Growing Persecution of Christians in Nigeria
September 6, 2011
SANTA ANA, Calif., (christiansunite.com) -- Muslim extremists, along with members of the Nigerian army, allegedly killed 24 Christians during mid-August in Nigeria's Plateau state. On Monday in the city of Jos, CNN reported clashes between Muslims and Christians resulted in at least 20 deaths. There were also reports of injuries and burnt vehicles and shops.
Christians in Nigeria have faced increased persecution in recent years. The forceful implementation of Sharia (Islamic law) in 12 northern states remains a great challenge for the church. Extremist Islamic groups, using violence as a means to achieving Muslim dominance, have increased their activities. Despite all of the violence, more churches are reaching Muslims with the gospel and the number deciding to follow Christ is increasing.
"As our brothers and sisters in Nigeria face increased persecution, it is vital that we pray for them," says Open Doors USA President/CEO Dr. Carl Moeller. "Christians, especially those living in the north, are living in constant fear of being attacked by extremists; they are not able to worship in peace."
Northern Nigeria holds the No. 23 spot on Open Door's 2011 World Watch List of 50 countries where Christians face the most severe persecution. Christians in the conflict areas of Nigeria request prayer above anything else.
Please pray for:
Comfort for Christians who have lost loved ones or have been made homeless through violence
Thank God that the church is becoming more united as a result of persecution
Wisdom and courage for church leaders reaching out to their Muslim neighbors and caring for converts.
Nigerian Christians are hardly the only believers facing persecution. Over 70 percent of the world's 6.8 billion people live in countries with restrictions on religion.
Nov. 13 is the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church (IDOP) in the United States. This year Open Doors USA is encouraging Christians in the West to be "One With Them" through a special on-going campaign.
"According to the Bible, when one part of the body suffers, we all suffer," says Kenny Luck, founder of Every Man Ministries. "This is why it is so important for us to be One With Them in prayer."
One With Them is a call to action to unite with persecuted believers, not just on IDOP but during the months leading up to that special day. Through prayer and advocacy, Christians in the United States are urged to join millions who share our faith but not our freedom.
One way Christians in the United States can show their support for the persecuted is through One With Them wristbands. Wearing the black, flexible silicone wristband that looks like barbed wire is a great conversation starter. The wristbands provide an opportunity to explain to others about the plight of persecuted believers. Kenny Luck says he is wearing a wristband as a show of solidarity. In the last month, 25,000 wristbands have been sent out to churches, church leaders, small groups and individuals.
To order the wristbands, visit www.OneWithThem.com. Two of them will be free of charge -- one extra to share with a friend. Additional wristbands can be ordered for a fee with 100 percent of the funds going to support persecuted Christians.
As one of the lead agencies promoting the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church, Open Doors is focusing on providing materials for Christians to use for the Nov. 13 event that will be observed by millions of Christians in the United States and around the globe. Materials in the free online kit include bulletin inserts, a pastor's guide, videos, prayer points, testimonies from persecuted Christians, Bible passages on persecution and lessons learned from suffering believers.
An estimated 100 million Christians worldwide suffer interrogation, arrest and even death for their faith in Christ, with millions more facing discrimination and alienation. Open Doors supports and strengthens believers in the world's most difficult areas through Bible and Christian literature distribution, leadership training and assistance, Christian community development, prayer and presence ministry and advocacy on behalf of suffering believers. To partner with Open Doors USA, call toll free at 888-5-BIBLE-5 (888-524-2535) or go to their Website at www.OpenDoorsUSA.org.