You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbour and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…” Matthew 5:43-44
Nigeria is divided religiously along the tenth parallel. On the north side, Muslims are in the majority. On the south side, Christians are in the majority. Along the border between these two groups, much blood has been spilt repeatedly in recent years.
One pastor says, “We are facing persecution from our neighbours, the Muslims. They don’t want to see the gospel progressing…and they feel envious that we have more church buildings…and our businesses are expanding as well.”
Another pastor adds, “They see that they must stop the expansion of Christianity into the north, and that has to be done physically.”
A bishop of one church denomination is weary from the many attacks. He is quoted as saying, “We have turned the other cheek so many times, we have no more cheeks to turn!”
One violent incident took place in Tudun Wada. It began when a young student was accused of drawing a picture of Islam’s prophet Mohammed. Suddenly, the matter was taken seriously. They started burning churches and rioting with all kinds of weapons.
Nineteen Christians were killed that day, leaving behind mourning widows, family members and friends. Ten churches were burned. Thirty-six homes and one hundred forty-seven shops belonging to Christians were destroyed. But God gave spiritual courage to His followers on that terrible day. And they refused to run.
Looking back on the situation, a pastor in the area says, “The churches that were destroyed… in fact, there is none that has been rebuilt that is not bigger than what it was before. And the attendance by members has grown astronomically.”
2. For the Nigerian church to stand firm despite persecution.
3. Thank God for the growth of the church in Nigeria. Pray for a pure church that will seek Christ and Christ alone.