The Need for God’s Word
Miriam and her husband had just finished their evening prayers and turned in for the night when members of the terrorist group al-Shabaab broke into their home in Kenya. The extremists beheaded Miriam’s husband and then tried unsuccessfully to force her and her daughter to convert to Islam. Though Miriam and the rest of her family managed to escape, the terrorists stole their livestock and burned their home. During the attack, Miriam drew strength and comfort from Isaiah 54:17 — “No weapon formed against you shall prosper.”
When Christians are confronted by Islamic extremists in Kenya, Nigeria, Burkina Faso and elsewhere, God’s Word provides strength and comfort.
Restoring Hope and Refuge
Blessing Andrawus was heartbroken when she learned that her father had been shot to death by militant Fulani Muslims while conducting an evangelistic outreach in a neighbouring Nigerian village. The 22-year-old considered him not only a good dad but also “a very good friend”. None of her friends seemed to understand her pain, but over time she found comfort and healing through her faith in Christ. “I have a friend,” she said, “a very good friend, and that’s Jesus. He’s the only shoulder I can cry on. He will never disappoint me.” Militant Fulani Muslims in Nigeria often target Christians’ homes. They burned Ta’azia’s home when they attacked her village. Ta’azia has been able to stay in her burned home, but thousands of others have been forced to take refuge in camps designated for internally displaced people.
A Faithful God amid Great Loss
Sarah Pam has experienced great loss at the hands of militant Fulani Muslims in Nigeria. The extremists killed her husband during an attack on their village, leaving her children fatherless. Years later, they attacked the village again, killing one of her sons. Displaced from her land, Sarah now provides for her family by farming on borrowed land. She also leads the women’s ministry at her church, encouraging women to put their faith in God. Despite all she has lost, Sarah has forgiven her family members’ killers. “In all the difficulties, in all the problems I have been through, God has been faithful to me,” she said.
Attacks on Christians have left thousands of women in Nigeria without husbands and homes. Like Sarah, many express great joy in knowing the global body of Christ is praying for them and helping meet their needs.
Equipping Labourers for the Harvest
Few Christian workers venture into this area of Kenya, where the nomadic people are deeply rooted in a traditional culture that is mostly opposed to the gospel. Recently, however, front-line workers have distributed Care Packs — including a copy of the Bible with each pack — to children and have provided evangelism and discipleship training for 200 youth. As a result, some young people have been encouraged to continue their biblical studies and to serve as front-line workers themselves. “Pray the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into His harvest.” Matthew 9:38
Growing Radicalism, Growing Outreach
The radicalisation of Muslim populations has affected African countries like the Central African Republic, Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Uganda, where little persecution or terrorism had previously existed. But with great foresight, front-line workers are taking action. Churches in Uganda have implemented a strategy to advance the gospel despite ongoing persecution: they use apologetics and Christian literature to teach foundational truths needed to combat radical Islam, they train church members to proclaim the gospel effectively in an Islamic context, and they teach local pastors how to care for Christian converts from Islam who have been rejected by their families.
The Deep Wounds of War
Itoro and his family were hiding in their church in the Central African Republic (CAR) when rebels entered the building and killed his wife, two children and brother. In the chaos, Itoro managed to escape, but his family members’ murders continued to replay in his mind until he eventually received help in healing from the trauma. “My thoughts and orientation in life are towards God and the cross of Jesus,” he said. “In my heart, I have been able to forgive those perpetrators totally. I now help other people in the church who have been traumatised.”
In African nations like the CAR, which is embroiled in a civil war, Christian families and pastors are targeted and displaced because of their Christian witness. Front-line workers respond by providing material aid and other forms of assistance to encourage our persecuted brothers and sisters during their time of great need.
To Every Nation … and Village
Sani, from Niger, first heard the gospel when front-line workers showed The Jesus Film in his village. When he and other villagers became Christians, Muslim leaders tried to persuade them to stop following Christ. But Sani was undeterred. “My family and I will follow Christ,” he told them. Sani remained faithful when the Muslim leaders continued their threats, isolated Sani and the other new believers from the community and even beat them. “We keep on sharing the gospel,” he said.
New Christians in African countries like Niger, Sierra Leone and Benin are often shunned and persecuted by family members, fellow villagers and sometimes Islamists. Like Sani, they are determined to follow Christ at any cost.
Standing Stronger on the Frontlines
“I have decided to follow Jesus; no turning back, no turning back.”
The words of the familiar hymn drifted through the air as Christians in a remote part of Sierra Leone sang and held their new Bibles. They had just made a public declaration of their faith through baptism, and many had paid dearly for following Christ. In another village, front-line workers baptised more than 120 new believers, some of whom had walked more than 25km to receive baptism. They, too, received new Bibles. One front-line worker marvelled at how God is working in that unreached area — an area where human and child sacrifices are practised.
Christians throughout Africa know their faith in Jesus Christ may be tested by fire and machete. The world is behind them, and the cross is before them.
“We are standing stronger, knowing that even if we are being persecuted or oppressed, God is still in control!” — Pastor in the Democratic Republic of the Congo