Nigeria’s government struggles with ethnic and religious violence.

By May 24, 2004

Nigeria (MNN)–Portions of Nigeria are under a state of emergency following weeks of bloody fighting. President Olusegun Obasanjo said the emergency decree will be reviewed in six months.

The National Secretary of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) claims 3000 Christians were killed in the Kano mayhem. They further say 30 churches and over 200 houses belonging to Christians have been destroyed while over 90 Christian students were killed at the Bayero University, Kano (BUK) and the Federal College of Education (FCE), Bichi.

While casualties on both sides are high, it is the Christians who feel unprotected. The violence sparked out of control in Sharia law states, first.

Church leaders say the government response to the clashes has further polarized the people along ethnic and religious lines.

The situation makes it difficult to continue ministry and discipleship. Open Doors’ Jerry Dykstra describes the hostile environment. “It’s retaliation between the Muslims and the Christians, and unfortunately, that’s escalating and escalating, and the stakes are getting higher. About 10,000 to 20,000 Christians are reported to have fled their homes. Unfortunately it’s just becoming a tougher place to live for Christians.”

Dyskstra says in spite of the spread of violence, their teams are still in place. He adds there’s a greater effect to consider. “From Nigeria, ministry and evangelism goes out throughout Africa. So, if they are having problems inside Nigeria, that ministry is going to be affected to places surrounding.”

Open Doors is working to strengthen the Persecuted Church in countries like Sudan, Ethiopia, and Nigeria. They help train Christian pastors and church leaders, assist with literacy training and economic relief, and deliver Bibles.

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