Another attack targets Nigerian Christians on Sunday

By March 13, 2012

Nigeria (MNN) — It's been another Sunday where the echoes of a
bomb shattered another worship service in Nigeria.

Two weeks after a suicide bomb attack by the Islamist sect Boko
Haram during a church service left at least three Christians dead, a similar blast
during a church service in Jos (Plateau State) on March 11, 2012 killed at
least ten people.

Rae Burnett, Africa Director for
Christian Aid Mission, says the sect is
focused on clearing obstacles from their goal. "Their main emphasis has
really been to affect Islamic decision makers who would then force Sharia in
Nigeria, and they were trying to put pressure on them."

Compass Direct News reports that the explosion damaged the
church's roof, windows, and a portion of a fence surrounding its compound. There were also reports of reprisal attacks,
says Burnett. "Some so-called
Christian youths did retaliate. There's been a lot of that, actually, in Jos, so
it's a serious danger–partially because the government is doing absolutely
nothing, because they're afraid themselves and they're not doing anything in
all this lawlessness. "

Boko
Haram told reporters the bombing was to avenge the killing and
dehumanization of Muslims.
"We attacked simply because it's a church,
and we can decide to attack any other church. We have just started,"
spokesman Abu Qaqa said.

The
question of civil war has come up among church leaders, says Burnett. "When it comes to this issue of
retaliation, you have a huge divide. Those that I know who are the leadership
in there are continuing to try to cool the rest of the group, saying,
'This is not our way, to retaliate.'" Burnett notes that the other side of the issue comes with the threat to the
families. "They (Boko Haram) said
that they were going to start kidnapping women and girls, and they either force
conversions or they use them as sex slaves–this could really be a problem if
they do this. I don't know what the response will be from the people, but that
could be an incentive to civil war."

Sadly, Burnett says violence has become part of the daily
landscape in Nigeria. In speaking with a
church partner, he told her he doesn't report every incident. "The danger is just everywhere all the time,
whether you hear about it or not. We hear about these big bombings, but we don't
hear about a lot of these murders. That's what terrorism is. It's not always
targeted. It's to make everyone afraid, to terrorize everyone, and that's what
they're doing." 

Terror is a distraction to ministry. But Burnett notes that a lot of their
work has not been disrupted for two reasons. One: they work through indigenous
missionaries. Two: "Most of the work of missions, reaching
unreached tribes, goes on in remote villages. Indigenous missionaries, so far,
have been pretty safe in those places. The people there don't like Boko Haram,
and it's really opened doors for the Gospel."

However, that doesn't mean their team is without caution. The aggressive terrorist attacks have become
bolder, and their team says the need to relocate ministry headquarters has
become critical.

One of Christian Aid Mission's team leaders writes, "We are
very careful in everything and now know there is every need to move our office
right away. Because Muslims are the only property owners here, we rent from a
fanatical Muslim, who for one reason or the other has yet failed to evict us.
Now anything can make us a target. We must move immediately."

Risk is part of their reality. Burnett says this does not take their partners by surprise. "It's
actually producing some real life for the Kingdom. The missionaries are not
afraid. This is the cost of being a missionary, and these indigenous
missionaries marched into the fray, rejoicing that this is giving them a much
better benefit for the Gospel, while fearing for the future of their
country."

Keep praying for the situation. The Gospel continues to go forward. However, if the Boko Haram has its way, the stakes are even higher than most
realize, says Burnett. "From what
I've seen, it's by far the most influential nation, especially on
missions. If Nigeria falls, it will have
a terrible effect on the rest of the continent."

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