Muslim youth attack churches and house

By June 8, 2010

Nigeria (MNN) — There has been yet another attack against Nigerian Christian: this time in Kano state, north of Jos where January and March violence took place. Two churches and a pastor's home were destroyed.

Todd Nettleton of Voice of the Martyrs, USA said, "In this most recent event, which happened in May, we have seen young Muslims–reportedly as many as 100 of them–coming onto church property, attacking the people who were there, and burning down the buildings."

Fortunately, no one was killed. However, because of the number of deaths early this year, this attack mostly went under the radar. The violence that does get reported is rarely referred to as "religious persecution."

"Typically, when we hear reports of the violence in Nigeria, we don't hear the words 'Christian persecution.' What we typically hear is that great phrase 'sectarian violence,'" Nettleton said.

With Nigeria divided almost in half, with Muslims to the north and Christians to the south, not all of the violence is radical Muslim attacks against evangelical Christians. Many nominal Christians, or people who call themselves "Christians" because they are not Muslims, have lashed out against Muslims, as well.

Plus, not all violence stems from religious causes. According to ABC News, ethnic tensions prevail, primarily between the Berom group (deemed mostly Christian) and the largely-Muslim Hausa and Fulani groups. Additionally, access to oil revenues contributes to political distributes throughout the country.

Though all attacks may not stem from religious differences, they still cause much strife and hurt in victims' lives. Yet, Nettleton said he holds hope for the future of Nigeria because of the way Christians have responded.

After the March massacres, one pastor preached a striking sermon on forgiveness. "One of the things that he pointed out was: this is what happened to Christ. He was persecuted. We're experiencing that firsthand right now in our lives. When Christ hung on the Christ, He said, 'Forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.' This is our chance to step forward and experience that as well," Nettleton said.

And Christians are listening to this message. "In spite of the attacks, they are standing strong in the Gospel and in the message of forgiveness. We pray that this can be the seeds of revival," Nettleton said.

Pray also for the physical recovery, as Christians in Kano look to rebuild their churches. You can visit VOM's Web site for updates on the church in Nigeria and around the world.

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