Displaying items by tag: Terrorism
IS has taken a firm grip on territory in Mozambique, far from its original strongholds in Syria. Even though it is losing territory in most other places, it has killed and kidnapped thousands in the country since 2017. Sphiwe, a Christian worker with Trans World Radio, says, ‘They behead people, they attack homes and villages. People live in fear. It causes displacement, as people move away to protect themselves.’ Many fear the next attack so much they avoid working in the fields. Christian broadcasting continues in troubled areas and also provides support for refugees. Sphiwe says, ‘It is emotionally draining. Sometimes they are adopted or taken in with other families, so that one family may end up having fifty people within one home because they are trying to help out.’ Pray for those fleeing from trauma in Mozambique to find hope and life in Jesus.
In 2014, militants stormed a boarding school in Chibok and kidnapped 276 girls. Dozens escaped almost immediately; another girl was found in May 2016. After government/Boko Haram negotiations, 21 more girls were released, then 82 were freed in a prisoner swap in 2017. Since then, nothing had been heard of the remaining captives, until Halima Ali Maiyanga called her father to say she had managed to escape on 28 January. ‘She asked me, Is this my daddy? and she started crying. The crying was so much I couldn't hear her very well. I was crying too. I never expected to hear from her again. Our house is full of people rejoicing with us.’ Halima and others are safe and being looked after by the Nigerian army. While we praise God for their escape, please continue to pray for the remaining girls and their families.
An attack on 28 November by Boko Haram terrorists on farmers working in rice fields in northeastern Nigeria killed at least 110 people. ‘The incident is the most violent direct attack against innocent civilians this year. Many women are also believed to have been kidnapped. Security forces and volunteer vigilante groups are searching to find people still missing. Locals say they recovered 43 bodies in villages near Maiduguri, the capital of the restive Borno state, which has been plagued by an armed campaign for over ten years. A local resident said, ‘Nobody knows the exact number of people killed. We can’t account for farmers who were there; we don’t know if they are hiding in the bush or if they were kidnapped.’ Pray for God to comfort the mourners. See also
Nigeria is presently passing through one of her most difficult times in history. The church is facing an existential threat from islamists with a clear agenda to overrun the entire nation.
Unfortunately, there is a conspiracy of silence by the international media concerning the atrocities taking place in Nigeria (similar to what happened in 1994 before the genocide in Rwanda). In an opinion piece on The Wall Street Journal of 20th December, 2019, Bernard-Henri Lévy wrote: “A slow-motion war is under way in Africa’s most populous country. It’s a massacre of Christians, massive in scale and horrific in brutality. And the world has hardly noticed.”
In recent years, Nigeria has been consistently ranked among the top five nations on the Global Terrorism Index. Of the four deadliest terrorist groups in the world, three operate in Nigeria: Islamic State of West Africa Province, ISWAP, an offshoot of ISIS; Boko Haram; and Fulani Herdsmen (militants). In Nigeria, the three groups are united in their goal to exterminate Christians especially in Northern Nigeria and ultimately make Nigeria an Islamic nation. They seem to have the will and wherewithal to accomplish their goal unless the Lord stops them.
In the past, they were restrained by government’s honest prosecution of the war against terrorism. But in the last five years, a new government, led by people who have been accused of being sympathetic to the Islamic agenda, has been unsuccessful in stemming the rampage of the terrorist groups. Curiously, almost the entire military and security agencies of Nigeria are under the control of devout Muslims (mostly Fulanis), some of whom have been accused of aiding and abetting the terrorists. A respected former president of Nigeria, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, has openly accused the government of having a “fulanisation and islamisation agenda.”
The well-known historian and theologian, Professor Philip Jenkins, in his book entitled, The Next Christendom, aptly stated that: “At least, 45% of Nigerians are currently Christians, some 72 million people. But how will the number change in future decades? No church or religion has a guaranteed market share in any country. It is quite possible to imagine a scenario in which the proportion of the Nigerian Christians could fall as low as 10% in the event of persecution or a successful jihad by the nation’s Muslims. The figure could rise higher if a sweeping Christian revival were to occur.” The activities of the terrorists and the policies of the government are tending towards the former. The only acceptable option for the church in Nigeria is revival, that is why we must pray.
See Obianuju Ekeocha's emotive video pleading for prayer and action on this serious situation in Northern Nigeria. It contains graphic images of the Kukum Daji massacre aftermath that took place in July 2020:
The following prayer points are only a guide. May the Lord bring us to the depth of prayers that would stem this rising tide of violence in Nigeria.
1. TERRORIST GROUPS. ISWAP, Boko Haram, and Fulani Herdsmen are ranked 2nd, 3rd and 4th on the Global Terrorism Index. The Nigerian government does not still consider militant Fulani Herdsmen a terrorist group. This has enabled them to continue with their mayhem against Christian communities while the security officers look the other way. The activities of the herdsmen now extend to virtually every part of the country. There are speculations that it is a modern form of jihad. Pray that God would stir up a national and international outcry and action against these groups.
