Horror at the frontlines in Nigeria

(Photo courtesy Open Doors USA)

(Photo courtesy Open Doors USA)

Nigeria (MNN) — December began with more bloodshed and violence in Nigeria.

Police say suspected Boko Haram militants struck in Maiduguri (the capital of Borno state) and in Damuraturu (the capital of Yobe state). Five people were killed, and at least 32 people were injured in those attacks.

A week ago, twin suicide bombings killed 78 people in Maiduguri, the capital of Borno state. It’s not your imagination that Boko Haram is much more active this year.

Open Doors USA President and CEO David Curry says, “They’ve been active for a long time, but I think the Islamic State has given them an extra game plan to play out, and people are now beginning to see Boko Haram’s actions in that light.”

Due to the spike in terror attacks, Borno, Yobe, and Adamawa states were placed under emergency rule by the government last year. The bigger question is: did it work? Not really. Curry explains, “People need to understand how ineffectual the government of Nigeria has been. To those of us who are observing this closely, it seems as though they’re intentionally dragging their feet in protecting these regions where Christians have been segregated.”

Boko Haram’s ability to overrun towns and carry out destructive bombings seems unchecked. The Nigerian senate has yet to vote on President Goodluck Jonathan’s request for further extension of emergency rule, which came to an end 21 November. In his opinion, Curry says, “I think they’re going to have to do more than impose a state of emergency. They’re going to have to put enough troops on the ground as the civil government to support and protect their citizens.”

At the same time, displaced Christians from Borno, Yobe, Adamawa, Gombe, and other states began staging protests to express their anger over the apparent neglect of the government.

(Photo courtesy Open Doors USA)

(Photo courtesy Open Doors USA)

This instability is adversely affecting the Church. After seeing the large number of casualties among Christians in the persistent attacks, many have opted to leave. This exodus is eroding the Church.

For those who remain, their dilemma is over how vigorously Christians should defend themselves and their families. On one hand, “We’ve got to be the loving hands of Jesus in Nigeria as the body of Christ.” On the other, how far does that go into militancy? It’s a fine line. “I do want to support them in their calls for more protection from the civil government of Nigeria.”

Open Doors has already distributed aid to the beleaguered believers and is planning extra relief items, along with trauma counseling. Pray that God would be at work through His Spirit in these very tragic circumstances. Pray for wisdom and courage for the government to take the necessary action against Boko Haram. Curry adds, “I think we need to be praying every day for persecuted believers in Nigeria so that we don’t get caught up just in our own Western world. We need to lift them up in prayer, and there are ways that you can support the work that we do there.”

Followers of Christ need encouragement and support. As noted in an earlier report from an Open Doors worker from northern Nigeria, The truth is: life in the region is very difficult, and every single day is a miracle.”