Recently, the Christian community in Nigeria at least came up with some measure of response to the perennial killing with impunity of Christians by so-called fundamentalist Moslems – who never seem to be in short supply! Following the latest wave of killings, the Boko Haram uprising, the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN) successfully put together a well-publicised and befitting Service of Songs (on Thursday Sept 10) in the memory of Christian pastors brutally killed, cold blooded, in the latest adventure by the Jihadists. The service held simultaneously in Abuja and in London.
Although several Christians were unfortunately caught in the crossfire, the Boko Haram incident could actually be seen as God instigating the fighting force of militant Islam in Nigeria against their double-faced masters and sponsors – and exposing their ugly secrets. One surprising element of the Boko Haram movement is the wide spread of its membership, cutting across all strata of society – from highly placed public officers (including an ex-member of a state cabinet), former lecturers in institutions of higher learning, to thousands of street urchins.
On one hand, it was truly saddening, to read about scores of teenagers, brainwashed by the Boko Haram sect, pouring out like mindless robots, to be mowed down by the Nigerian military. Teenagers that could have contributed to the greatness of Nigeria were turned into vermins under the guise of Islamic education with active, even if informal, support of state governments. It is an open secret that the core of the Islamic killing machine deployed against Christians in many a religious crises in Northern Nigeria in recent times (eg Jos crises) has been recruited from Bauchi, well within Boko Haram catchment area. Even though the key leaders of the Boko Haram (including those who voluntarily turned in themselves) were summarily killed while in police custody, no doubt to protect the identity of their sponsors, no one could doubt the involvement of key state government officials - at the topmost levels. Akin to the report in the last edition of CA!, of Talibans buying children in Pakistan to be recruited as suicide bombers, the story of Boko Haram is no less pathetic. As is usual for any case involving Islam however, none of the usually vocal “Child Rights” advocacy NGOs seems to either have noticed the situation or find voice to ask for government investigations to address similar existing situations.
Nevertheless, several innocent Christians were caught in the crossfires between this Moslem killing machinery and their state sponsors. According to eye-witness accounts, in the face of stark terror, many nominal Christians hurriedly agreed to dump their “faith” for Islam in order to save their necks. (Many of them were killed nevertheless, either by the jihadists or soldiers’ stray bullets!). Thank God for those who like Shadrack, Meshack and Abednego, readily embraced the ultimate price, calmly preferring to be slaughtered rather than denounce their Lord. In this honorable group are Pastor Sabo Yakubu, of Church of Christ in Nigeria (COCIN), Reverend Sylvester O Akpan of National Evangelical Mission, and Reverend George Orji of Good News of Christ Church . The Lord providentially allowed some other faithful brethren to escape the Jihadist long knives, so that the world may learn of the faith and courage of our martyred brethren (Heb 12:35). The message sent by Rev George Orji through a co-captive, “[in case you make it out,] tell my people I died well” made the headlines all over the world. Details of some eye-witness accounts of the incident can be found at www.tribune.com.ng/07082009/features.html or at news.onlinenigeria.com/?a=6864. Delivering the sermon during the funeral rites for late Rev. Sabo Yakubu, COCIN Regional chairman, Rev Bulus Azi urged Christians to be prepared for death, anytime as their calling may demand.
The Christian community seems to have given up trying to get the Nigerian government to live up to its responsibility of protecting innocent citizens or compensating their losses in the hands of militant Islamists. In the Sept 10 event, the PFN rolled out the drums, according to its National Secretary, “to honor these Christian heroes and also draw international attention to the systemic problem that has led to the death of adherents of Christian faith in Northern Nigeria.” In his message, National President of the PFN, Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, urged the congregation not to mourn the Christians who died in the crisis as the service was a celebration in the hope of Christ. He later led other Christian leaders in giving personal donations in cash and kind to the families of the slain pastors – in addition to corporate gifts by the Fellowship. Read an account at http://www.ngrguardiannews.com/sunday_magazine/article05//indexn3_html?pdate=130909&ptitle=Boko%20Haram:%20Christian%20Body%20Brings%20Hope,%20Succour%20To%20Victims%27%20Families&cpdate=180909