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Gary Fallesen

Project Prayer: Ramadan 2016 - Day 8

Day 8: Entering rooms in the House of Islam — Nigeria

By Gary Fallesen, founding president, Climbing For Christ

He was forced to appear before the District Head of Koma, a Muslim leader in northeastern Nigeria. Pastor Chris Joseph had no idea what awaited.

“On reaching the Muslim monarch’s palace, I saw stern-looking people entering his palace with their shoes or sandals removed for half a kilometer,” Chris recalled in a report on recent Climbing For Christ ministry. “I also removed my shoes and entered his palace.

“We all sat on the carpet in his palace with our legs folded. It was only the monarch that sat on one of the numerous seats with slippers on his feet in his palace. It was somewhat intimidating, but I remained courageous. After formal introductions, questions were thrown to me, but God gave me the wisdom to answer them.

“The District Head told me that he has sole authority over the land in Koma and that whatever business I transacted with the late village head was illegal.”

Chris Joseph, a Climbing For Christ member since 2009 and a ministry partner since 2010, was in Adamawa State working on our Koma borehole well project. SEE Water for the Koma Hills.

Preparing a borehole well to provide water —and, we hope, Living Water — for people in the Koma Hills. (Photo provided by Chris Joseph)

Ramadan began last week when the Sultan Alhaji Sa’ad Abubakar III, who is the leader of Muslims in Nigeria, confirmed that the moon had been sighted on Sunday, June 5. Prayer and fasting for Ramadan commenced the following morning.

Nigeria, a West Africa nation of nearly 182 million (the largest population on the continent), is 50.5 percent Christian and 43.4 percent Muslim.

“It's tough [living] with Muslims and Muslim extremists,” said Chris, who has taught in the church about the deceptions of Islam. “I would liken the situation to gentility versus hostility, peace versus violence, and love versus hatred.”

The primary culprit of the latter is the Islamic extremist group Boko Haram.

“Nigeria’s Boko Haram has gained the most press attention in recent years,” David Garrison wrote in A Wind in the House of Islam. “Boko Haram or ‘Western Education is Forbidden’ is the Hausa shorthand name for the ‘Congregation and People Committed to the Propagation of the Prophet’s Teaching and Jihad.’ Boko Haram was formed in 2001 by Mohammed Yusuf as a militant movement aimed at implementing sharia law and combatting Westernization. Yusuf was arrested and killed by Nigerian police in 2009, but over the next three years Boko Haram militants went on to kill more than 1,600 persons. They targeted Christian churches, school children and moderate Muslims who cooperated with the government.”

More than 1,000 churches have been burned in Nigeria since 2009, when Boko Haram became increasingly violent. “Tragically, some of the churches were burned while Christians were trapped inside,” The Voice of the Martyrs reported. “Boko Haram pledged allegiance to ISIS in March 2015.”

The goal of Boko Haram is to create an Islamic nation in the northern half of Nigeria where Sharia law would be followed, and every man, woman and child would be a Sunni Muslim. Currently, Sharia (or Islamic law) has been adopted as a main body of civil and criminal law in nine Muslim-majority states and parts of three Muslim-plurality states. Adamawa is not one of those states.

But Boko Haram does not just target Christians and the church. On the eve of Ramadan, Nigerian Defense said it uncovered plots to bomb locations that usually attract large gatherings during the fast. In 2015, these extremists gunned down nearly 100 Muslims praying in mosques in the northeast. Boko Haram often “defiles” mosques where “it believes clerics espouse too moderate a form of Islam,” CBS News reported in July 2015.

Nigeria is ranked as the 12th-worst nation in which to be a Christian on the Open Doors 2016 World Watch List

Pray that Christians, especially in the north, will continue to gather no matter the risk. Lift our brothers and sisters so that, regardless of the danger, they will maintain their witness to Christ’s love. May they reach out to the radical Muslims who persecute them.

“But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you!” — Matthew 5:44 (NLT)

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