Our newest national ministry partner is an evangelical denomination in Nigeria comprised of 32 churches and 64 pastors and evangelists in one of the most dangerous places in the world for followers of Jesus.
Today there are roughly 183 million people living in Nigeria. Out of that population 89 million are identified as Christians. According to the World Watch List 2015 report released by Open Doors International, at least 4,344 Christians were killed and 1,062 Christian churches attacked from Nov. 1, 2013 to Oct. 31, 2014. It is estimated that 10 Christians are killed for their faith every day. You may be surprised to know that the number of Christians killed in 2014 was double that of the previous year. Nigeria ranked in the top ten worst persecuted countries in the world.
There is no doubt our Christian brothers and sisters living in Nigeria are facing one of the most violent and brutal periods of persecution in history. The Islamic terror group Boko Haram continues to terrorize the region as they seek to establish an Islamic caliphate in Nigeria, across Africa, and then the world. The driving goal of their depraved campaign is to purge the nations of non-Muslims and western influence — and their biggest target is disciples of Jesus Christ.
This is the environment and atmosphere in which our partner churches are sowing seeds of the Gospel. 19 out of the 32 churches are located in northeastern Nigeria, where Boko Haram is strongest and is carrying out horrific acts of persecution on Christians. Through reliance on the mighty power availed to us in Christ, these churches are equipping and training pastors and evangelists to minister to the Body of Christ and to reach the lost at a time of critical need. This denomination of churches is overseen by a council of ministers whose leader personally shepherds one of the congregations.
The leader of the council realizes the physical threat believers face each time they gather on Sunday, yet he witnesses that they will not stop coming to worship Jesus and entering into the House of the Lord. He shared recently, “They ask themselves, “Will this be my last day on earth, as I go to worship God? That is the situation Christians here are facing. To proclaim: I am not scared of anyone who can kill this flesh, because they cannot touch my spirit. We go to visit the churches that are in turmoil, even though we are at risk of being killed. We go to them to encourage them, not to become weary or scared. When they see us, the congregations, they feel revived. So, we have no doubt that our Savior is there for us at all times.”
In the first three months of 2015, eight members of this group of churches were martyred – literally burned alive – and one evangelist was martyred in a drive-by shooting (all at the hand of Boko Haram) leaving 24 children missing at least one parent.
Please hold up our brothers and sisters in Nigeria in prayer, and especially the families of the martyrs there.