Nigeria (MNN) — Six more people were killed late last week at the hands of Nigerian terrorist group Boko Haram.
Attacks on Christian churches by the Boko Haram have been practically a weekly occurrence in Nigeria for the last couple of months. But this particular string of attacks was not directly against Christians. Instead, the attacks included a run-in with the military Joint Task Force (JTF).
Two people were killed in Maiduguri during a gunfight between the JTF and suspected Boko Haram members, according to Reuters. Gunmen later killed four people at a nearby market.
Interestingly, this all happened the day after Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan agreed to lift the state of emergency on several regions.
"It seems like they clearly are making a statement," says Todd Nettleton with Voice of the Martyrs. "But it also is the beginning of Ramadan, so it's interesting to think that may also play into this."
During the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, jihadists often have increased their attacks. Ramadan just began on Friday.
More Boko Haram attacks like this only increase the concerns of Christians, many of whom bring machetes with them to church to defend themselves from militants. But the way these particular attacks were handled by the government is actually a good indicator.
"I think one of the positive things about this story is that the military was actually fighting back against Boko Haram," says Nettleton. "That has not always been the case in the attacks in Nigeria, so the fact that the military was involved–that they were trying to take an active role in stopping Boko Haram–is good news."
Better news than that is the prayerful approach Nigerian believers have begun to take. "As they think about defending themselves, they're also thinking about praying and seeking God's favor, and seeking the move of God's Spirit in Nigeria," says Nettleton.
Especially in this season of Ramadan when Muslims are more openly seeking God, believers are praying for Muslims and even Boko Haram members to meet Christ. Pray with them that the Holy Spirit would reveal His truth to many in Nigeria, not only so that the attacks might stop, but so that more people would be rescued from death and brought into the eternal grace and life of Jesus Christ.