Among the more than 2 million people who have fled Islamic extremist violence in northern Nigeria are hundreds of Christians who have been denied resettlement help because of their faith, aid workers said.
Displaced Muslims have received government-built homes, new land and financial support for resettlement, but 347 Christians in urgent need have been denied help because of their faith, the leader of a Christian organization based in Nigeria said.
“We cannot watch them die while others unwillingly turn to Islam to get support while we look on,” the leader said. “We want to start something, no matter how small.”
The organization, whose name is withheld for security reasons, is willing to provide the Christians, many of them new converts, free land on its properties but needs assistance to build small homes.
“We want to boldly help these people,” the leader said. “A family will need not less than $3,000 to get a home, not with thatched roofs this time, but with metal roof sheeting. We also will build homes ourselves and donate to them individually to ensure quality help, and then empower them to start a new life.”
In two states in the northeast, some Christian converts from Islam were denied entry into camps for the displaced, he said.
“So many of them are left to die on their own, as no food or shelter is made available to them,” the leader said. “We had tried within our little resources to help these ones, but the rejected people without external help to survive are too many.”
Attacks by Boko Haram, which seeks to impose sharia (Islamic law) throughout Nigeria, and by its offshoot, the Islamic State in West Africa Province (ISWAP), have displaced more than 2.3 million people within Nigeria and driven nearly 600,000 to the neighboring countries of Cameroon, Chad and Niger, according to the United Nations. While the Nigerian military has regained control of most parts of the northeast, civilians continue to suffer isolated gun, machete and bomb attacks.
Suspected Boko Haram terrorists in December killed a woman and her bridal party in northeast Nigeria days before her planned New Year’s Eve wedding, and eight other Christians were killed in separate attacks, according to Morning Star News. Martha Bulus and her two bridesmaids were stopped on Dec. 26 as they made their way from Gwoza, Borno state to Bulus’ hometown in Adamawa state for her wedding.
They were ordered from their vehicle, identified as Christians and then beheaded, church leaders said. Eight other Christians were killed in the same area on the same day, one church leader said.
Kidnappings have also terrorized residents. On Jan. 20, the Rev. Lawan Andimi, district chairman of the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria (EYN) in Michika County in Adamawa state and a father of eight, was executed after being kidnapped by Boko Haram, Morning Star News reported.
“Our people should not die because they become Christians in their country,” the ministry leader said. “We cannot live together with the dying people and a hungry society and watch them die for whatever reason. We must do our best to let them know that in spite of persecution, the Lord has His people elsewhere who can help.”
Discrimination and Oppression
Fulani herdsmen and other Muslim extremists also terrorize Christians. In one undisclosed area in northern Nigeria, a local chieftan forced a church member’s daughter to marry a Muslim, the leader said.
“They forced her to marry a man and forced her to Islamize,” he said. “All efforts by believers did not work. The courts kept insisting that the girl married willingly. We want to relocate these folks away.”
The organization is negotiating with Christians in another state to buy land for homes and farming in order to resettle displaced Christians, but it needs assistance for the $14,000 property.
“This land will serve as a place for them to build, farm and do other things and even settle future people there,” he said. “We have been praying for this and you can be a partner in healing the trauma of a people whose home and place of birth is being denied.”
Christian youths also face discrimination. In one northeastern state, 17 Christian students were denied admission to public universities because of their faith, he said.
“These kids cannot afford to go to private universities, which cost 500 percent more than government universities,” the leader said. “We cannot sit here and watch these children rot away because of these injustices. Young people will be Islamized for the cause of education; these Muslims use resources ferried to them from the Arab world to manipulate our poor people. We challenge believers globally to do their part.”
Seven families in another northern state have lost their homes and land for putting their faith in Christ, and the aid organization has relocated them to another state where no one knows they are converts from Islam, he said.
“We cannot watch these homeless folks,” he said. “Help us to help these people own their home where they are now and let them have peace. They depend on the liberal support of God’s people to be restored to normalcy. You can help in rebuilding a broken life.”
Please consider a donation today to enable workers to provide aid and resettlement to oppressed Christians and others.