2. PERSECUTION OF CHRISTIANS IN THE NORTH. Pray that God would strengthen the Christians in the north. Many pastors and their members have been murdered by Islamic fundamentalists. Sometimes, these executions are carried out in the community square before children and other onlookers to inflict further pain on those who survive. Many of these Believers have been traumatised and scared for life. Pray for God to heal their emotions and strengthen their faith.
3. ECONOMIC JIHAD. There is an ‘economic jihad’ that is being waged against non-Muslims, especially Christians. Christians are losing their jobs and are being replaced by Muslims; Christian farm lands are either expropriated by state governments in the North or forcefully taken over by Fulani herders. Pray for God to comfort and provide for His people in their sufferings.
Download the full Nigeria Prayer Guide with 16 different prayer pointers from the IPC Website
Pastor Austen Ukachi – IPC West Africa Director
Twenty-four people, including the pastor, were killed and eighteen injured by gunmen at a Protestant church in the village of Pansi. Individuals were also kidnapped during the Sunday attack by armed terrorists. The regional governor, Colonel Salfo Kabore, said they attacked the peaceful local Christian population, after having identified them and separated them from ‘non-residents’. Some villagers fled to the town of Sebba near the Niger border. There have been several attacks against churches by militant Islamist groups in recent years. Pray for those people of Burkina Faso who are at serious risk of being killed for not converting to extreme factions of Islam.
On 21 January (see) the media reported that terror offenders will face more time in jail and be monitored more closely, as part of new laws being introduced within weeks. Automatic early release from prison will be scrapped, while a minimum jail term of 14 years for serious crimes will be introduced. The Home Office said that a bill would be brought before Parliament by mid-March. Before these measures could be implemented, on 2 February Sudesh Amman, released from prison in January, attacked several people with a knife in Streatham. Home secretary Priti Patel is now calling for even tougher measures regarding the jailing of terrorists in the wake of this attack. The ministry of justice said the legislation would be introduced ‘when parliamentary time allows’. The government will also consider new legislation to ensure that extremists are more closely monitored on release, and will review whether the current maximum sentences for terrorist offences are sufficient.
On 2 January, Rev Lawan Andimi was abducted by Boko Haram. He pleaded with the government and the leadership of CAN (Christian Association of Nigeria) to come to his rescue, adding that his captors were taking good care of him and ‘hoped he would return home safely if it was the will of God’. The insurgents demanded two million euros for his release, but then went ahead and beheaded him. Bishop Mamza, of CAN, said that another pastor had been abducted and killed almost at the same time. Stating that Boko Haram had not been defeated or suppressed, he urged the government to tell Nigerians the truth. President Buhari expressed sadness and sympathy, but another CAN spokesman described the unabated kidnappings and killings as ‘shameful’ to the government. Pray for God’s comfort to embrace those living in sorrow and fear.
Insecurity in some parts of the country has led people to form their own vigilante units. A reporter writes, ‘Last week, I helped pay a ransom to free the kidnapped wife and two daughters of a friend; they had been held for eight days after being snatched from their home in the northern city of Kaduna. What I did is no longer unusual, and is one of the many stories resulting from insecurity in this vast country. The government is accused of ineffectiveness, and the governors of six states in the south-west of the country have come up with their own plan to set up a security outfit called amotekun (leopard). It will involve employing new security personnel, with the power to arrest and share intelligence and security infrastructure across the states. The plan has riled the national authorities, and led some to accuse the six states of plotting to secede from Nigeria.
Could the faith statement of an executed Christian leader encourage Christians facing persecution in Nigeria? Boko Haram beheaded Rev Lawan Andimi, chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN). But could a faith message that militants recorded with him be an own goal for terrorists? CAN has urged Nigeria’s government and the international community to act decisively to help Christians under attack in Nigeria, calling for three days of prayer and fasting for effective action. The Church views the unabated kidnappings and killings as shameful for a government boasting that it has conquered insurgency. ‘Each time the government claims the defeat of the insurgency, more killings of our people are committed. We are almost losing hope in our government’s ability to protect Nigerians – especially Christians, who have become an endangered species under its watch.’
Islamic scholar and Christian Dr Antony McRoy said that there is something wrong in the basic philosophy of de-radicalisation programmes for terrorists; the London Bridge killings by Usman Khan are evidence of that. McRoy says that we are treating them as criminal offenders like serial car thieves or bank robbers, but we need to think a bit more like serial murderers or serial sex offenders who obviously have got something psychologically wrong with them. ‘But it's even more complex than that. These people are motivated by an ideology which says that the infidel, anti-Islamic West, is basically an agent of Satan, oppressing the Muslim world.’ He argues that the governments putting these programmes together represent a regime that its participants cannot get behind. ‘The people it is supposed to address are not going to take it seriously. These schemes cannot be effective without the supernatural intervention of God’ - like the transformation of the apostle Paul.