Thousands displaced in Nigeria battle

By July 31, 2009

Nigeria (MNN) — Nigeria continues to route Islamic
militants out of the north, but the fighting has displaced thousands.  

There are some conflicting reports over the nature of the
fighting and whether or not it is sectarian. The militant group, called the Boko Haram, is pushing for sharia law in
all Nigeria's states. The trouble
started with an extremist attack on a police station in Bauchi state Sunday. Then came attacks in Kano, Yobe and Borno.

As the government works to keep the lid on an explosive
situation, it raises concerns for those living in areas where Muslims and
Christians have clashed in the past.  Although sharia law was originally sanctioned to govern only Muslim citizens in the
north and in central Nigeria, non-Muslims living in the regions have also been
affected. Christians frequently face opposition in areas controlled by Muslims.

Evangelist Sammy Tippit has trained church leaders in
Nigeria and still has ties to those he worked with. When asked if he thought believers were the
initial target, he said, "I think
that what is taking place right now is aimed at more than the Christians. The
Christians are part of what's happening, but it's aimed at the government as
well–at the institutions, because this particular group is really wanting
Nigeria to be a Muslim country." 

Tippit urges believers to follow the way of Christ because the
extremists "are really intent on crushing any kind of Christian movement in
those states and in those areas especially in northern Nigeria. We need to pray
for God to intervene, for God to change the hearts of those who are intent on
doing evil." 

Tippit says this time is a challenge to ministry. It's a time when the natural desire is to avenge
an attack. Tippit has been encouraging other Christians to follow the way
of Christ rather than continue to follow a downward spiral of revenge. 

The upside is, "When there is persecution, it doesn't
hurt the church: it strengthens the church. When believers are scattered, then
they plant churches in new locations, and the church
actually grows."

Pray that
Christians in Nigeria will demonstrate the love of Christ in spite of the
opposition they face.  

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