Nigeria (MNN) — Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. In Nigeria, these words speak into painful situations of loss.
The country is ranked as the 12th* most dangerous country to live in as a Christian. Nigerian Christians face frequent attacks from extremists groups like the Fulani herdsmen and Boko Haram.
Is Reconciliation Possible?
A spokesman for Voice of the Martyrs Canada Greg Musselman says some Muslims are taking steps towards reconciliation with Christians.
A report by International Christian Concern details how a group of Muslims visited Christian widows with gifts. The Muslims offered them food, school items, and clothing in efforts to move towards reconciliation.
“I think that this is a great opportunity for communities in Muslim communities [and] Christian communities [that] are extending forgiveness to each other. They’re trying to show love, and then that just opens up the dialogue. That opens up opportunities to share the message of Jesus’ love,” Musselman says.
Christians in Nigeria Still In Danger
Still, reconciliation efforts do not mean Christians are in the clear. Many in Nigeria remain targets of extremists groups because of their faith. Still, Christians outside of Nigeria can help their brothers and sisters through diligent prayer. After all, if one part of the body suffers, the whole body suffers with it. Let’s not forget to intercede on behalf of our persecuted family.
“We can pray that God would protect our brothers and sisters in Christ. And, and the sharing of the Gospel message changes the hearts of the people that in many cases or even the persecutors,” Musselman says.
Pray for Christians in Nigeria to have strength and perseverance in the face of trial. Pray for them to have opportunities to share the Gospel. Also pray for their emotional, physical, and spiritual healing. When Christians from the persecuted church find out their global brothers and sisters pray for them, Musselman says they are often encouraged, especially since some cannot leave their situations.
Forgiving the Persecutors
Another way VOMC is supporting the persecuted church is through microloan projects. These microloans help people set up small businesses, like making and selling purses or soap. Already this program has helped two widows, Victoria and Janet, who previously had no way to support themselves.
“It’s a hand up, not a handout. They can feel good about themselves. They’re the ones that are doing it, [supporting themselves],” Musselman explains.
But there is something special about Janet’s story. When Musselman met Janet, he asked her how she could forgive, especially after losing her husband. Janet answered with a story.
During a rainy season, Fulani Muslims had to leave their village, but they had nowhere to seek shelter. Some of the people ended up at Janet’s front door, begging for help. Janet surprisingly allowed them to stay in their home, even though they were from the same tribe who had committed awful acts against her family.
“She said ‘the reason I knew I’d forgiven is because I had compassion for them.’ When we hear those stories, we really see the Gospel at work,” Musselman recounts.
As we find ways to support our persecuted brothers and sisters through prayers and financial support, let’s also take time to listen to their stories and learn from them.
To find more ways to come alongside Christians in Nigeria, click here.
*Nigeria is ranked #12 on Open Doors USA’s World Watch List. Find the World Watch List here.
Header photo courtesy of Muhammadtaha Ibrahim via Unsplash.