In the face of intense persecution, believers stand their ground

By September 25, 2012

Nigeria (MNN) — Four believers perished in a suicide bombing thought to be associated with Boko Haram.

Nearly 50 were injured in the attack on St. John's Catholic Cathedral Church, located in the state capital of Bauchi. Several were quite severe, and the death toll is expected to rise. According to the Associated Press, drive-by attacks and church bombings initiated by the Boko Haram have killed over 680 people this year.

Yet, believers are standing firm, says Emily Fuentes with Open Doors USA.

"Their faith is just unshakeable," she said.

The Boko Haram is bound and determined to wipe Christians off the face of the Nigerian map. Their regular and persistent attacks can certainly make evangelism a daunting task.

"When you're dealing with people who are this extreme," Fuentes explained, "it seems almost impossible to witness or share the Good News."

The fact that these believers remain is a living testimony. They're not backing down, and that sends a message louder than any words could say.

"Despite the hardships, these Christians are remaining strong," said Fuentes. "I think that really is one of their strongest witnesses."

In a recent trip to Nigeria, Fuentes got an inside look at the perseverance of these believers. They shared their stories and experiences with Open Doors–not to gain pity or donations, but prayer.

Fuentes recounted one tale that created an others-centered passion within a 24-year-old Nigerian believer. In January, members of Boko Haram infiltrated this young man's village disguised as policemen. One stopped the believer and asked for his name, then shot him in the arm because the young man was named after an apostle.

"God kept me alive for a reason, and I have to live to share His message," he told Fuentes after sharing his story with her. "I have to use this story to encourage other Christians and bring more to Christ."

His testimony had a profound impact on the Open Doors worker.

"It was amazing to hear his perspective," Fuentes shared.

Many Nigerian believers share the drive to make their stories known. Many were encouraged to hear fellow Christians knew about their situation and were praying for them. It gave them further reason to share their accounts with Open Doors. Teams shared 1 Corinthians 12:12-26 with Nigerian believers and encouraged them with a reminder that they all belonged to the Body of Christ.

"When one member suffers, we all suffer," Fuentes pointed out. Open Doors asked how Christians in free nations could stand with the persecuted church in Nigeria. Their response was simple: share our story.

"They knew once others heard their stories, they would be compelled to pray," said Fuentes.

Pray for strength and encouragement for Nigerian believers. Start a prayer movement by visiting and sharing the link to this story.

"And of course, [pray] for their safety and their livelihood," Fuentes added.

You can find more stories of persecuted believers in Nigeria and around the world on the Open Doors "One with Them" Web site.

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