Christian community in Nigeria worship for the first time after being assaulted
07/09/2021 Nigeria (International Christian Concern) – In Plateau State, Nigeria, July brings heavy rains. It is a busy season for the region’s large farming community: crops must be planted and maintained, and rains must be plentiful for the harvest in September and October to be successful. However, for a Plateau community, the rainy summer months were slightly different this year, as they worked to recover after being attacked by Fulani militants in July.
For Ibrahim Isah, the July attack was particularly sobering. He is a Fulani himself and converted to Christianity some time ago. He is currently pastor of the Evangelical All-Winning Church (ECWA) in Jebbu Miango, near Jos, the capital of the Plateau. “My tribesmen came and destroyed my house by setting it on fire” he told ICC. “I escaped, but my entire property was set on fire. “
In addition to his pastoral duties, Isah coordinates the Fulani Christian ministry in Kpachudu Miango and helped his community rebuild in the months following the attack. He spoke with ICC about the experience of a recent Sunday after leading his congregation in its first Sunday service since the July attack that displaced more than 5,000 residents and razed more than 250 homes.
Many displaced church members attended fellowship that Sunday, including some who had fled to the outskirts of Jos for safety.
Pastor Gah Yohana spoke of Romans 8: 28-39, reminding his listeners that “God will bring good things. “ He encouraged his heartbroken audience to continue believing that God “in his time will change all things for the good of those who love him” and urged them to remember that, despite their heartbreaking experiences, nothing could separate them from the love of God.
Gah expressed dismay at a young man who publicly denounced his faith and urged Christians to stand firm in the face of persecution, building on the hope found in the pages of the Holy Bible.
Reverend Danladi Chohu, who led the fellowship, expressed satisfaction at the spiritual commitment of 41 widows who, though displaced, collected their tithes and sent them to the church board. Chohu described the act of widows as one of the “Absolute dependence on God”.
The service felt like a family reunion as the congregation expressed gratitude to God for sparing their lives and prayed for the grace of God to overcome the agony of their experience.
Twenty-three kilometers from Jebbu Miango’s service, other churches in Maiyanga Kwall district could not pray for fear of attack. “Our condition is so bad that if you saw it you would cry” said a church leader from Maiyanga Kwall. Two ECWA churches and a Roman Catholic church were recently burned down in this area.
Back in Miango, an ICC contact engaged with survivors of the attacks who have lost hope.
One of those survivors, Ruth Sunday, is the three-month-old survivor of an armed invasion of Fulani militias in August that razed nine villages, killed more than seventy innocent people and destroyed large swathes of farmland in the Kwall district of the Irigwe chiefdom in Bassa. , Plateau State.
Ruth is the only daughter of the late Hannatu Joshua Yakubu of Maiyanga village. When Yakubu and several other women with her were discovered in their hiding place, they begged the Fulani activists to have mercy on them and spare their lives. According to Ruth’s grandmother, who survived the incident and is currently being treated, the activists responded that they had been sent by their father on a noble mission to kill the infidels.
Yakubu begged them to at least spare the life of his innocent child. The activists agreed, but said the little girl would starve anyway. After helping Yakubu remove the child from her back, they then shot her alongside the other women and children in the hiding place. Ruth was found alive and returned to her father who currently lives with his in-laws because his own house was burnt down.
Ruth is currently in the care of her aunt who lives in the outskirts of Jos with her family. This aunt has three children of her own and is a small shopkeeper while her husband works as a bricklayer. They don’t have much but have promised to take care of the baby as best they can although they cannot send their own children to school for lack of funds. An ICC contact in the area spoke to them and said the family urgently needed clothes, milk, diapers, toiletries and a water bottle.
Nigeria has long suffered at the hands of violent militants, especially in its Middle Belt region where militants have killed tens of thousands and displaced millions. Over the years, the Nigerian government has proven to be totally ineffective against violence and lacks care for the Christian community, which bears the brunt of violence. The international community should pressure the Nigerian government to take the persecution seriously.
For interviews, please contact Addison Parker at: [email protected]