West Africa (MNN) — Christian workers say militant Islamist group Boko Haram is having a major impact on their work in West Africa. Boko Haram continues its reign of terror in Nigeria, with threats to expand terrorist activities into neighboring countries.
“You will see what we will do to you,” said Abubakar Shekau, Boko Haram’s head, in a 36-minute video posted on YouTube last week after leaders on the continent agreed to form a joint force to fight the insurgents.
Indiscriminate attacks by the Islamist militant group Boko Haram in northern Nigeria are causing immense suffering. A violent campaign is being waged against innocent civilians who are being killed, chased, enrolled, or enslaved.
On Sunday, Boko Haram fighters attacked Nigeria’s strategically important northeastern city of Maiduguri and captured the town of Monguno. Dozens are reported dead.
But even in this atmosphere of violence and uncertainty, the gospel message is going forth and impacting receptive hearts.
Greg Dorsey,* a Christian worker in West Africa, said Nigerian Christians are effectively engaging many areas of the country.
“The northeastern corner of Nigeria where Boko Haram has wielded most of it activities remains a difficult area for believers to freely worship and share their faith. However, God has raised up believers who have remained steadfast and bold in the midst of applied pressures to silence them,” Dorsey said.
Another Christian worker told of hearing the testimonies of believers from troubled areas of northern Nigeria at a recent meeting. “Each one that shared was brought to the Lord by a brother or other close relative. Earlier this year, some of these same men were imprisoned. While we prayed for their release, they were sharing their faith and welcoming new brothers into the Christ-life.”
One man exhibited amazing joy in Christ even as he showed scars from his imprisonment and torture. The day after the man shared his story, he received a phone call that his house had been burned and his family scattered.
Halima’s and Amina’s lives and families have been shattered. Widowed and separated from their children, their grief is palpable.
According to Christian workers, Nigerians are seeking peace in the midst of the country’s struggles. One shared the story of a religious leader who said, “I’ve searched the Quran for peace, and every time, Jesus is mentioned. Can you tell me about Him?” After hearing stories of Jesus, the man repented, prayed for salvation, and was later baptized.
As Boko Haram proceeds with its efforts to create an Islamic state in West Africa, Christians continue to face persecution. And yet believers are reminded that even their persecutors can experience the power of the gospel.
“Remember that the apostle Paul was once a religious terrorist, until he met Jesus on the Damascus Road. Ask God to open the eyes of those who are blinded by the deceiver and bring them to Christ, that they too might become great evangelists,” one Christian leader said.
*Name changed for security.