Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Open Doors: Prayer needed for Muslim-background believers in Nigeria

Few Christians in the West consider the country of Nigeria a Muslim nation. Yet half of its citizens are Islamic… and there is a growing minority of radical Muslims who are violently targeting Christians in this African nation.

Elder Saidu Dogo, the secretary of the northern Nigeria chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), recently told Compass Direct that Muslim leaders are encouraging their followers to “take over Nigeria by going to war against Christians.” And as a result, many believers in this nation are being threatened, abducted, or murdered.

Left for Dead

Henry Ogbaje, a 24-year-old Christian, was on his way home in Kaduna, Nigeria, on Friday, October 12, when a group of radical Muslims attacked him and beat him unconscious with wooden clubs.

Believing they had killed him, his assailants left him for dead… and Henry lay in a pool of his own blood until he regained consciousness three hours later.

A passerby eventually helped Henry get home, and his family members immediately took him to the hospital. A doctor treated him that night, and told Henry’s family to bring him back to the hospital in three days’ time. On Sunday night, however, Henry’s family rushed him back to the hospital… and by 8:00 p.m., Henry died.

“Henry was a peace-loving person,” remembers his father, Sgt. Emmanuel Ogbaje. “He was not a troublemaker.” This is why Henry’s death is so horribly shocking to those who knew and loved him.

Henry Ogbaje’s murder took place as Muslims were celebrating the Eid-El-Fatr festival, which marks the end of Ramadan. Another man identified only as Basil was also killed in Kaduna during this same time.

Noting that other Muslim leaders also preached attacks against Christians during Ramadan,Elder Dogo is pleading for the Nigerian government to protect Christians. He is asking they act quickly to forestall what he and other Christian leaders say is a systematic effort to wipe Christianity out of northern Nigeria.

“We are alarmed over these types of killings and plead that the government seriously do something about these security breaches,” he said. The Rev. Joshua Magaji, assistant secretary of the Kaduna state chapter of CAN, said the killings were meant to provoke Christians into angry retaliations and trigger another religious crisis in the state. Tens of thousands of deaths have been the result of religious violence in the past three decades and violence has broken out several times since the imposition of sharia (Islamic) law in 2000.

“We thank God that Christians in the state have restrained themselves from avenging the killing of these two, and we would like to appeal that they continue in this spirit,” Magaji said.

Need for Prayer Crucial

Please be in prayer for the families of those who have lost loved ones at the hands of radical extremists. And please pray for the safety and perseverance of the millions of Christians and Muslim-background believers living in Nigeria as thousands of believers are being threatened or attacked because of their faith in Jesus Christ!

Thank you for your enduring support and compassion for our brothers and sisters who are paying such a high price for their faith. May God bless you for battling with them through your gifts and prayers in the coming days!

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