Combating terror with the cross

Gary Fallesen

Combating terror with the cross

A Nigerian newspaper story reporting on massacre in Jos.

Jos, Nigeria used to be a peaceful place. On March 8, 2010, 416 victims of violence received a mass burial in three different graves.

On another occasion, a pastor was abducted from his house by Islamic fanatics and taken to an unknown destination. Later his corpse was discovered.

There are many other cases of violence. I solicit your prayers for an end to this senselessness.

I am from Nigeria, a West African country with a population of about 150 million spread across 250 ethnic groups and two major religions — Islam and Christianity.

Christianity has the largest number of worshippers in the South, while Islam takes the lead in the North. Many Christians in the North face persecution, even death.

From time to time, Muslims in the North invade churches and Christian homes, raze them, and maim and kill many people in cold blood. This makes Christians in this region more ardent in the things of God, as no one knows when he or she will meet his or her untimely death. However, Christians have remained calm and peaceful amid the hostility and brutality, trusting in the Lord.

The introduction of Sharia law in the North in 2000 heightened the level of violence in this region. Several groups sprung up among the Muslims, including Boko Haram (meaning western education is useless), who vent their hostility on Christians. This Islamic sect killed a dozen Christians, including three pastors, and burned 20 churches in riots in July 2009.

In the South, particularly the Niger Delta region, militants rose demanding their rights from the federal government. Heavily armed, the militants demonstrated their anger by abducting expatriates and top management staff working in oil-producing firms. They held them captive for ransom and even killed some. Several innocent souls have lost their lives via stray bullets, especially during shootouts between the Joint Task Force and the militants.

The region has experienced peace since amnesty was offered to “repented militants” by the late president, Umaru Yar’Adua. They have, however, threatened to commence violence if allowances owed them by the federal government were not paid.

The challenges we are facing as Christians in Nigeria are predominantly the nonchalant attitude of some Christians in their service to God. We need to pray against plans to Islamify Nigeria through bloody attacks on Christians, especially those in the North. Let's also pray for genuine Gospel ministers to stay true to their calling, trusting that God will never fail them. Let's also pray for a revival fire to sweep across the 36 states of Nigeria.

Pastor Chris handing out tracts to children in the streets.

I am the presiding steward of Lives Aglow Global Outreach Center (aka Wonderland Chapel), the president of Singles and Young Couples International Fellowship, and the director of Lives Aglow Theological Seminary and Graduate School. I am an apostle and missionary from the Northern part of Nigeria, but currently based in the South in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.

Because there is high level of complacency here our outreach, which is an apostolic reformation movement, is intended to spread revival fire to the nooks and crannies of Nigeria with an emphasis on Muslim-dominated areas. We hope to raise up disciples who will go on crusades in the North, win souls, and hand them over to living churches in those areas. Where there is none, Lives Aglow Global Outreach will establish Wonderland chapels. This will re-ignite a fire among Nigerians for the things of God.

Chris Joseph, a member of Climbing For Christ since April 2009, is a husband, father of four, and pastor. Climbing For Christ is helping Pastor Joseph establish the church and deliver the Good News among the majority Muslim population.

Nigeria at a glance

Location: Western Africa, bordering the Gulf of Guinea, between Benin and Cameroon. Area: 923,768 square kilometers (slightly more than twice the size of California). The country is divided into 36 states with 12 northern states imposing Islamic law in the past nine years. Terrain: Southern lowlands merge into central hills and plateaus, mountains in southeast, plains in north. Highest point: Chappal Waddi (2,419 meters/7,936 feet), located in Taraba State on the border of Cameroon.

Population: 152,217,341 (Africa’s most populous country; No. 8 in the world). Life expectancy: 47.24 years. Ethnic: The most populous and politically influential people groups are Hausa and Fulani (29 percent), Yoruba (21 percent), Igbo or Ibo (18 percent), Ijaw (10 percent), Kanuri (4 percent), Ibibio 3.5 (percent), and Tiv 2.5 (percent).

Religion: Fifty percent Muslim, 40 percent Christian, and 10 percent indigenous beliefs. Northern Nigeria ranked 27th among the 50 places facing the worst persecution, according to the 2010 World Watch List compiled by Open Doors.

Leader: President Umaru Yar’Adua died on May 5, 2010, at the age of 58. Goodluck Jonathan, 52, who had been serving as vice president, succeeded him the following day. Nigerians were saddened by the death of Yar’Adua, who was considered by many of his people to be “a visionary leader” who was “on his path to move Nigeria to greater heights.”

A typical rural Nigerian home.

Nigeria is an oil-rich nation, but 70 percent of the population lives below the nation’s poverty line (less than US$1 per day). The country Nigeria ranks 177th out of 227 in the world for average annual income. “Strategic evangelism becomes the fastest means of depopulating hell and thickly populating heaven,” Pastor Chris Joseph said, noting that his ministry will partner with medical personnel to provide free health services to people in rural areas. “This kind of service leaves a lasting impression on peoples' minds and it also makes them to be more receptive to the Gospel,” Chris said.

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