Christmas is often a tough time to be a Christian in many parts of the world. In places where Christians are persecuted, celebrating Jesus’ birth can be dangerous – plus many extremist groups use major Christian celebrations as a time to target Christians. This is just what happened over the last few weeks in Nigeria.
On Christmas Day, ISWAP (a faction of the Islamic extremist group Boko Haram) murdered 11 men they had captured earlier in the year. ISWAP gave two reasons for the executions: revenge for the murders of their leaders in Syria, and a prisoner-swap between themselves and the government that fell through (their captives in exchange for imprisoned members of Boko Haram). ISWAP have claimed that all 11 victims were Christians, but this is disputed by a journalist close to the development who believes that there were some Muslims among the men who died. Christians are particularly vulnerable to abduction in northern Nigeria, which is also the country where the most Christians are killed each year. In 2018, over 4,300 Christians were killed for their faith.
Then, on Friday 3 January, the Adamawa state chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria, Reverend Lawan Andimi, was kidnapped by Boko Haram during a raid. The extremist group released a video of Reverend Lawan calling on the authorities to secure his release. He also told his colleagues and family not to sorrow for him, since God’s will must be respected. His courage is incredible.
Rev. Lawan Andimi, in a still from a video released by Boko Haram
Please pray with our brothers and sisters in Nigeria. The Lord knows what they need and is present at all times by His Spirit. Please pray that He will comfort and draw near to all those grieving, and especially for Reverend Lawan, that God would keep him safe and that he would be released soon. Ask for comfort for those that have lost loved ones and for those who have suffered immense trauma. Ask for peace and end to violence.
We support people who are beaten, tortured,
imprisoned, falsely accused, and hated simply for following Jesus.