Nigeria: Believers Gunned Down "while their eyes were closed in prayer"
January 18, 2012
By Rae Burnett
Africa Director Christian Aid Mission
First-hand report of a native missionary ministry leader supported by Christian Aid.
"Thank God for His grace and mercy. Today, we buried Jacob Eloiyi, one of our ministry supporters who was killed by Islamic terrorists. The funeral was highly attended by believers, and we prayed for the peace of our city and Nigeria. Continue to pray with us as we trust the Lord that all will be well. It seems we are more peaceful for now even though three people were shot yesterday in a beer parlor."
I received this message on 16 January from an indigenous missionary ministry leader supported by Christian Aid. He had called me late at night on 6 January to ask for prayer. He and his family were behind locked doors with others from the ministry, keeping vigil so they would not be slaughtered in their sleep.
"We could never have imagined what would happen next when those two buses drove into town filled with Boko Haram Muslim fanatics. Authorities did nothing, and the next day, two of their young men on a motor cycle sped toward the Christ Apostolic church, raised their AK47’s, and coldly and brazenly opened fire on believers gathered for prayer. Twelve people were killed, openly gunned down in daylight, while their eyes were closed in prayer. Twelve died, including three Christian brothers who support our missionary work. Anyone could be a target as it is now. We have no weapon but prayer, and we want you to join with us as the Lord and His kingdom are attacked."
At funeral: Jacob's family kneels as native missionary ministry leader and attendees pray for them.
Those murdered comprise only a small percentage of the total number that have been massacred in ruthless attacks by Boko Haram, an Islamic terrorist group intent on driving Nigeria’s Christians from the nation’s Muslim-dominated northern regions and imposing Shariah law throughout the nation.
After the church attack, still thirsty for blood, the killers went to a beauty salon, opened fire, and murdered four more. When several dozen Christians gathered together to mourn the loss of fellow believers murdered the previous day, Boko Haram members surrounded the crowd and began shooting, killing more than 20 people and leaving others severely wounded.
The attacks intensified throughout the Christmas season, leaving more than 50 people dead in a wave of bombings, mostly outside church buildings as services were ending.
Though Boko Haram admits to targeting Christians, even Muslims are not exempt from their attacks. The feared group has bombed schools, universities, banks, and bars. Even mosques. Soldiers and police officers are targeted and killed.
The militant extremists suicide-bombed UN headquarters, killing 23 in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital city. Immediately after, a plot to bomb the US Embassy there was discovered and stopped.
Apart from declaring a state of emergency in several regions, Nigerian officials, either unable or unwilling to act, have left the people to defend themselves. It is well known that some high level official in the military, and even the governor of one state, are actually helping the group. See Mastermind of Madalla Christmas Day Bombing Arrested in Borno State Govt Lodge Abuja - Naija Pundit. Many fear a civil war will ensue.
In the face of the escalation of violence, some nominal Christians are threatening a bloody “eye for an eye” retaliation if the government continues to do nothing.
“Pray for our missionaries serving in the Muslim north,” the leader writes. “More than 40 Christians in the region have been killed in a single week by the Islamic militants.”
For years, his indigenous ministry has been working tirelessly to take the gospel to Nigeria's unreached Islamic northern states which are dominated by the Muslim Hausa and Fulani tribes. Despite the extreme difficulties involved in reaching Muslims with the gospel, the ministry has made incredible inroads into several Islamic communities.
The incessant terrorist attacks have forced the ministry leader to delay the opening of his school of missions. As his ministry headquarters is located in an Islamic area now targeted by Boko Haram, Christian Aid is praying with him for the means to move the headquarters to a safer area. No missionaries plan to leave their fields in spite of the danger, but the ministry base should be in a centralized and neutral place in order to properly function. He writes, “We only need your prayers and continued support for our missionaries in the Islamic north. Doors are opening, and we are also reaping some fruit as many nominal Muslims who hate this terrorism are coming to know the Lord.”
Christian Aid has enabled the ministry to purchase land. Now $50,000 is needed for housing three families and an office. See below to give to enable this native Nigerian ministry to move its headquarters out of a Boko Haram target zone.
In addition to the fear inflicted upon the nation by the terrorists, high fuel prices have brought the country to a standstill. Nigeria is Africa’s largest producer of oil and has long provided it at low cost for its people. The government’s recent decision to remove fuel subsidies has caused gas prices to more than double and precipitated nationwide strikes. The ministry leader reports that the cost of transportation, food, and other necessities has risen by more than 50 percent, causing great burdens on the work of the Lord through increased costs for everything.