Call for prayer for Nigeria’s Christians

Originally published in Christian Today

Churches, police stations and government buildings are being targeted by Islamist terror group Boko Haram (Photo:AP)

Release International has warned of a growing threat to Christians in Nigeria after a wave of attacks on churches.

There were reports this week that another church was targeted by Islamist terror group Boko Haram, this time in Kondunga.

The attack comes after an unnamed spokesman for Boko Haram told the Egyptian media that the group was determined to “eradicate Christians from certain parts of the country”.

The Christian Association of Nigeria believes that Boko Haram’s intention is to “exterminate” Nigeria’s Christian population.

According to Release, CAN President Pastor Ayodele Oritsejafor told a press conference that he feared the potential “disintegration of the country”. He called for firm action by the federal government and for peaceful Muslims to rise against the militants.

Egyptian news website Bikyamasr.com said it was told by a Boko Haram spokesman that the group intended to “end the Christian presence” in Nigeria in order to create a “proper Islamic state that Christians won’t be able to stay”.

The news agency quoted the spokesman as saying that the group planned to start kidnapping Christian women.

“We are going to put into action new efforts to strike fear into the Christians of the power of Islam by kidnapping their women … We will demand as a ransom that the families leave our Islamic areas.”

Release, which works with persecuted Christians worldwide, said the report has yet to be verified. It warns, however, that the report would not be inconsistent with the pattern of violence perpetrated by the group in recent years.

Boko Haram killed dozens of people in church bombings over Christmas. In addition to churches, the group has attacked police stations and government buildings.

It is estimated to have killed more than 1,000 people since 2009 and at least 300 this year so far.

A Release contact in Nigeria warns: “Christians are no longer safe in the northern part of Nigeria.

“What began with the segregation and marginalisation of Christians … has now graduated into the suicide bombing of Christians worshippers with a clear intention of mass murder.”

Release International is asking Christians to pray for the church in Nigeria throughout the month of March.

“The situation is desperate,” said Release chief executive Andy Dipper.

“We are calling on Christians to devote a whole month to praying for our brothers and sisters in Nigeria and we urge churches in the UK to make time during their Sunday services to pray.”

Release is working with partners in Nigeria to provide pastoral and spiritual support to persecuted Christians. It is re-roofing damaged homes and helping Christians whose livelihoods have been destroyed to set up small businesses.

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