Thousands flee bloody Nigerian clashes.

By May 4, 2004

Nigeria (MNN)–The International Red Cross says last week’s skirmishes between ethnic and political groups in central Nigeria have left more than 1,000 wounded and at least one hundred dead.

The last three months have seen the bloodiest fighting in the region since the Plateau state capital, Jos, was torn apart by ethnic violence in 2001 that killed 1,000 people.

The clash is part ethnic feud, part political unrest, and part sectarian conflict. SIM’s International Director, Malcolm MacGregor says their teams keep close watch on the conditions. “It does mean that, as problems arise, our missionaries are in situations where they may get caught up in riots, they may be targeted in different ways because of why they’re there. Like any good organization in these situations, we obviously look at all these contingencies, and try to plan carefully for them.”

All SIM missionaries in Nigeria entered a new role of partnership with ECWA. SIM missionaries help to train Nigerian leadership as well as aid in the task of reaching Nigerians with the Gospel.

In spite of the current unrest, MacGregor believes ministry has a great future in Nigeria. “I believe it is one of the most unique countries in the world today because it exists on this fault-line between Christianity and Islam, and because also, there’s a strong church in that nation who are really wanting to see God’s purposes accomplished.”

ECWA churches are growing rapidly throughout Nigeria, especially in the central regions where some churches have experienced as much as 400% growth in the last 10-15 years.

Even churches in the strong Islamic centers are growing steadily. Currently more than 5,000 congregations can be counted with an estimated attendance of over three million.

ECWA also runs 8 Seminaries or Bible colleges and 15 theological training institutes. Many churches have a strong missionary vision and are seeking to reach Muslims and other unreached groups.

Needs exist for Scripture translation into various local languages and for educated pastors and church leaders who can meet the spiritual needs of an increasingly educated church body.

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