BreakPoint: Nigeria’s Forgotten Christians

Stand with Our Brothers and Sisters

Almost nobody knows what’s happening to the Christians of Nigeria—but even fewer care. Here’s why we should.

In Nigeria, which is Africa’s most populous country, Christians don’t have time to worry about culture wars. They’re too busy facing a real one instigated by their Muslim neighbors and by a government that has studiously decided to look the other way. The scope of the violence is so vast as to be almost beyond belief, so let me first give you a snapshot of what’s happening on the ground.

Deborah, now 31 and living in a camp for the internally displaced, was captured by the Boko Haram terrorist group and held captive for a year and a half. The Islamists came to her village and slaughtered her husband and family before abducting her and “marrying” her off to a 20-year-old Muslim terrorist, who complained of her argumentativeness while raping and impregnating her. After Deborah was recaptured following an escape, she received 80 lashes as punishment. She told journalist Douglas Murray that she no longer fears death.

“What sort of death would I be running from?” Deborah asks. “I have already died once.”

You could repeat Deborah’s basic story countless times in Nigeria. Operation World estimates that Nigeria, which is an officially secular state with a Muslim president, is 51 percent Christian and 45 percent Muslim. Since 1999, the West African nation of about 158 million people has been convulsed by ongoing attempts at imposing Islamic law in eight northern, mostly Muslim states, as well as in four other states where Christians predominate or where the numbers are fairly even.

Things are particularly bad in the north right now. Unarmed Christian villages there are sitting ducks for Muslim Fulani tribesmen, who have been armed with weaponry provided by elements in the national military. According to The Spectator, it’s religiously motivated genocide, although outside agencies dismiss the violence as tit-for-tat.

“The locals daren’t collect the freshest bodies,” the magazine reports. “Some who tried earlier have already been killed, spotted by the waiting militia and hacked down or shot. The Fulani are watching everything closely from the surrounding mountains. Every week, their progress across the northern states of Plateau and Kaduna continues. Every week, more massacres—another village burned, its church razed, its inhabitants slaughtered, raped or chased away.”

Open Doors USA, as part of its annual World Watch List, says the killings have jumped by a whopping 62 percent in a year. And while Nigeria is No. 12 on the World Watch List of Christian persecution globally, it’s in the top 10 in terms of overall violence.

And yet it’s not all gloom and doom in Nigeria. As Tertullian reminded us, the blood of the martyrs is often the seed of the church. Operation World says the country now boasts a strong prayer movement, dynamic church growth, and a growing missionary movement, with more than 5,000 cross-cultural workers—many of them in Nigeria or in other African nations.

So while much of the world has forgotten about Nigeria’s persecuted Christians, surely those of us in the West cannot. They are our brothers and sisters, and they’re doing great things in the midst of severe trials. Let’s hold them up in powerful, prevailing prayer.

Let’s also speak up to the new administration in Washington, which says it will stand up for persecuted Christians around the world. Let’s remind them of their promises and make sure they follow through.

The Christians of Nigeria need us, and since we are members of the same worldwide Body of Christ, we need them.

Come to BreakPoint.org and click on this commentary for organizations that assist the persecuted, and for information on contacting the White House and State Department.

Further Reading and Information

Nigeria’s Forgotten Christians: Stand with Our Brothers and Sisters

Click on the links below to find organizations that help persecuted believers worldwide. Then support their efforts financially or physically. To read more about the crisis in the Christian communities of Nigeria, check out the linked resources.

 

Find a BreakPoint radio station in your area–Click here.

