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Afiniki Bako and Grace Zugwai Nkut - Photo: Facebook / Fellowship Of Christian Nurses Nigeria
Abducted Christian nurses Afiniki and Grace.
Photo: Facebook

One person was killed, another wounded, and four women were abducted, when the Haske Baptist Church in Manini village, Nigeria, was attacked during a worship service on April 25th. Healthcare worker Zacharia Dogon Yaro was killed, and Shehu Haruna was injured. According to one of the worshippers, "[The attackers] surrounded the church and started shooting.... They shot at us randomly and at anyone they sighted." The Fulani gunmen then seized Charity Musa, Rose Zacharia, Alheri Bala and Liatu Zakka as they left.

This was just one of numerous recent attacks that took place in the predominantly Christian areas of Nigeria. In Kaduna State, Pastor Ozigi Hassan of the Mercy Place Ministry Church was kidnapped, along with his wife Fulaki and their four children, in the early hours of April 30th. Police pursued the captors and were able to recover the pastor and children, but the attackers managed to escape with Fulaki.

On April 21st, heavily armed Fulani gunmen forced their way into a hospital in the town of Idon, which is located in southern Kaduna State. Two Christian nurses, Afiniki Bako and Grace Zugwai Nkut, were taken captive.

While militant Fulani Islamists are frequently the perpetrators of violence experienced in Nigeria, other groups have likewise caused major suffering. In the village of Libera Gida, militants from Boko Haram are suspected of joining Fulani herdsmen in kidnapping 72 village residents on April 22nd and then holding them for ransom.

In the northern Yobe State, members of the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) took control of the town of Geidam on April 23rd. Around 2,000 residents fled to escape the looting and burning. At least two Christians, along with two Muslim schoolteachers, were unable to escape and were killed. According to an eyewitness, leaflets were dropped around town calling for the establishment of an Islamic State. The pamphlets stated, "We are fighting unbelievers; Christians and any other person or group going against the teaching of Islam, even if they are Muslims."

While the government often denies a religious motive behind these attacks, the frequent targeting of churches, as well as Christians, shows that hatred for Christianity plays a key role in numerous acts of violence throughout the region. Further information on the suffering experienced by followers of Christ in Nigeria is available at our country report.

Please remember to pray for the safe return of all our Nigerian brothers and sisters in Christ who have been kidnapped. Until they are freed from captivity, pray for their need of protection and strength. In addition, ask the Lord to minister comfort and hope to their concerned families and friends. May each one sense the wonderful peace that accompanies His reassuring presence. Also prayerfully uphold those who are mourning the loss of loved ones, as well as the survivors of recent attacks who are now needing to recover physically and/or emotionally. Intercede for the perpetrators of the violence, asking the Holy Spirit to convict their hearts and lead them to repentance and salvation in Christ.

Current Ministry Projects

Through a vast variety of projects, VOMC works with in-country partners to encourage and strengthen Nigerian Christians who have experienced extreme forms of persecution. Christian widows receive trauma counselling to help them heal from the aftermath of tragically losing their husbands due to persecution-related attacks. These widows are also provided skills training so they can have a practical means of income to support their families. Children who have lost their parents and other relatives during incidents of persecution are provided a safe place in which to grow and be nurtured. Medical fees are paid for Christians who have suffered serious injuries perpetrated by militants affiliated with Nigeria’s Boko Haram and Fulani groups. Discipleship and vocational training are being offered to Muslim-background believers to help them start their new lives spiritually and practically.

The ministry also gives persecuted Christians who are completing their master's degrees – and have a desire to share the Gospel in their communities – the opportunity to benefit as recipients of the Glenn Penner Scholarship Award. Another one of VOMC’s projects in Nigeria involves the distribution of food aid to persecuted Christians residing within Internal Displacement Persons' (IDP) camps. Through this distribution effort, displaced believers who have been forced to flee their homes and communities because of their faith not only receive daily sustenance but also the encouragement that’s needed to rebuild their lives.

Project Funds: Women’s Ministry, Bibles (Distribution), Medical, Families of Martyrs, Equipping the Saints, Relief & Development

Country Information

Population
219,463,862 (July 2021 est.)

Ethnicity (%)
Hausa (30), Yoruba (15.5), Igbo (15.2), Fulani (6), Tiv (2.4), Kanuri/Beriberi (2.4), Ibibio (1.8), Izaw/Izon (1.8), Other (24.7)

Religion (%)
Islam (53.5), Christianity (45.9), Other (0.6)

Leader
President Muhammadu Buhari (2015)

Government type
Federal presidential republic

Legal system
Mixed legal system of English common law, Islamic law (in 12 northern states), and traditional law

Source: CIA World Factbook

Pray for Nigeria

May God minister great comfort and healing to all who have been injured or bereaved as a result of the militants' brutal attacks. In addition, pray for the remaining abducted Chibok schoolgirls, that they will be assured of the Lord's abiding presence as they await release from captivity. Continue to uphold President Buhari and other members of the Nigerian government as they make further attempts to rescue the remaining girls and provide protection for vulnerable citizens. As they persevere in their endeavours to overcome terrorism, may they be granted wisdom, courage, strength and help from on high.

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Nigeria News

  • Dozens Kidnapped from Two Church Services
    A church service in Nigeria
    A Nigerian church service.
    Photo: Flickr / SIM USA (cc)

    Suspected Fulani herdsmen stormed a church in Suleja, Niger State, in the early morning of September 17th. Several of the church members who had gathered for an all-night prayer vigil were kidnapped, along with the pastor.