The recent abduction of over 200 girls in Nigeria is bringing to the forefront Christian persecution in the country, Baptist Press reports. But hope is still present.
"Parts of Nigeria are in crisis due to the violence of Boko Haram and their attacks on churches and schools. They also kill other Muslims who do not agree with them. However, the work of the Gospel goes on and goes forward," International Mission Board worker Aaron Bryson* explained.
"Some of the persecution is 'low level,' such as families excluding someone who has accepted Christ," he said. "It can also be very violent … homes being burned and converts being killed.”
“Sometimes a new convert will have his wife taken away from him and his children also. Usually the wife will be taken back by her family and then given as a wife to another man."
Boko Haram is the radical Islamist group responsible for the most recent abduction of more than 200 girls, aged 16-18, from a Nigerian school.
The girls were a matter of prayer during the recent 100th anniversary of Baptist Convention Meetings in Nigeria. Charlotte Cearley, IMB prayer strategist for sub-Saharan Africa, along with more than 10,000 participants, gathered together to worship and pray for Nigeria.
"Well-educated, prosperous and affluent Nigerians met alongside herders and market sellers, their dividing walls broken down because of Christ," she said. "As we sang 'Now Thank We All Our God' and 'Faith of Our Fathers,' we celebrated God's purposes and plans for Nigeria in the past and into the future."
"The persecution of believers and the abduction of the school girls from the north highlighted several times in prayer reminded participants of places in Nigeria where celebration of belief in Christ is not celebrated, but cursed," Cearley said.
In November, dozens of Christians were reported murdered, Boko Haram again claiming responsibility.
Bryson and the IMB team in Nigeria encourage U.S. churches to adopt UUPGs (unengaged, unreached people groups) to consistently pray for them and engage with the Gospel and to receive training provided by the team.
"God is calling out committed churches to do this work [and] we need help on this team to facilitate those churches," Bryson said.
To learn more about how a church can become involved, contact affinity connections strategist Greg Queen at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Publication Date: May 13, 2014.