(Morning Star News) – Village leaders in eastern India prohibited five Christian families from working on their farms or walking on the main road before district authorities this month revoked the order, sources said.
Leaders of Banhardi village, in Jharkhand state’s Latehar District, told the five families in April to either convert back to their ancestral Sarna religion or face punishment, Christian leaders said. When the Christians refused to renounce their faith, the village on April 10 issued a decree instructing that their farmland be confiscated and prohibiting them from interacting with anyone, fetching water and buying or selling, they said.
Before district officials arrived on May 13 and annulled the April 10 decree, the Christians had to go outside the village to look for food and other items to meet daily needs and were on the verge of starvation, said Motilal Oraon, one of the persecuted Christians.
“We had to carry drinking water from some other village to our homes,” Oraon told Morning Star News. “They did not allow us to enter our own farmland or work in it. We went searching for work in somebody else’s farmland in a distant village, as we could not find work in our own village. Our families were starving.”
After District Collector Rajiv Kumar intervened and annulled the order, the villagers agreed to let the Christians receive government rations and water, but they said they will continue to refuse to associate with all who have converted to Christianity, area pastors said. The villagers also said that they will forbid any Christian preacher from entering the village.
Along with Motilal Oraon’s family, the other Christian families punished were those of Madhwari Oraon, Banarasi Oraon, Lukku Oraon and Rajesh Lohara.
Sarna, also called Saranaism, is recognized as the indigenous religion of Adivasi tribes in eastern India. All Banhardi villagers followed the Sarna tradition of their ancestors until one family put their faith in Christ eight years ago, said Asaf Surin, senior pastor of the main Believers Eastern Church in Bariatu Jagir, 12 miles away. Gradually, four other families followed, he said.
“These five families are the only Christian families in the village of about 500 homes, and they attend worship at a small fellowship belonging to the Believers Eastern Church,” Pastor Surin said. “The fellowship meets at the house of a Christian about a mile away from Banhardi in village Riche, jointly with five Christian families of Riche.”
Beneswar Oraon, pastor of an area Believers Eastern Church, said that retaliation to this extent was unprecedented.
“Initially there was no persecution until 2016, but then the villagers noticed the increase in the number of families turning to Christ,” Pastor Oraon told Morning Star News. “They got together and discussed their concern, saying that if they did not stop Christianity from spreading, the whole village will soon become Christian.”
More than 30 families attended the village meeting on April 10 in which they decreed that land owned by the Christians be confiscated and distributed among their non-Christian relatives; the Christians would not be invited to any marriage ceremony in the village or be allowed at any funeral; any villager found taking part in or attending any function in Christians homes would have to pay a fine of 1,000 rupees (US$14); and the Christians’ grocery ration card under the government distribution program, and all women’s self-help group memberships, would be cancelled.
“While the Christians where helplessly struggling to meet the basic needs of their families, Newswing [a local newspaper] published the news of this boycott, which then caught the attention of the authorities,” Pastor Surin said.
District Collector Kumar, along with an investigation team, reached the village on May 13 and initiated talks between both parties, the pastors said. He then ordered that all the local leaders’ decisions be annulled.
Sub-Divisional Police Officer Virendra Ram, who headed an investigating team, instructed the villagers to follow their own religion and let the five families practice their faith. Police also said that everyone could equally access government rations.
After the visit from the district authorities on May 13, the ration distributor approached the Christians on May 15 and insisted that they collect their share of the ration allotted for them.
“We are so delighted at the way God has heard our prayers,” Motilal Oraon said. “We got help even when we had approached nobody. God opened a way, and the authorities themselves walked inside our village and rescued us from starvation.”
Jharkhand’s population is 26.3 percent tribal, of which 14.5 percent follow Christianity, 39.8 percent Hinduism, 0.4 percent Islam and the rest other ancestral religions including Sarna, according to the 2001 census.
India is ranked 10th on Christian support organization Open Doors’ 2019 World Watch List of the countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian. The country was 31st in 2013, but its position has been worse each year since Narendra Modi of the Bharatiya Janata Party came to power in 2014.
Photo: Five families in village in Jharkhand state, India punished for becoming Christians. (Morning Star News)
(Voice of the Persecuted) Despite endless calls for the Nigerian government to do everything to secure the release Leah Sharibu, the girl who refused to denounce her Christian faith, will spend another birthday, May 14, in Boko Haram captivity.
Human Rights Lawyer, Emmanuel Ogebe, shared with Voice of the Persecuted an event at the prestigious Georgetown university in Washington, Nobel Literature Laureate Wole Soyinka paid a poignant tribute to heroine Christian Schoolgirl Leah Sharibu in an ode to Leah and Chibok last week.
Likening Leah to iconic human rights champion the late Nelson Mandela of South Africa, Soyinka said we must “celebrate the exception who said “no” “ as it reminded him of Mandela who refused conditional release.
Reciting the ode titled “Mandela comes to Leah”, Soyinka said, “ “No”, she said, “Faith is not of compulsion”…her torch undimmed in the den of zealots.”
