Thousands fled for their lives as Boko Haram militants launched a five-hour attack on the town of Garkida in Nigeria’s Adamawa state.
The attack on the mainly Christian town began at 7pm on Friday when hordes of extremists arrived by truck and motorbike. They ransacked houses and set them alight, as well as burning down three churches and several public buildings.
Local Christians said that reports of an impending attack reached the town early on Friday afternoon after extremists were spotted in nearby Chibok. But military personnel stationed near Garkida failed to respond until the attack had begun – and the violence lasted for hours.
A number of Christians were reportedly abducted and others wounded, but precise figures are not yet known. Some reports say a soldier was killed.
Sources: Morning Star News, Release International
- Ask God to comfort and provide for all those affected by the Garkida attack. Remember those who are missing.
- Pray God will provide new premises for the Church of the Brethren, the Anglican Church and the Living Faith Church which were destroyed in the raid.
- Continue to pray for wisdom, courage and firm resolve for those in authority charged with ending the bloodshed in Nigeria.
Post your prayer in the comments below.
Weeks before his wife’s death, James had a casual discussion with her about whether either of them would remarry if the other died. James told her he wanted to die first so their two daughters would have a mother to care for them, and his wife, Mary, teased him by saying she would remarry. But then she grew more serious, telling him she had a sense that she would die first. James didn’t think much of the conversation until later, when Mary was killed in an attack on their Christian village in central Nigeria.
James was in the city donating blood at a hospital on the day of the attack. When he called home around noon, Mary told him not to come home because they had heard gunshots in a nearby community and she wanted him to avoid travelling through an area of conflict.
She was not yet aware that Fulani Islamic militants were attacking the entire region of Barkin Ladi, outside Jos. Beginning at 7am on Saturday 23 June 2018, the heavily armed militants swept through the area, using plastic garden sprayers to shower houses with petrol before setting them alight. Mary called James in the early afternoon, crying and telling him the attackers had entered their village.
Mary gathered their two-year-old daughter, Melody, in her arms and ran with their six-year-old daughter, Marvelous, for the safety of the surrounding bush. But they immediately encountered militants. Marvelous was hit on the head and knocked unconscious, while Melody was shot in the stomach. The bullet passed through Melody’s body and lodged in her mother’s chest, killing Mary instantly. The girls lay near their mother’s body through the afternoon, until someone found them.
James heard nothing until the next morning when his sister called to tell him that Mary had been killed but their two daughters had survived.
He immediately rushed to the hospital to be with Melody, who was being taken into surgery. He stayed in the hospital with her for two months while she underwent two surgeries to repair her intestines.
James even missed his wife’s funeral, as the 86 people killed in the Barkin Ladi massacre received a hasty mass burial under the protection of Nigerian security forces. James was filled with grief and questions.
“If I’d known I would be a widower at age 29, would I even have gotten married? Why did the God we serve allow this to happen to us? Why me?”
While many women have lost husbands in the violence in northern Nigeria, it is less common for men to lose their wives. Islamic militants usually target men because they know men are often a family’s sole source of support. In this attack, however, James said he knows of five other men who lost their wives. One of the men lost 11 family members.
James is thankful he still has his daughters and his parents who help care for the girls while he works.
James’s grief was compounded by also losing his home. He and his family lived in a camp for displaced people for eight months, but they still could not return home. The neighbouring Fulani who had attacked the village, moved into the remaining homes and took the land.
James’s older daughter, Marvelous, later told him that the man who killed her mother used to visit their house and eat dinner with them. “He was one of the men who took Mummy to see Jesus,” she said, naming the man. James also learned that the attackers had chanted, “Jihad is compulsory” and “We have killed the infidels!”
For many weeks, James was angered when he thought of the men who killed his wife. “I didn’t want to see them,”
As a Christian, he knew about persecution, but he never thought it would happen to him. He felt like his future had been stolen.
A short time before the attack, James had graduated from university with a degree in environmental health and had finished the two-year national service required of every graduate. Their farm had supported the family, and he had considered going back to university for a master’s degree in public health. With no land and two young girls to support on his own, James now works as a tin miner.
Housing prices in the city have risen sharply because of the influx of Christians displaced by militant attacks and, although James earns an income, he needs help to meet family expenses. Voice of the Martyrs has been assisting James with rent, school fees, clothing and medical care since January 2019.
In addition, he is also meeting with a specially trained VOM worker who functions somewhat like a social worker for the many persecuted believers VOM serves in Nigeria.
The worker meets weekly with each persecuted believer to check in on his or her progress, which has been a great help in moving traumatised people out of shock and into a place of self-sufficiency.
After several months in the programme, James’s outlook on life had brightened.
“I feel like I have people who care for me,” he said.
Being reminded that he is supported by his Christian family has restored his faith in God, and he says it is even stronger than before.
“God is good!” he told a VOM worker. “I feel I have a God, a living God who will never forsake me.”
He still finds it difficult to interact with the militant Fulani villagers who attacked his village and killed his wife, but he intentionally greeted them on a recent trip.
