(MNN) — Explosions and the sound of gunfire were heard throughout Nigeria's largest northern city of Kano Wednesday.
military spent the day engaged with suspected militants
from the Boko Haram Islamist sect, with clashes that have become increasingly
of Boko Haram's signature moves is setting off multiple bombs in succession followed
by shooting sprees. The terrorist group is suspected in for church bombings on
Sunday in Suleja and claimed responsibility for attacks on Tuesday in Maiduguri.
The February 19 church attack came just two months after Islamists
killed 44 Christians and blinded seven in a church bombing in nearby Madalla. Carl
Moeller is President and CEO of Open Doors USA. He says this is not
surprising. "The increasingly intentional
activity of Boko Haram is now taking on the characteristics of a real war. These
are not random attacks, as they're often characterized in the media. They're really intentional, and they're designed with one purpose in mind: the
elimination of Christianity."
Haram, which is waging an insurgency to try to impose Sharia law, has become
increasingly coordinated and deadly in its methods in the last six months. In
Hausa, the name means "Western education is forbidden."
What's more disconcerting is that since they reformed after being
crushed in 2009, Moeller says, it looks
like they got help. "All indications are that they're connected to the
global terror network like Al Shabbab and Al Qaeda and others. We've seen Boko Haram become far more
organized and intentional about their attacks. It's very clear that there's a
Direct News reports Sunday's bomb was planted in a parked car outside of Christ
Embassy church. Triumphant Ministries
International Church was close enough to make investigators suspect both
churches had been targets. Authorities arrested members of the sect the same
with the arrests, stopping the carnage won't happen in the near future. Moeller explains, "Nothing we can see is
showing that there's enough resolve at the government level, enough coordination,
to destroy the network within Northern Nigeria.
Frankly, the tide in Nigeria is very strong WITH Boko Haram."
There's been little international outcry on behalf of the
Christians. The crisis does not seem to
merit attention on the international stage, says Moeller. "Frankly, most of the world is quite
reticent to get involved in some distant conflict in Nigeria. With so many
things other happening around the world,
Nigeria happens to fall off the plate of international attention, and yet unfortunately, that's going to result in thousands of more deaths."
However, many of the Christians Open Doors has been partnering
with refuse to give up or to flee. They
are still meeting for worship, and the Gospel is still going forward. "The fact that the church continues to
meet in some of these places that churches have been burned out and they continue
to assemble, has been a great testimony to their persecutors, that this message
of Jesus is valid and powerful."
Moeller goes on to say that, "Nigeria is so
important to the spread of Christianity throughout Africa. Please pray with me
for the Christians in Nigeria and for wisdom for President Goodluck Jonathan
in dealing with the attacks and instability."
One thing that can be done for believers is prayer. Many believers face quandaries on at least
two fronts: fight back with deadly force against the attackers, or don't. Stay or go. "Jesus told us to pray for those who
persecute us and to bless our enemies. That's kind of the role the church in Nigeria
has to take up now. That they're doing it is a testimony to the truth of the
is ranked No. 13 on the Open Doors World Watch List of 50 countries which are
the worst persecutors of Christians. According to World Watch List, Nigeria had
at least 300 martyrs in 2011, although the actual number could be doubled or
tripled. That number is the most in any country, although North Korea could have
had more, but information is hard to obtain due to the isolation of the