While violent persecution inflicted by Boko Haram and Muslim Fulani herdsmen has made international headlines, the persistent social pressure on Christians in northern Nigeria – particularly areas under Sharia (Islamic law) – often goes largely unnoticed. But its affects have been devastating.
In the remote farming community of Danbango, in the Yauri district of Kebbi, Christians face blatant discrimination and persistent pressure to convert to Islam. Under Sharia government, their faith in Jesus has cost Christians their livelihoods, and even their lives.
Here’s three ways Christians are facing increasing pressure:
“When my son became very sick, I took him to hospital, but the doctors said they would treat him only if I denounced Christ,” shares a woman from Danbango. “I refused and took him home. Some days later he died.
“I blamed myself for causing his death but later remembered that the scriptures say he is not dead but asleep. We will meet again at the Lord’s feet one day and that comforts me.”
“I have been arrested many times (on false accusations) and have been imprisoned three times,” says local church leader, Pastor Kabiru. “It is all just an effort to frustrate evangelism.”
Last year, the pressure on Christians escalated when a number of church members from a nearby church were taken to court.
The church’s pastor, Joshua, explains: “The district head of Yauri accompanied by a Muslim vigilante group came to our church and disrupted the worship service. They beat us and claimed that the land our church was built on wasn’t approved by the government. But it belongs to one of our church members who gave it to us to build a place for our services.”
Nearby, a local mosque did not face demolition despite also not having building approval.
“We were arrested and taken to prison where we were beaten again and given hard labour,” says Joshua. “We had no opportunity to contact a lawyer, and some officials told us if we pleaded guilty we would be set free. We didn’t have anyone to speak to or anyone who could stand for us, so we agreed.”
Last year, the Kebbi government confiscated 32 farms from Christians in the state. Forty-five Christian families had been making a living from them for generations.
“We were shocked to see that many believers had run out of food,” says an Open Doors worker, who visited the believers with local partners.
“Thanks to the faithful support of Christians around the world we were able to return with some relief aid to assist at least the most desperate families for a few months. Thirty-two families each received a bag of guinea corn, some spaghetti, three wrappers and money to cover other household needs.”
Source: Open Doors
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