James still wonders why the Lord chose to take his wife and not him, but he sees God providing for him as needs arise. “I feel loved,” he told a VOM worker.
He asked for prayer for himself and his two daughters, Marvelous and Melody, as well as for all Nigerian Christians who have lost family members, homes and land.
“Pray that God will strengthen us and make us strong in our faith and provide for our desires,” he said, “because as it is now it’s like we don’t have a heritage, we don’t have a land.”
James and our other Nigerian brothers and sisters who have been scarred by this violence may have lost their loved ones and land, but they have not been lost to the Lord.
If you would like to financially support the work of Voice of the Martyrs, please go to: vom.com.au/donate
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A pastor who made headlines earlier this month for praising God in a ransom video has been executed by Boko Haram militants in Nigeria.
International human rights activists have condemned the killing of Rev Lawan Andimi, the chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria’s chapter in the Michika Local Government Area of Adamawa State.
Andimi was declared missing on 3 January following a raid by the Islamic extremist group in Michika. Video posted online appears to show Andimi being forced into a vehicle by his captors.
Days later, Andimi was seen in a video released by his captors calling on fellow Christian leaders and state government officials to secure his release. Despite the situation, Andimi said in the video that he was not discouraged because “all conditions that one finds himself is in the hand of God”.
“By the grace of God, I will be together with my wife and my children and all my colleagues,” he said. “If the opportunity has not been granted, maybe it is the will of God.”
On Monday, local sources disclosed to ministry partners in the United States that Andimi had been murdered.
Andimi’s denomination, the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria, confirmed the pastor’s death. The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) declared three days of prayer and fasting and condemned the “brutal murder” of Andimi as “a shame to the Nigerian government”.
CAN called for Nigerian Christians “to be calm” but challenged President Muhammadu Buhari and his national government “to be more proactive about effort to get rid of the continuous siege on Nigeria and end the wanton killings and destructions of lives and property.”
Sources: The Christian Post, Christianity Today
- Join with Christians throughout Nigeria and the world to uphold all those grieving for the loss of Rev Lawan Andimi.
- Thank the Lord for Rev Andimi’s extraordinary faithfulness. Pray his story may be used as a testimony to the power of the Gospel all over the world.
- Ask God to frustrate the plans of Islamic groups to cause harm. Pray for the conviction and revelation of many members, by the Holy Spirit.
Post your prayer in the comments below.
Boko Haram recently released a video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wIMrPQtvefc) that shows 11 Christians who were abducted by the militant group at the end of November, pleading for assistance from Christian groups and the Nigerian government.
Bwala and the 10 other captives are reportedly unsafe because of their Christian faith. They appealed to the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) to come and save them. Bwala also rebuked the federal government, saying that they had not done enough on behalf of the victims held by Boko Haram. He specifically cited that Leah Sharibu is with them and is still in custody, at least in part, because of the lack of action by the Nigerian government.
Source: International Christian Concern
- Intercede for Bitrus, Leah and the other captives and plead for their release.
- Pray the Lord’s presence may be daily felt by the captives so that their strength will be continually renewed as they wait.
- Pray for the Boko Haram members, that they will face fierce condemnation from their own consciences. Pray they may be brought to repentance and salvation.
Post your prayer in the comments below.
A Nigerian government official has claimed that Leah Sharibu, a Christian teen kidnapped by Boko Haram in 2018, is still alive. This comes more than a month after a Christian aid worker, also kidnapped by Boko Haram, indicated that Sharibu had been killed by her Boko Haram captors.
“Contrary to false reports, she [Leah] is alive, given assurances from our security agencies, and the government is committed to her safe return as well as all other hostages to their families,” Garba Shehu, a presidential spokesman told the media. “Instead of giving up, the government is carrying forward process that should hopefully yield her release by her captors.”
On 19 February 2018, Sharibu, age 16, was kidnapped by Boko Haram along with more than 100 other students from the Government Girls Science and Technical Secondary School in Dapchi, located in Nigeria’s Yobe state. The others kidnapped with Sharibu were released on 21 March 2018 after Boko Haram concluded negotiations with the government. However, Sharibu was not released because she refused to renounce her Christian faith.
In July 2019, Boko Haram released a video in which Grace Taku, a kidnapped Christian aid worker, mentioned that Sharibu and three other Christian women had been killed in captivity. In that video, Taku pleaded to have authorities intervene and secure her release.
“The government is pursuing many options to ensure the safe return of Leah Sharibu,” Shehu told the media. “The worrying cycle of speculations on whether Leah Sharibu had been harmed by her abductors is what has made us to speak out.”
Sources: Morning Star News, International Christian Concern
- Ask the Lord to intervene on behalf of Leah and other captives in Nigeria. Ask Him to be their rescuer.
- Pray the Lord will have mercy on the perpetrators, to bring about a miraculous change of heart, repentance and faith.
- Pray for the Nigerian authorities to expedite action to ensure her release.
Post your prayer in the comments below.