Nigeria (MNN) — Alice Nderitu, the UN Special Adviser on the Prevention of Genocide, recently sounded the alarm on the worsening security situation in Nigeria.
The conversation put an important spotlight on an increasingly dangerous region, with a rise in attacks on Christians and religious minorities from radical Islamic groups like Boko Haram and Fulani herdsmen.
Following the United States’ move to pull Nigeria from its Countries of Particular Concern list, there are concerns that not enough world leaders recognize the ongoing threats to minorities in Nigeria.
Greg Kelley with World Mission says, “It ultimately comes down to power and the issue of Islam, quite honestly, wanting to take over Africa. As the leaders of the Islamic entities — Boko Haram, the Fulani herdsman — they are incredibly aggressive.
“Nigeria is the center of the bullseye. It is the most influential country in the entire continent of Africa — 218 million people, more than any other country by nearly 100 million people. So if Nigeria becomes a primarily Muslim country, then they believe there’ll be a cascade effect that surrounds it.”
The stakes are high for Nigeria’s presidential election coming up February 25. The top two contenders are Muslim, although they both have verbally committed to upholding religious freedom in the country.
Following a victory, time will tell how the next president of Nigeria will approach Islamic extremists, especially in the north.
“This election is incredibly important on both sides, and I think that the uprise of chaos that’s going on right now is a reflection of just how desperate they are to maintain Islamic control of Nigeria,” says Kelley.
“The greatest frustration for Christians in Nigeria is a lack of accountability. You have village after village being sacked, being taken over, being destroyed, people being executed, women being sexually abused; it’s just been horrific and there’s been zero accountability. So I think the only thing that’s going to happen is a change in the country’s direction.
“If a moderate Muslim comes in,… I don’t think they have the courage to stand up against the Muslim leaders in that country and hold the Fulani accountable for example, or hold the Hausa people group where Boko Haram comes out of accountable.”
World Mission’s goal is to saturate Nigeria with the Gospel, especially in the darkest and most dangerous places.
“We literally are going into the northern part of Nigeria where, if Boko Haram leaders [or] Fulani herdsmen expose our leaders, a lot of times their homes are destroyed, they’re kicked out, or worse. We’ve had people we work with in Nigeria killed for the sake of sharing the Gospel,” Kelley says.
“The amazing thing is when you ask them, ‘Hey, how can we pray for you?’ it’s not, ‘Help us find a new home. Help us relocate.’ They say, ‘Pray that we would have courage and boldness to go into these dark places and share the Gospel with, yes, even our enemy.’
“That is the secret to Nigeria. We have to get the Gospel into northern Nigeria.”
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Header photo courtesy of World Mission.