Many times, Christian persecution comes in waves. In places like Nigeria, Christians are constant targets of multiple Islamic extremist groups, specifically an extremist group that is located primarily in Northern Nigeria and in the last few years The Fulani are a large ethnic group in West Africa. A third of all Fulani people are pastoralists, making them the largest nomadic community in the world. militant herdsmen. Wherever they go, persecution follows for often internally displaced believers.
This is the case for 100 Christian families who have now been targeted and attacked repeatedly, first by an extremist group that is located primarily in Northern Nigeria three years ago in the city of Maiduguri. At that time, the families fled the city to a camp for internally displaced people in Nasarawa State. For the past three years since the brutal attack, these families had managed to start life over again as they built homes and churches.
But persecution again followed them. In January 2018, The Fulani are a large ethnic group in West Africa. A third of all Fulani people are pastoralists, making them the largest nomadic community in the world. militants raided their village, destroying homes and 13 churches—even the church’s musical instruments.
Once again, they fled.
This time, they set up a makeshift camp in Abaji, Abuja, about six miles from the major road. Life in this new location has numerous challenges. Sometimes, it feels as if God has forgotten about them. Once again, each family has literally started from nothing. All of their belongings were stolen in the attack. Each day, the adults and youth old enough to work walk the six miles to and from town to do menial jobs with little pay. The money they receive is used to buy food for their families.
About 50 of the families have taken refuge in a local church there. The church had only seven mattresses, given to women and children. Each night for the last eight months, the men have slept on wooden benches in.
This is where Open Doors teams found these families. We made an initial visit to encourage and pray with them, delivering cash support for food.
‘God Has Provided Today’
Recently, Open Doors teams returned a second time with more help, bringing 100 families a relief package filled with a bag of maize, 55-pound bags each of rice and beans and cash for rent and children’s school fees. Pastors among them received study books to help them in their ministry.
Pastor Gwatana offered his gratitude to the Open Doors community to be used by God to encourage persecuted believers. He is housing and feeding many of the refugee families.
“God sent you at such a time as this to bring relief to me and my dependents,” he said. “I pray for God’s unending blessings on everyone who gave out resources to assist us. Remain blessed.”
Pastor Moses’ home and everything in it was burned to the ground. He is “most especially” thankful for the books he received.
“Now I can study my books to prepare for sermons. I have been thinking and praying for God’s intervention, and at His appointed time he sent Open Doors to us. May the Lord bless you abundantly!”
Another church leader, Pastor Yohanna, reminds us of Jesus’ mandate to care for His people.
“When Jesus asked Simon, ‘Do you love me?’ and Simon said, ‘Yes, Lord, I love you,’ Jesus gave him this command: ‘Feed my sheep.’ You have demonstrated your genuine love for Christ by feeding us. Your labor for Christ will never be in vain.”
Mercy Daniel, a 15-year-old teenager, also displaced by the attacks, shares what life has been like since January and how the support you’ve provided will make a difference in her family’s lives. Her words remind us that many times poverty also brings a loss of dignity.
“Thank you believers all over the world for assisting my poor widowed mother. There was no money to take us to school, no food to eat and no house to stay in … Each day we wake up, we have to go and do work to get money to have food to eat. But today, we will be able to eat good food without having to beg from people around us. Thank you also for the picture Bible. It will [help] me understand the stories more.”
Lami Umru, a widow, reminds us that one of the best ways to love a mother is to love her children.
“You not only put food on my table, but you have assisted my children with money for their school fees. I don’t know how best to say thank you. I have been sleeping with my children on the floor in this church because I don’t have money for rent. God has provided today more than enough for me. May God bless and keep you from any harm.”
A smiling Azumi Isah, also young widow, stretched her hands to the sky.
“Thank you for making me believe that angels exist and that God indeed is the husband to the widow and the father to the orphan. No wonder He said, ‘Never will I leave you nor forsake you.’”
Each time you support the persecuted Church, you give believers the encouragement and sustenance to be the Church in places like Nigeria. Christians like Pastors Gwatana, Moses and Yohanna, and widows like Lami and Azumi, as well as youth like Mercy, who are all building the church wherever they go—in the face of trials, adversity and repeated attacks.
You give them the powerful reassurance of Jesus’ promise to never leave or forsake us.
Praying with the Displaced Church in Nigeria
Continue to pray with these families, the church that has offered them refuge and the church of Nigeria for God’s continued provision. Pray for peace in this country that has seen so much bloodshed. And pray that believers will remain firm in the faith knowing the global Church hears their cries and is acting faithfully with compassion.