[notice]As attacks on Christians in Nigeria intensify, internal forces want to take matters into their own hands. But this could have disastrous consequences, says a report published in INContext Ministries’ World In Motion, Issue 75.[/notice]
Since Nigeria’s government has proved itself incapable of protecting the country’s Christians, the militant Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta has pledged to protect them by targeting Islamic institutions with retaliatory violence. Last year, almost 70 percent of all Christians killed worldwide were murdered in Nigeria, but if sectarian warfare breaks out in the African nation, Nigeria may become the deadliest place on earth to be a Christian, according to International Christian Concern. Many of the more than 900 Nigerian Christians killed in 2012 died horribly at the hands of Islamic militants from Boko Haram. In response, MEND announced in April that it would begin bombing mosques and assassinating clerics unless Boko Haram stops its attacks. (WorthyNews)
From a Nigerian perspective, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (“MEND”) is one of the largest militant groups in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria. The organization claims to expose exploitation and oppression of the people of the Niger Delta and devastation of the natural environment by public-private partnerships between the Federal Government of Nigeria and corporations involved in the production of oil in the Niger Delta. MEND has been linked to attacks on petroleum operations in Nigeria as part of the conflict in the Niger Delta, engaging in actions including sabotage, theft, property destruction, guerrilla warfare, and kidnapping.
For local Nigerians who have suffered the loss of loved ones, MEND comes as a fresh breeze in a time when world governments like the US (who recently denied the fact that attacks on Christian have a religious agenda) in the country, refuse to help. With more than 14 000 people (both Christian and Muslim) killed since 1999, official documents show only 1% of the perpetrators have been prosecuted. Nigerians want justice, they need help. But at what cost does help from MEND come?
From an African perspective, the continent has known its share of seemingly courageous groups standing up for the good of humanity, only to be caught up in the cloak of terrorism, claiming the lives of those they originally proclaimed to protect. One such group is the infamous rebel group known as the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), originating in Uganda. The LRA started out a civilian resistance movement fighting the National Resistance Army (NRA) led by coup leader Museveni, who took over power after Uganda gained independence in 1962.
The LRA, currently lead by Joseph Kony, was started by Alice Lakwena who said she was inspired by the Holy Spirit of God to stand up against the brutality of the NRA. Today, the LRA and Joseph Kony is synonymous with child soldiers, under-age prostitution and wide scale terrorism throughout central Africa. What once started out as a religious, even Christian, resistance force, turned out to become one of the most feared rebel groups in the world.
From a Christian perspective, almost 70% of all Christians killed as a result of persecution worldwide were murdered in Nigeria, making Nigeria one of the most dangerous places to be a Christian today. The 2013 release of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) Report indicates that the United States refers to Christian persecution as mere ‘religious-related cultural violence’ that has nothing to do with the actual persecution of Christians because of a proclamation of their faith.
The US, who sends out the most missionaries to the unreached world and undoubtedly hosts the most ‘theologically correct’ Christian leaders, has become irrelevant as Nigerians look no further to the West for help, but rather to internal rebel groups who steal, murder and rape.
Nigeria stands as a line of resistance against the southwards move of Islam. Those on the frontline are paying dearly with their lives so Christians in southern Africa, not just Nigeria, may have freedom a while longer. If the Church in the West refuses to strengthen the Church in Nigeria (and elsewhere along the 10th parallel) it could