Nigeria (MNN) — An anonymous “Fulani Association” has threatened Christians in Nigeria’s Zamfara State, telling them to close churches or be attacked. Bandits sent the letter to a local police station. It details the planned burning of churches and the kidnapping of pastors and their families.
The Fulani group claims Christians started the trouble by chasing away their herds.
Tabitha Price with Wycliffe Associates says, “We’re hearing from our team members on the ground that this has created such a great need for the church. We need to support widows and orphans because the Christian men are being killed, and the women and children are fleeing.”
Nigerian authorities have promised to protect Christians against these attacks. But Price says, “Some of the challenges that we’ve heard from our own partners and Christian friends is that in spite of the Nigerian government’s lip service to religious freedom, there’s often undercurrents of support. Or they at least turn a blind eye towards what is going on if it’s happening towards Christian groups.”
The U.S. State Department recently removed Nigeria from a list of countries violating religious freedom. The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) strongly disagreed. They said the Nigerian government allows too much violence like that threatened by the Fulani group.
But Price says Nigerian Christians care more that Christians from the U.S. know about their situation and pray for them. “They appreciate the fact that Christians in America are concerned, that partners with Wycliffe Associates are sending them financial support or expressing prayer.”
You can join this effort. Wycliffe Associates is sending money to local church leaders in the area. Price says, “The leader of a local denomination has expressed to us that there are just countless orphans that are needing support. We’ve heard they need food and clothing. They fled their homes with nothing, but they also need temporary shelter.”
“They need help rebuilding in a safer place. Which of course is a challenge. How far do they have to move to get to a safer place?”
The header photo shows people gathering firewood in rural Zamfara State. (Photo courtesy of CDC Global, CC BY 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons)