The drone of approaching vehicles sent a wave of panic over the congregation of Nigerians packed into the village church. Their voices loud with worship instantaneously fell to hushed prayers.
Recent attacks against Christians in northern Nigeria had put them on edge. Churches and homes had been bombed or burned to the ground with families still inside. Some Christians were bound and dragged to their deaths behind cars. Others had been executed and left in the street. Now, rumors of an impending strike swirled among local communities.
Within moments, several trucks were visible through the windows. They were nearing the church in the center of the village, leaving behind a cloud of dust. Men in mismatched uniforms could be seen through the haze, rifles slung across their bodies.
The Boko Haram.
In a matter of minutes, the armed men had mercilessly gunned down dozens of men, women, and children. The bloodbath was just one of Boko Haram’s sprees to “purge” Nigeria of Christianity in order to make way for Sharia law.
In the past few years, strings of violent incidents targeting Christians here have increased dramatically. Nigeria is host to one of the largest Christian populations in Africa. And as the influence of religious extremism grows, so do the accounts of senseless killing.
Boko Haram, which literally translated means “Western education is a sin,” terrorizes large areas of Nigeria’s Christian population, including those in other religious minority groups. The U.S. State Department has categorized the group as the world’s second most dangerous terrorist network.
Nigeria is a multi-ethnic and spiritually diverse nation, divided greatly between the country’s north and south. The nation’s social and religious atmospheres are unstable and complex. Yet one thing is certain: Christians are paying dearly from the blows of full-out terrorism.
As we prepare for the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church on November 3, World Help asks you to be in constant prayer for Christ followers in Nigeria.
Countless are illegally being denied their political privileges. Many schools have been targeted by Boko Haram in order to suppress the freedom of Christian communities. These believers are undergoing harassment and manipulation, while being denied their fundamental rights. In fact, terrorism has displaced thousands in the last several years alone.
Pray for the endurance of these Christians. Pray for their protection and unity. Pray that despite the terrorism they face on a daily basis, they would stand strong in the power of Christ.
Go to worldhelp.net/prayer to learn more about the plight of the global body of persecuted Christians. Here you’ll find more information, prayer requests, and testimonies. While you’re there, take advantage of our free half-page bulletin insert. This is a perfect way to share with your own church how you can stand together as one body in prayer.
As you pray for our brothers and sisters around the world, consider giving the gift of God’s Word. World Help works year round to provide Bibles through our global distribution network. The need is always pressing, particularly in countries hostile toward Christians. For every $5 raised, we can supply the gift of the Word to a Christian in desperate need of spiritual comfort.