Nigerian Christians face constant threat of kidnapping, death

by Jacob Fuller

Willie R. Tubbs, FISM News


The cost of professing Christ in the West African nation of Nigeria has become dire, and numerous Christian media outlets have reported the horrors to which believers have been subjected.

Both the Christian Post and World Magazine have produced features that detail kidnappings, murders, and other forms of oppression Christians face at the hands of those who violently reject the Gospel and seek to take advantage of the gentle souls who populate Christian missions.

According to the Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA), whose plight was highlighted in the Christian Post, six of that denomination’s pastors have been murdered and 27 Christians kidnapped since the start of the year.

“Paul said in Romans that nothing shall be able to separate us from the love of God,” James Saleh, an ECWA coordinator, told the Christian Post. “As long as hell and heaven exist, the gospel must thrive.”

The ECWA reports that the responsible parties are Fulani herdsmen, a tribe of nomadic cattle farmers who also engage in wanton acts of terrorism. This year, they have carried out raids on various villages and often target Christians specifically.

During the worst of these raids, which happened in June, the Fulani killed a pastor and abducted 17 believers.

“At about 7 a.m., one of our missionaries was leading a prayer meeting when herdsmen stormed the village, killing and destroying anything in sight,” ECWA coordinator Mac Philips told the Christian Post. “The armed terrorists stormed the prayer house, met them praying, and opened fire on the missionary.”

Philips added, “The herdsmen then abducted all the women in the church, and many other men and women in the community, and left. Continue to pray for God’s protection upon our missionaries who are constantly in the line of fire, yet they have remained courageous to continue serving Him in various mission fields.”

According to a report in the World, which featured the story of the Rev. Emmanuel Ojeifo, a Nigerian Catholic priest, the Fulani’s motivations are driven as much by the nature of Christian leaders as it is doctrinal objections. Because of missionaries’ peaceful demeanor, they are viewed as “soft targets.”

“The age of martyrdom has come back to the church in a very concrete way in Nigeria,” Nina Shea, director of the Center for Religious Freedom at the Hudson Institute, told World. “And when we read the lives of the early martyrs, how they were slaughtered, how they were killed and attacked, we just see that this is what we are living through in these days.”

According to the World report, which featured statistics gleaned from Nigeria’s Daily Trust newspaper, there have been at least 18 Catholic priests kidnapped since January.