Boko Haram: why should we care?

(Image courtesy Open Doors USA)

(Image courtesy Open Doors USA)

Nigeria (MNN) — The Islamic terror group Boko Haram is in talks with Nigeria’s government. They might trade some of the kidnapped Chibok schoolgirls for 19 imprisoned Boko Haram commanders.

Former U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria, John Campbell, said in a recent blog that negotiations between Nigeria’s government and Boko Haram representatives should be resuming today. Talks paused for the weekend observance of Eid-el-Kabir, the Muslim holiday celebrating a twisted version of God’s provision of a ram to Abraham in Genesis 22.

Why isn’t this getting more attention in the Western news media?

To be fair, there are some big events competing for coverage: ISIS, the Ebola crisis, Ukraine rebels, to name a few. But by-and-large, Western news outlets have largely overlooked Boko Haram and its relentless hunt for Nigerian Christians.

Here’s a quick look at the rise of Boko Haram and why they’re targeting Nigeria’s Christians.

Boko Haram: an insider’s perspective

Dr. Bulus Galadima is the recently-appointed dean of Biola University’s Cook School of Intercultural Studies. Learn more about the school here.

Bulus Galadima

Dr. Bulus Galadima
(Photo credit Biola University

“In the West, it’s politically correct to say, ‘Well, it really isn’t that bad.’ [But] they have declared their intentions very clearly; their intention is to ‘wipe out’ Christianity,” states Galadima.

Galadima served for many years as the president of one of the largest evangelical graduate schools in Nigeria: ECWA Theological Seminary in Jos (Plateau State).

“[Boko Haram is] relentless; just unimaginable atrocities committed against Christians and against the Church. When they take cities, they do not release those, and it’s ‘Convert to Islam’ or you are killed,” Galadima recounts.

MNN caught up with him at the recent Missio Nexus Conference and asked him about the reality of Boko Haram. As a Nigerian, he confirms the reports that Christians are under relentless attack by the Islamic militant group.

Boko Haram: the martyrs

The ECWA Theological Seminary is located in Jos, Nigeria. (Map cred: The Nigerian Archive blog)

The ECWA Theological Seminary is located in Jos, Nigeria.
(Map credit The Nigerian Archive blog)

During Galadima’s time at ECWA, the school was under the threat of attack several times. Between 2008 and July 2014, when Galadima began serving at Biola, three ECWA students were killed by Muslims and Boko Haram.

Galadima regards the students as martyrs.

“Their stories are neat because you see people who are committed to the Lord Jesus Christ, and in the process of doing that, they were killed,” he shares.

Listen as Galadima tells the three students’ stories in full detail here.

Pastor Ephraim escaped with his family but decided to go back and warn church members to leave the area because of the danger. After he and a church elder warned believers, a Muslim mob attacked them with machetes, killing Ephraim and gravely wounding the church elder.

George was encouraging Christian refugees to hold fast to their faith despite Boko Haram threats. He was targeted and later killed by the terrorists and buried in a mass grave. George’s wife was expecting at the time, and Boko Haram killed this brave believer before he could meet his son or daughter.

Shem was killed by Boko Haram while traveling from a church in Jos to another part of the city. Galadima says Shem would’ve been carrying his Bible because he was interning at the church, and that’s why Boko Haram could easily pick him out of a crowd.

Boko Haram: your response

(Image courtesy Open Doors)

(Image courtesy Open Doors)

Instead of falling into a cycle of hatred and violence, Christians in Nigeria are doing the opposite, Galadima says. They are reaching out to their Muslim neighbors in love and kindness.

Galadima describes one situation where a mission partnered with ECWA to provide food, water, medicine, and other supplies to a mainly-Muslim refugee camp. While distributing the supplies, ECWA students engaged in conversation with some of the refugees and began to develop friendships.

“This Muslim man called our student and said, ‘Look, I am tired of this religion. I want to be a Christian,'” shares Galadima. The man and his entire family came to know Christ, and ECWA connected them with discipleship materials so they could grow in their relationship with the Lord.

In the full interview, Galadima shares another situation where ECWA students rescued a Muslim man who had been stabbed during a Boko Haram attack.

“The [Nigerian] Church is doing its best to stand strong” and demonstrate the compassion of Christ, Galadima concludes. The real question is: will you stand with them, or will you ignore the problem?

“The gates of hell will not prevail against the Church. So pray for the Church in Nigeria to remain strong, to be aggressive in its witness. Pray also for the government of Nigeria to have the strength and the courage to stand against the onslaught of [Boko Haram],” requests Galadima.

(Photo cred: Christian Aid Mission)

(Photo credit Christian Aid Mission)

“It’s [only] a matter of time, because as they continue to grow, [Boko Haram] would continue on this crusade. They have already said that their target was to ‘Islamize’ the whole world. The only antidote to that is for us to say, ‘In the name of Jesus Christ, we are going to reach out to Muslims around us, love them while we still have the opportunity.’

“If we don’t do that, some of the things happening in Nigeria and other places is likely going to happen here in the West.”