‘My Father Needs Prayers’
Blessing’s father, who was at work when the attack happened, is disoriented, unable to talk and eat.
“He just needs prayers,” Blessing says. “Since the attack, he is just confused, he cannot talk, cannot eat. I don’t know what to do.”
Blessing is recovering from her injuries to her neck and shoulder but remains traumatized by what she saw experienced. The attack also provoked violent citywide protests the following day. According to local sources, dozens of people lost their lives between September 27-30 in various acts of violence across the city. A number of properties were also looted or destroyed.
“Many lives have been lost,” said Rev. Dr. Soja Bewarang, the chairman of the Plateau state chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria. “Also, properties, including church buildings, have been destroyed. Many people have been displaced. People are living in fear, not knowing when death and destruction will visit their community.”
Praying with Blessing and the Nigerian church
Father, we pray with this young girl, her father and her cousin who have lost so much in just one night. God, we ask You to be tangibly close to them as they grieve and attempt to live as a family. We pray that You would place people and other resources in their paths to carry them and walk beside them. We admit that it’s hard to know what words to pray amid so much loss, and we come to You now with hearts broken for Blessing and her family. Thank you for hearing our hearts and for being near to those broken in spirit.
“The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:18).
Above image: 23-year-old Blessing Kogi
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