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Published on 08 August, 2012

Terror spreads to Central Nigeria

Nigeria (MNN) — There's been yet another attack on churches
in Nigeria.

According to police, gunmen fired on a Bible study at Deeper Life Church in central Nigeria Monday, killing at least 19 people–including the
pastor–and wounding others. Hours later, bombers struck a primary school in Lokoja,
the capital of Kogi state. There's
also been an unconfirmed media report of another bomb discovered at the Revival Church in the same area.

The attacks represent a move into the central region of the country. Although no one has claimed it, the attack fits the
style of Boko Haram, a radical Islamist sect.

Boko Haram, whose name in Hausa means "Western
education is sacrilege," is responsible for more than 660 killings this
year alone in Nigeria, many of them at churches.

In preparation for this story, Christian Aid Mission Africa Director Rae Burnett spoke with the head of the mission agency they
support to ask about the latest incident. While not dismissive of the tragedy, he indicated that there's more
violence than what occasionally gets reported in the media. "'If we told
you every time an attack occurs, or every time that shots are fired or bombs
are thrown, cars are hijacked or people are just killed, I would do nothing but
sit at my computer.'"

The tension levels are reaching critical mass. "Everybody is fearful–" explains
Burnett, "Christians and non-Christians
because you can be at the wrong place at the wrong time. It's not just churches
that are being attacked."

Boko Haram has a singular focus: to re-create Nigeria as an
Islamic state, instill Sharia law, and eradicate the Christian population. Despite U.S. sanctions imposed on three
leaders of the group, they appear unfazed. In fact, says Burnett, "Just
this past week they threatened the president and said that he has to convert
to Islam and rule under Sharia."

The conundrum: the attacks open doors for the Gospel, but
also have been problematic. This particular ministry partner
also indicated that because they're using resources to assist the attack
victims in multiple areas, they can't maintain the work goals they wanted to achieve. 

Even so, Burnett says, "These missionaries are even
more committed to expending every ounce of their own lives for the Gospel of the
Lord, so they're not at all intimidated."

The work
of this ministry partner has now expanded geographically to cover most of the Islamic north of Nigeria. With
100 missionaries to oversee, there's a lot at stake. Burnett explains: "The headquarters is in extreme
danger because people do know what it is. Tthey hardly even go to their office,
but he needs to have a headquarters in which to operate."   

Christian Aid Mission helped buy land for a new building,
but then funds ran dry. The partner reports
that more than 50 pastors and missionary
leaders have so far died at the hands of Boko Haram. Burnett says, "This is really
a crucial thing for them. They're in extreme danger where they are now. It has nothing
to do with the missionary leaving the field. It's not the field. It's the headquarters of
the ministry. None of the missionaries have left the field and their places of
ministry."

Christian Aid wants to support this partner by raising as
much of the $35,000 needed as possible to start construction on a safer headquarters
in Abuja. See our Featured Links
Section for details.

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