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News / Thoughts

Nigeria: Aid for 3,000 families

By Dan Etheridge

The violence in North Eastern Nigeria has affected millions. Boko Haram, an Islamic Extremist group carry out deadly raids across the region, aiming to undermine the government and set-up their own so-called caliphate. As well as bombings and deadly raids, they are the group that kidnapped the Chibok schoolgirls. The situation is bleak. Many have fled to safer regions, and since October, Open Doors has been providing lifesaving food aid for 3,000 families – approximately 15,000 people – some of whom were resorting to eating leaves in order to survive.

“We had to flee Boko Haram because they didn’t allow us to go to our farm,” said Mary Charles, one of those who received aid. “We had no drinking water and we didn’t have anything to eat. But I take courage from the Bible. It is written that there is a time when we will suffer, but that the suffering will end by the grace of God. We have to endure.

“I thank God for this food aid and I thank the people who brought it. We now have food that we can give to our children. We didn’t have anything to give them.”

Jack van Tol, Open Doors Director for West Africa, said, “We’re very grateful to be able to assist families who were suffering so much. Reports reached us through our church networks that many Christians were in dire need of food aid. Many had resorted to eating leaves. There seems to be general shortage of food aid in the northeast, and Christians testified they were discriminated against in general camps. Through the churches we were able to assist them.”

Fleeing from Boko Haram

Many of the families supported by Open Doors are from Gwoza, the city declared by Boko Haram as the capital of their ‘caliphate’ in 2014. Bishop William Naga, leader of the Borno chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), said, “Christians in Borno State are traumatised, displaced and truly they have lost hope. In the Gwoza area there is no single church standing. In the eastern part of Gwoza Christians were a majority. And even inside Gwoza town and in its surroundings there were many Christians. Now there are no Christians left in that area.”

While many areas have been retaken by the Nigerian army, the situation is still unstable. “Only the bigger towns are fully under the control of the Nigerian army,” Bishop Naga says. “The outskirts of these towns and villages in the state are not safe. Boko Haram is still in control of big parts of the Borno State. We cannot go back there now.”

Here are some ways you can support our Nigerian brothers and sisters:
Pray. Bishop Naga says, “Christians all over the world, we yearn for their prayers. One, we want them to pray for God to give us hearts to forgive and to love our Muslim brothers.

“Secondly, we want them to pray for us Christians to seek the face of God to ask for strength to start our lives afresh.

“Thirdly, let our brothers continue to pray for us that we will not give up our faith, but that we will continue in our faith dynamically, strongly, vibrant and bold. Most of our places everything has been looted, churches have been burned down. Our livelihood has been taken away from us. But there is one thing that has been not taken away: our faith in Christ Jesus has not been taken away from us.”

Speak out. Invite your MP to the launch of the 2017 World Watch List in January.

The Author
Dan works part time with Open Doors, mainly sorting out the comms stuff for youth and students. In his other life he's a freelance writer and graphic designer who likes collecting records and sitting on beaches looking at waves.

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