Nigeria (MNN) – Recently, Nigeria outranked India with the highest number of people in extreme poverty. Right now, more than 82 million people in Nigeria are suffering from poverty – that’s 44.2 percent of the nation’s entire population.
According to World Poverty Clock, six more people in Nigeria fall into poverty every minute.
India is improving their economy because they have one of the largest workforces in the world and are becoming more stable. On the opposite end, however, World Poverty Clock estimates that by 2030, the percentage of people living in extreme poverty in Nigeria will rise to 45.5 percent.
Causes of Nigeria’s Poverty
World Mission’s Greg Kelley shares what has led up to this economic crisis.
“It’s really the perfect storm from an economic standpoint. A lot of foreign investment has been highly discouraged just because of the instabilities in the areas and the security concerns. It’s been kidnappings of foreign workers and all kinds of violence that’s going on and it just really discourages outside investment. So, that’s a big thing and that has just pummeled the currency which is the Naira and it’s been devalued.”
Prices of food, housing, water, electricity, and other essentials have risen because of the devaluation of the Naira, making it difficult for people to get even the basic necessities.
Kelley says people are working up to twelve hours a day to try to provide a single meal for his or her family on a daily basis.
Further, the economic strain has increased due to the number of refugees and internally displaced people in the nation and the money it takes for the government to care for them.
“When you have tens of thousands of refugees inside of your own country, the government is definitely trying to care for them, but that puts such a drain on the economy as you’re constantly trying to care for these needs of people who literally have nothing.”
Kelley adds, that the economy, “it’s not really stabilizing. That’s the problem.”
The poverty in Nigeria is widespread throughout the cities but takes an even larger role in remote areas.
“Generally speaking, the larger population centers like Lagos and Abuja are going to create more opportunities and so, people are drawn to those communities, but in the rural areas, especially in the north and in the middle regions where Christianity and Islam collide, where the tensions are the highest, those are the places that really are the most vulnerable because the security issues are lacking and so, you’ll find in those situations, the poverty to be much more extreme,” Kelley says.
Nigeria is split in half between the Christians and Muslims. Muslims tend to live in the north and Christians tend to live in the south.
Yet, World Mission sees the importance of the national Church to stop the separation and unite their efforts to reach Muslims as well as their own people.
A Discouraged Church
Right now, many in the Church are discouraged and unmotivated to help others in need as well as sharing the Gospel because of the economic problems and the persecution they face.
“When the Church is weak, spiritually speaking, it’s non-missional. It’s not going to be concerned about outreach,” Kelley says.
“You’ve got two things going on in the Church at the same time. The commitment to growing and to strengthening itself, but also, you’ve got this outward orientation and what you, unfortunately, find in the Church in Nigeria in the south, is there’s just not an appetite, there’s not an interest to be missional and to go out into the northern part because literally, it’s an issue of fear.”
Kelley says there are many stories of Christians being persecuted and targeted, especially when they travel to the north to share the Gospel.
Fear has taken root in many believers and they’ve lost their drive to share the Truth with others.
Supporting World Mission
However, World Mission is helping to raise up leaders who are willing and committed to sharing the Gospel in the north through the distribution of solar-powered audio Bibles, the Treasure, and by kick-starting humanitarian aid projects.
“What we found in northern Nigeria is that providing water and medical specifically create tremendous inroads to sharing the Gospel,” Kelley says.
“Our national partners will go into these areas that are most vulnerable, lacking water and medical. They’ll become the hands and feet of Jesus and that creates the open door for us to distribute the Treasure into these particular areas.”
Seeing how poverty has increased in the nation, World Mission knows there is no lack of needed aid projects or the Gospel to give people hope.
Come alongside World Mission in their efforts to provide people with physical and spiritual support, and pray for missionaries who go north to share the Truth of Jesus.
“It’s important that the Church in the west understand that there are people who are risking their life, even children, young people, that are standing up” and taking the Gospel to these dangerous areas.
“We have to come alongside those individuals. We have to pray for them. We have to resource them because they’re going into places that Jesus is unknown, that the Gospel has never been shared.”
Header photo by 2Photo Pots on Unsplash