Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin – No. 232 – Wed 13 Aug 2003
——————————- NIGERIA: PRAYING FOR THE NATION ——————————-
This RLP is a call to pray for Nigeria as a nation, particularly regarding mission. More than 3000 Nigerian missionaries minister locally, cross-culturally and in some of the world’s most hostile Muslim regions. The Nigerian Evangelical Missions Association (NEMA) networks some 95 Nigerian churches and mission agencies for the purpose of effective mission to Nigeria’s unreached groups, the Muslim north, and beyond. Religious liberty and mission are seamlessly intertwined – they are the two sides of the one coin. Jesus warned us that we (Christians) would be persecuted. However, he also explained why they (our persecutors) would do this: ‘This is because they have never known the Father or me.’ (John 16:1-4 NLT) Whilst religious freedom is seen as the answer to the problems faced by missions, it is mission that has the solution to the problem of persecution. Through mission, the Holy Spirit transforms hearts.
Nigeria has an extremely tense Muslim-Christian religious fault- line running east to west through the centre. The greatest pressure is in the middle belt states of Kaduna and Plateau, where the Muslim/Christian ratios are nearly even and tension has spilled over into violent conflict on several occasions, leading to the geographic polarisation of the Muslim and Christian communities.
The northern states have adopted Sharia (Islamic) law, heightening Islamic zeal in the north. Kano state, which has a sizable and intensely persecuted Christian minority, has recently elected a pro- ‘strict’-sharia, Islamist Governor Shekarau. The same night his election victory was announced on 21 April, a Baptist pastor, along with his wife, three children and two guests, were burnt to death in their home in an area of Kano city known as ‘no-man’s land’. Pastor Madumere was known as a powerful Christian preacher who led many Muslims to Christ. The state authorities have closed most of Kano’s Christian schools and churches, and many churches and mission properties have been vandalised and burnt by Muslim vigilantes.
Recently several southern Christian communities have been attacked by followers of African traditional religions (‘traditionalists’). On 16 July, Rev. Fr Gilbert Ohai was assassinated in his home in the southern state of Anambra. Assailants entered his room while he was praying and fired shots at him. The Nigerian Daily Champion newspaper reported that ‘miraculously the bullets did not penetrate his body’. In spite of this clear sign, the killers then used machetes to kill him. Local traditional elders and doctors are reported to have been angry that Fr Ohai’s prayer and healing ministry was more powerful and popular than their medicine.
Traditionalists attacked Christians also in the southern state of Ebonyi on 28 July. Reports say they declared war on the whole Christian community in response to allegations that the Christians had instigated court proceedings against them. When the Christians successfully escaped to the local police headquarters, the angry traditionalists rampaged, destroying property worth N11 million. They claim that Christian principles and way of life are an affront to their tradition, and for a peaceful co-existence, the Christians must submit to the dictates of the tradition. Those dictates include being flogged in the Omebe traditional masquerade, and shouting a password whenever an Omebe passes them in the street.
PLEASE PRAY SPECIFICALLY FOR:
* strong, wise federal government in Nigeria, leading the nation in justice, righteousness and peace. Pray for President Obasanjo. 1 Tim 2:1-5
* Nigerian career missionaries and ‘ambassadors for Christ’ to be empowered by the Holy Spirit with effective integrity, grace and witness, that many will be saved in both the Muslim north and the traditionalist communities of the south.
‘The one who used to persecute us now preaches the very faith he tried to destroy.’ Galatians 1:23 – speaking of Saul (Paul).
* Nigerian missions, especially the Nigerian Evangelical Missions Association (NEMA), that God will provide NEMA with its needs, spiritual wisdom and clear guidance on mission strategy.
* Christians who are presently facing persecution at the hands of Muslims or traditionalists, that they will be faithful in truth and righteousness, courageous in witness and perseverance, and blessed by their heavenly Father.
SUMMARY TO USE IN BULLETINS UNABLE TO RUN THE WHOLE ARTICLE: ———————————————————— PRAYING FOR THE NIGERIAN NATION
Nigeria is a land of prayer, mission and church growth. It is also a land of religious tension, particularly along the central Muslim- Christian religious fault-line where religious conflict has claimed many lives and polarised the communities. The northern states have adopted Sharia (Islamic) law, heightening Islamic zeal in the north. This is a serious problem in Kano State where the sizable Christian minority is severely persecuted and most Christian schools and churches have been closed. In two southern states, ‘traditionalists’ have recently violently attacked Christian communities, having declared war in Ebonyi to force Christians to submit. Pray for strong, wise federal government; strong, wise Christian leadership; and for the Spirit’s anointing on Nigeria’s amazing missionaries and mission bodies so many will be saved.
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The WEA Religious Liberty Commission sponsors this RL Prayer List to help individuals and groups pray specifically and regularly for religious liberty issues, and in particular to uphold the Church where it is suffering persecution.
RL Prayer is moderated by Ron Clough, a commissioner of the WEA RLC and convenor of the Australian EA RLC.
Elizabeth Kendal researched and authored this message.
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