 

Voice of the Martyrs

Freedom House

International Christian Concern

Christian Solidarity International

Contact the White House

Contact the State Department

 

Resources

Who will protect Nigeria’s northern Christians?
  • Douglas Murray
  • The Spectator
  • February 4, 2017
'A Blast of Hell'
  • Stan Guthrie
  • ChristianityToday.com
  • October 7, 2002
‘Worst Year Yet’: The Top 50 Countries Where It’s Hardest to Be a Christian
  • Jeremy Weber
  • ChristianityToday.com
  • January 11, 2017

Comment Policy: Commenters are welcome to argue all points of view, but they are asked to do it civilly and respectfully. Comments that call names, insult other people or groups, use profanity or obscenity, repeat the same points over and over, or make personal remarks about other commenters will be deleted. After multiple infractions, commenters may be banned.

  • Jacqueline Samuels

    Good morning, Eric. I enjoy listening to your radio clips on WIHS-FM in Connecticut almost every morning while providing care for my 85 year old mother. Since God has blessed me to return to UCONN to pursue my doctorate, I have learned a few things that have disturbed me and so I have a question/request: as brother and sisters here in the United States face various forms of continuous and increasing discrimination (some overt and some under the guise of changes that are supposed to be “good for the country”), will you join me in caring enough to find out more and address it? It is understood that if you and those who look like you are not affected that it may seem a nuisance or insignificant, but we cannot claim concern for the brethren in other countries who do not look like or share the same customs as us and neglect the rest of our Blood relatives who are right here. I expect you to care more than we were raised and educated to care or consider beyond what we thought we understood. Thank you.

  • Colby

    Wow!

  • Robbert Yoshimaru

    I was talking to a woman who immigrated from a small town in the Philippines. She related her experience how the town, which was predominantly Roman Catholic was virtually violence free for literally Centuries. That is until the Muslim population began to increase and they began building a mosque. Once the mosque was completed, the level of violence in the town suddenly spiked and eventually the majority of non-Muslims were driven out. My point is that in accepting refugees, illegal residents and immigrants, we need to be cognizant of the fact that in addition to Muslim refugees, we have a significant number of people here who are still traumatized by their experience at the ands of Muslims. They need to feel safe in the West as much as Muslim refugees.

  • BJ

    You ask yourself first what is the meaning of NIGERIA.

  • BJ

    It is an unholy marriage instituted by the British just for their Economic interest.

  • BJ

    Before 1914 there was nothing like Nigeria. Nigeria was created in England just for the British. Without referendum, consensus. They amalgamated the Muslims with Christians. People who don’t have the same believe system, they don’t eat the same food. They don’t have the same religion, not the same attire. they don’t resemble facially. It is now the breeding ground for terrorism. Over three million Christian died in Nigeria between 1967-1970 under the watch of the British government. Peoples whose lives is as important ast the lives of THERSA MAY. British media can’t give you full details. Propoganda BBC can’t say what is happening in NIGERIA because BRITAIN WANT OIL AND GAS. THEY WANT TO MAINTAIN THEIR COLONY. Who can a society be more important than people living in it. We always pray that God will visit British and their posterity.

  • James Mace

    Thanks Eric for highlighting this issue. Edifying the loving global solidarity of the Church in the face of Muslim and Socialist persecution is perhaps the best large-scale tactic to restore the centripetal evangelistic attraction mandated by Christ in John 17, etc., as our primary means of inspiring conversion. In the near future, your desire for loving Christian support for the persecuted will be empowered by ongoing academic biblical theological work now in process of establishing that the Second Great Commandment is still in the New Covenant (despite traditional misinterpretation of the Luke 10 Samaritan Parable) just as it is in the Old (Lev 19:17-18), a foundational command for primacy of extraordinary loving unity within the covenant people (before addressing extra-ecclesial relations with outsiders).

    That is, the main reason why we should care about persecuted Nigerian Christians is because we are commanded to put the Second Great Commandment of loving assistance to suffering brethren (across sectarian, ethnic, and national lines), with the First, above/before all other human concerns of whatever kind: “On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets” (Matt 22:40). No other concern towards helping humans precedes the Second Great Commandment in the Ordo Amoris, the correct ordering of loves within God’s revealed plan.