After failed attempts to get the Nigerian government to help Christians being targeted by Islamic terrorist groups in northeast Nigeria, Christian leaders called upon believers worldwide to pray for their protection.
Turning a blind eye to terrorism
Rev. Stephen Baba Panya is president of Evangelical Church Winning All. Panya and other Christian leaders recently called for government officials in Nigeria to demand Boko Haram and Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) – its offshoot terrorist organization formed in 2016 – to set four church members free after being held as longtime captives. This comes after a series of the Islamic terrorist groups attacks and kidnappings in the northeast Nigeria.
Panya is asking for Christians to pray for 112 of the 276 girls who remain captive after being kidnapped in 2014 from a high school in Chibok, Borno state, as well as for another high school student, Leah Sharibu, university student Lillian Gyang and two aid workers.
"Please join faith with me and let us pray standing on God's promises in Matthew 18:18–19 that Boko Haram/ISWAP or any other Islamic terror group shall not determine the fate of God's beloved daughters Leah Sharibu, Alice Loksha Ngaddah, Grace Lucas, and Lillian Gyang, who are ECWA members, and also [for] the remaining Chibok girls," Panya expressed in a statement issued to Morning Star News.
Terrorists on the prowl
In addition to the tragic 2014 mass kidnapping by Islamic terrorists, many other abductions have taken place over the past few years, according to the Morning Star News:
- "Leah Sharibu – 15 years old when she was kidnapped by Boko Haram on Feb. 19, 2018, from the Government Girls' Science and Technical College, in Dapchi, Yobe state – was one of 110 girls taken captive; the 109 Muslim girls were released while Leah remained captive when she refused to renounce her Christian faith."
- "Ngaddah – mother of two children and an aid worker with UNICEF – was abducted on March 1, 2018, in Rann, Borno state, when ISWAP militants attacked an Internally Displaced Persons camp where she was working. Her aged mother reportedly died of trauma soon after learning about the kidnapping."
- "Taku – a health worker with Action Against Hunger – was kidnapped by ISWAP militants on July 18, 2019, along the Damasak-Maiduguri highway in Borno state. She also was ministering to displaced people."
- "Lillian Daniel Gyang – a student at the University of Maiduguri (UNIMAID) in Borno state – was kidnapped on Jan. 9 by ISWAP while returning to school from the Christmas and New Year's break from her native Plateau state."
Latest rounds of jihadist violence
On November 8, after Sunday night services, Boko Haram targeted Borno state Christian communities in two towns as part of their campaign to spread brutal Islamic sharia law across Nigeria.
"The attacks on Pulka and Gwoza towns started at about 9 p.m. and lasted till around 11 p.m.," local resident Vanessa Muda informed the Morning Star News. "The Boko Haram terrorists invaded our towns, shooting indiscriminately on our people."
According to another local, the Boko Haram terrorists were armed with a large cache of weapons.
"They were repelled when personnel of the Nigerian army who were stationed here fought them and forced them to retreat from Gwoza and Pulka towns," resident Polycarp John explained to the Morning Star News. "Our towns have been under constant attacks from Boko Haram since 2014, and at a time, Gwoza town was made the headquarters of the Boko Haram caliphate until the Nigeria army retook the town from them in 2018."
Just days after leaders from the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria (EYN) asked for prayer to protect Christians subjected to terrorism at the hands of Boko Haram and ISWAP, attacks followed.
"It is harvest time – which is challenging in normal years – but in these past years, [it] includes the threat of Boko Haram destroying the crop or attacking people as they harvest," the leaders informed the Morning Star News in an email on Nov. 6. "Pray for many vulnerable villages in southern Borno state and other areas far from military bases."
Family Research Council senior fellow Lela Gilbert, who focuses on international religious freedom, laments that Islamic terrorist attacks are only getting worse – even as church leaders from numerous denominations and human rights activists continually appeal for the jihadist violence to stop.
"Many informed observers describe Nigeria's political leadership as both incompetent and corrupt, but that's only part of the problem," Gilbert argued, according to the Morning Start News. "Not only are they almost entirely Muslim in their religious affiliation (while the country's population is roughly half Christian), as previously noted, several governmental leaders – beginning with President Muhammadu Buhari – belong to the Fulani tribe, as do numerous military and police officials. This is seen as one of the major roadblocks to reform – particularly with regard to the Fulani jihadi massacres."
However, the Daily Trust newspaper in Nigeria recently reported that an Abu Dhabi Federal Court of Appeal convicted six Nigerians living in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) of funding Boko Haram terrorism with nearly $800,000 – with two being sentenced to life in prison and the other four receiving 10-year prison sentences.
Issuing a genocide warning earlier this year, Christian Solidarity International urged the United Nations Security Council to take action against the Islamic terrorism targeting Nigeria's Christians.
"[There is] a rising tide of violence directed against Nigerian Christians and others classified as ‘infidels' by Islamist militants in the country's north and middle belt regions,'" CSI announced in January.
Open Doors USA listed Nigeria as only second in the world to Pakistan in the number of Christians killed for their faith, and ranked it 12th on its 2020 World Watch List of nations where Christians suffer the worst persecution.