Friday, June 14, 2013

Large Scale Persecution In Nigeria

Obed Minchakpu: Persecution: The Experience of Borno Christians

Daily Post
Nigeria Online Newspaper

“For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your Father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?” -The Bible, Esther 4:14

The news about his death did not come to me as a surprise. He had told me in the year 2007 in Maiduguri, the Borno State capital, that his life was under threat but that he cannot run away from the city because he believes God has called him to preach the Gospel to his people.

You may ask, ‘Who is this man of courage who looked death in the face and called off its bluff?’ He is no other person than The Rev. Faye Pama Musa, the Borno State Secretary of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN).

I was in Borno State on a research trip in that year and met Rev. Faye Pama Musa. We became friends and I had the privilege of visiting his church in Wulari area of the city and also visited his house in the GRA where I met his family. In the period I was in Maiduguri we discussed extensively about the state of the Church in Borno State.

In the course of our discussion Rev. Musa shared with me the difficulties they faced in doing Christian ministry in a hostile environment where Christians are persecuted in all spheres of human endeavor. To be a Christian in Borno State, he said, “Is deciding to become a second class citizen as even citizens from other Muslim countries enjoy better privileges than those of us who are Indigenous Christians from this state,” he told me.

Disturbed about this disclosure, I decided to carry out in-depth research on this issue. Facts I uncovered at the end of my study tour of the state revealed even more disturbing phenomenon. One of the issues I uncovered was the forceful conversion of many Christians in the state to Islam. Secondly, many indigenous persons of the Kanuri ethnic group who made decision to become Christians were forced to go underground because of persecution.

In fact, I visited one of the underground churches in the city of Maidiguri and met with some of these Kanuri Christians who have been forced out of Borno State because of persecution to live in other parts of Nigeria but only sneak into the city of Maiduguri time to time to fellowship together and pray for their people, the Kanuris, and then sneak out of the state again.

I left Maiduguri with a heavy heart, burdened with the plight of Christians in Borno State. Since then, I kept constantly in touch with the Rev. Faye Pama Musa, always asking after his welfare and other Christian Brethren over there. Each time I heard about the murder of any Christian in that state or attacks on Christian communities, I would always phone him to be sure he was still alive.

Then suddenly, thirty minutes after the declaration of the state of emergency by Nigeria’s President, Goodluck Jonathan, The Rev. Faye Pama Musa was gunned down by Islamic Terrorists, Boko Haram members, who trailed him from his church to his house and murdered him in cold blood, and in the presence of his wife and children. His crime? His faith in our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ and Preaching the Gospel to lost souls in Borno State.

The blood shed by Musa and other Christian brethren in Borno State has raised a lot of questions as regards the responsibilities of Christian political leaders in Nigeria to their Christian Brethren. Why is it that Christian political leaders have not been able to raise their voices in condemnation of these despicable acts against the Church and Christians in northern Nigeria?

One is forced to raise this question because of the deliberate silence that has characterized our political landscape even as thousands of Christians in the northern part of the country are being killed on a daily basis by Islamic militants of the Boko Haram sect and Muslim Fulani Herdsmen.

One noticeable thing is that while the leadership of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has become the lone voice in the wilderness, crying out over the persecution of Christians in northern Nigeria, Christian political leaders seem to be more interested in struggling for political positions that would enable them acquire ill-gotten wealth for themselves to the detriment of the religious liberty of their Christian Brethren.

While the likes of senators Bukar Ibrahim and Ali Ndume, and representative Aminu Tambuwal, etc are busy promoting the cause of Boko Haram in Nigeria’s parliament, the National Assembly, our Christian political leaders in both chambers are busy doing some mathematical permutations on alignment and re-alignment of political forces in order to strategically place themselves in political positions come 2015. All in an effort to corruptly enrich themselves to the detriment of the religious freedom of their Christian brethren.

The time has therefore come, for us to call the attention of these Christian political leaders to a prophetic warning issued to Hadasah, Queen Esther, by her uncle, Mordeccai, when he told her:

“For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your Father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?” -The Bible, Esther 4:14

This prophetic message is today very relevant to our political clime, as just as Haman schemed to exterminate the Jews who were in exile in Persia, so also, militant Muslims seeking to establish an Islamic State in northern Nigeria are waging a war to exterminate Christian minorities. Yet, our political leaders appear hapless as the onslaught against the church and Christians continues unabated.

Whatever it is, as Christians we must turn our focus to God at this time just like the Jews in Persia did. They followed the instruction of Esther and fasted and prayed to God pleading for deliverance. The time has come too, for us to turn our faces to God and asking for His intervention in this situation we have now found ourselves in northern Nigeria.

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