Nigeria (VCM/ODM) — The worldwide attention to Nigeria’s Boko Haram’s atrocities is new, though the violence is not.
On Friday, the United Nations finally agreed to levy sanctions on the terror group. However, it seems that frozen assets, travel bans, and an arms embargo won’t do much, considering the group has been operating with impunity for five years.
In 2009 the Islamic extremist group, an al-Qaeda ally, vowed to rid the north of all non-Muslim influence, including Christians.
Since then, the attacks have been a constant barrage, escalating quickly this year, forcing the government of Nigeria to extend the state of emergency it declared in May 2013 for Yobe, Borno, and Adamawa states.
The measure was meant to assist the battle against the insurgents. Under the state of emergency, Boko Haram violence has continued and periodically intensified in certain areas, like Borno state.
Observers have been expressing doubt over the government’s ability to bring an end to the violence. The instability is causing Christians to fear for their safety during national elections set in February 2015.
The violence has been disruptive to outreach, sometimes personally so. Voice of the Martyrs Canada noted the late April murder of a VOM volunteer in Gwoza, Borno state. His death highlights the pressure on Christians in Gwoza, about five miles from the Cameroon border, not far from where the militants kidnapped 200+ schoolgirls.
At the time of his death, the volunteer was delivering hundreds of VOM-Nigeria newsletters. He also blessed the ministry by using his own vehicle to transport victims of attack to hospitals. In addition, he served as a contact person between VOM staff and others in the community such as widows, injured victims, Christian leaders, and local pastors. His killers reportedly stole 500 copies of the VOM newsletter from his car, and pastors in the area are now praying that the newsletters will minister to the militants.
This is an area that’s experienced repeated attacks from Boko Haram insurgents. Earlier VOM reports noted the displacement of 618 families. Boko Haram burned and destroyed 55+ churches and 541 homes of Christians, and the slaughter is in the hundreds in Gwoza–an area roughly the same size as Delaware.
VOM continues to work in Nigeria with a children’s home, schools, a prosthetic clinic, literature ministry, and family assistance. It’s done to help these faithful believers in Nigeria continue to advance the gospel in a hostile land. Yet, despite the extreme anxiety, believers haven’t given up. They’re asking you to pray for the strength of their faith, their boldness, and opportunity.
As we intercede on behalf of the Gwoza community, let us begin by expressing thanksgiving to the Lord for the dedication and ministry service of this faithful VOM volunteer. While we can rejoice that he is now experiencing life to the fullest, may we remember to pray for his family, friends, and all those he kindly assisted in the community who are mourning his tragic death. Please also join the pastors of this area in praying that the stolen newsletters will greatly impact the lives of many militants, serving as a means of drawing them into relationship with the one true God. Finally, bring the entire country of Nigeria before Him in prayer, asking that He use His people to extend peace and grace amid the violence.