Nigerian Muslims attack Christians
In early August, Muslims belonging to the fanatical Islamic sect called Boko Haram attacked police in several cities and towns in Nigeria, especially at Maiduguri in the northeastern state of Borno.
These attacks were met with a strong police response, including, it is alleged, the extrajudicial killing of the leader of the sect, Mohammed Yusuf.
Christians also came under direct attack during the violence, especially in Maiduguri where they suffered serious losses. According to the Christian Association of Nigeria, thirty churches have been destroyed (twenty-seven in Maiduguri metropolis and three outside the city). And, among other casualties, three pastors were brutally murdered.
One of the murdered pastors, Rev. Sabo Yakubu, was a graduate of the Theological College of Northern Nigeria (TCNN) and a minister of the Church of Christ in Nigeria (COCIN). The COCIN has about 3000 congregations spread throughout the 26 Nigerian states and an estimated 3-4 million members.
Another martyred was Rev. Daniel Orjih. He was once considering further study at TCNN.
These godly men came through the ultimate test with amazing courage and triumphant faith and have now passed into glory. Before you read extracts from the Nigerian newspaper Daily Sun’s report below (in which the two quoted pastors are both TCIN students), let me urge you to pray for Nigerian Christians to be comforted by God’s sovereignty and love.
Pray that we may have courage and faith in the face of persecution and love our enemies. The Daily Sun carried these eyewitness accounts of the martyrdoms.
‘The pastors alongside one Ibo man were asked to change their faith to Islam like they did to other people taken as hostages. I think there was an argument by one of the pastors which gave the others some level of confidence to also resist accepting Islam.
‘The Yusufiya men, who were armed on that Tuesday afternoon, were not comfortable with the pastors and they took one of them to the sect leader in his inner chamber. They came out later to the courtyard within the compound and cut their heads one after the other and thereafter, shouted “Allah Akbar” in wild celebration accompanied with several gun shots’.
Rev. Baba Gata Ibrahim of Good News Church, Wulari Maiduguri, said that Pastor George Orjih was beheaded on the instruction of the Boko Haram leader because the clergyman refused to accept Islam.
‘Another eyewitness … told us they were persuading him to accept Islam and he said “over his dead body”. He was even said to have preached Christ to Mohammed Yusuf and that reportedly angered the sect leader, as he then ordered that the pastor and others be killed immediately’.
George Orjih was said to have arrived in Maiduguri last week from Jos where he was doing his Masters programme in theology. ‘He was mindful of his family and their welfare. He was really out of the house but thought to go back again. That was how he was captured by the Boko Haram before he was killed’.
Preaching during the funeral of Sabo Yakubu, the slain COCIN pastor, Rev. Bulus Azi urged Christians to emulate the pastors who were killed because of their refusal to betray their faith. Quoting from Revelation 7:9-15, he told Christians to prepare to die any time, as their calling demanded’.