Nigeria (MNN) — Nigeria’s government is considering a bill that would criminalize ransom payments for the return of abducted schoolchildren. On paper, the government condemns the practice. However, authorities regularly exchange cash for kids, making abduction a lucrative business.
On July 5, armed men attacked Bethel Baptist High School in Kaduna state and kidnapped more than 100 students. Since December, it’s reportedly the 10th mass kidnapping, and more than 80 Baptist students remain in captivity. Officials suspended all schooling statewide for another three weeks due to insecurity.
Attackers have kidnapped more than 1,000 students so far this year. President/CEO of TransWorld Radio Lauren Libby says it’s all part of a broader battle for control of Nigeria.
“Power is the issue; who gets power? It’s not the government necessarily; it’s the extremists who are fighting each other,” Libby says.
“I deeply respect our brothers and sisters who live in that part of the world. They are true martyrs.”
Combatting terror with hope
Boko Haram has been wreaking havoc in northern Nigeria for more than a decade. See our coverage here. Nonetheless, “the Church in Nigeria is probably as strong as it’s ever been,” Libby says.
“When the Church is under persecution, that’s when they get very strong.”
The Islamic State and Fulani herdsmen also endanger Christian communities. Last week, Fulani herdsmen killed a Christian pastor they kidnapped earlier in the month.
Living under constant threat doesn’t get easier with time. “I had a friend several years ago who was preaching on a Sunday morning, and a group of people who were part of a Muslim group came in and shot him, right in the pulpit. That happens quite often. It is not an easy existence for believers, particularly up in the northern part [of the country],” Libby says.
Yet, God uses TWR’s ministry to redeem those who persecute His followers. Shortly before the pandemic began last year, TWR installed a powerful new transmitter to reach communities in northern Nigeria.
“God is doing some things, and we’re seeing people come to Christ. We’ve heard of people coming to Christ by listening to the radio in the area,” Libby says.
“We produce some Muslim-centric programming; for instance, The Prophets or The Way of Righteousness. They take a person who is of the Islamic faith and bring them forward in their thinking.”
A new partner station expands TWR’s reach to communities in desperate need of hope. “We just signed on a new AM radio station that covers about two-thirds of the country very well,” Libby says.
“About 35- or 40% of Nigeria listens to AM radio, so we try to encourage believers and speak to the Islamic extremists about who Jesus is.”
Pray extremists will encounter Christ through TWR broadcasts. “We’re getting a number of responses from the Fulani tribesmen area [and] the Boko Haram area,” Libby says.
“Usually, the responses are, ‘We don’t appreciate you, and we hope something happens to you.’ But you know what? They’re listening.”
Header image is a 2016 photo depicting students at a school in Lagos, Nigeria. (Photo courtesy of Doug Linstedt/Unsplash)