In Borno and Adamawa states in Northern Nigeria, 185 churches have been torched and 190,000 people displaced following Boko Haram attacks, according to Reverend Gideon Obasogie, the director of Catholic Social Communication of Maiduguri Diocese in Borno State. He described the situation as “sad, heart-aching and potentially dangerous to the territorial integrity and common good of Nigeria.”
“It is over 30 days now that our church communities in Gulak, Shuwa, Michika, Bazza were ransacked by the callous attacks of the Boko Haram terrorists,” his statement said.
“Life is really terribly difficult…We have been sleeping in uncompleted buildings, camps and school premises.”
Reverend Gideon Obasogie isn’t the only one facing a tough time whilst trying to lead a church in these regions. Many other pastors are putting their lives on the line by staying. Here’s some of the daily challenges they are facing:
Thousands have been killed by Boko Haram since their insurgence began in 2009. Rev. Samuel Dali, President of the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria, has said, “Dozens of our churches have already been completely razed down and many pastors killed… If the situation does not stop, there is a real danger of eliminating churches in north-eastern Nigeria.”
Many pastors are providing for victims of attack physically as well as spiritually. “On one particular day following an attack on a village, 56 people came to my house, looking into my eyes for help. As a spiritual father, I prayed with them and then fed them for the next three days with the food I had left in my house. I had nothing left to feed them or my family, but the people kept coming,” shared Rev. Posat.
In Yobe state, where the battle against Boko Haram is particularly fierce, a church that once had 600 members now has just 50. It can be hard for these small congregations to function, and they often close.
In Yobe state and Borno state, numbers of pastors have been drastically reduced; some were killed, some were abducted, and others were forced to give up and close their churches as their members left the area. But incredibly, many are choosing to stay and serve their broken communities. They know that without anyone to lead it, the church in northern Nigeria could die. “We shall remain here to uphold the flag of the Gospel in the presence of our persecutors,” says one pastor, Peter Wakawa.
We support people who are beaten, tortured,
imprisoned, falsely accused, and hated simply for following Jesus.