Prof Soyinka said he could only recite excerpts from the ode because he broke down the last time he had tried to read it.
Prof Soyinka also did an epic takedown of a Georgetown professor’s claim that poverty and desperation was behind Boko Haram terrorism.
He said that it was ideological bordering on the metaphysical and we should not underestimate it. “We’re dealing with something much deeper” he said and recalled the son of a former Chief Justice of Nigeria who was upper middle class but who disappeared with his family to join ISIS abroad.
“There’s a will to deny the possibility of horror and evil. We have reached a point where We have to go beyond the material analysis of this phenomenon. It goes beyond poverty and marginalization. The ideology of sheer morbidity”
Soyinka deplored the 20 American intellectuals who wrote protesting the proposal to designate Boko Haram as a Foreign Terrorist Organization actually saying it would interfere with their “scholarly research” saying it “took my breath away”. “Some were my friends (but) there they were in all seriousness simply because they had a very wrong analytical approach to this problem.”
“We must simply jettison the language of political correctness. Political correctness is turning Africa continent into the graveyard of freedom and liberty if we don’t call things by their proper names…”
“We’re dealing now with the toxin of power which barely manifests itself under the cloak of religion.”
Also on the panel with Soyinka was the ambassador who belatedly announced Obama’s decision to designate Boko Haram as an FTO as then top US diplomat for Africa Assistant Secretary of State Linda Thomas Greenfield.
Greenfield pleaded impotency in responding to the Chibok abductions due to denials by many as to what happened which she said was her biggest challenge. “I had this feeling of impotency – a superpower who couldn’t do anything…I still feel it…there’s no more frustration to be in and I felt frustrated.” She also mentioned a recent attack in Nigeria where girls were taken the previous week.
Ambassador Greenfield paid tribute to some of the girls whom she had met as being strong saying she herself was traumatized just watching the drama “Chibok: Our Story” which preceded the panel discussion.
International human rights lawyer Emmanuel Ogebe who led the successful advocacy effort to designate Boko Haram as a Foreign Terrorist Organization thanked the cast and producer/playwright of “Chibok:Our Story” Wole Oguntokun for giving voice to the Chibok situation despite efforts of the government to silence the advocacy.
He mentioned the sad news that Leah’s 16th birthday was coming up in captivity on May 14 and the good news that one of the escaped Chibok girls he brought to school in the US was graduating with an associate degree in science the same week.
While stating that he forgave ambassador Greenfield for the Obama administration’s delay in designating Boko Haram as a Foreign Terrorist Organization because she delivered the good news, Ogebe noted that the Chibok girl graduated from college without one dime of US government support in the past 5 years. “We can’t bring back the girls but we can all do something,” he added.
Ogebe and Ambassador Greenfield had testified together before the US Congress on the day the FTO designation was announced – she represented the Obama administration while Ogebe and a Boko Haram victim represented civil society https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/CHRG-113hhrg85552/html/CHRG-113hhrg85552.htm
The panel event was part of the Currents Festival at Georgetown University where the Chibok play which has performed in Nigeria and Rwanda made its US debut to rave reviews. Wole Oguntokun the acclaimed producer/playwright is a protégée of Soyinka.
1. Abuja – National Christian Centre, CAN Hqts Abuja and the Unity Fountain Park
Time: 9am – 12noon
2. Jos – ECWA Hqts Church – Time 12noon -3:00pm
3. Lagos: Realm of Glory Hqts Church
Off Dibor Street, Okota-Isolo, Lagos
YOLA AND PORTHARCOURT NOW ADDED
With also now have two additional Cities:
4. Yola – Unity Chapel.
Adasolid Estate, Opp. FRSC, Numan Road, Kofare.
Jimeta – Yola
Pastor Zidon: 08081919000
5. Port Harcourt –
Date: Mon 13th
@ Cornerstone Christian Foundation, Manila Pepple St by JAMB office off Fruit Market, D/Line, Port Harcourt. 5pm.
Contact: Sis Carol 08081739960
6. London UK Please join us to pray and protest from May 14, 2019 1-1:30pm, the address is: 9 Northumberland Ave, Westminster, London WC2N 5BX. Nigerian High Commission. CSW
7. Washington USA – Leah Birthday Cake-cutting commemoration Hart Senate Building, Capitol Hill May 14, 2019 (firstname.lastname@example.org) AUP & USNLG
8. Washington US – Radio Ogebe’s tribute to Leah on WAVA 105.1 FM at 5:30pm EST Monday May 13 2019 listen live online at http://player.listenlive.co/57651/en
Ogebe encourages people to post and share Leah’s photographs as their temporary profile picture for a day.
VOP Note: Leah has stood for Christ for 449 days. Please continue to pray for her and all others in captivity for their faith.
(Morning Star News) – Yusuf Tulo and his sizeable family were worshiping in their home in eastern Uganda on April 28 when they heard their neighbors shouting, “Fire!”
Tulo, 35, had left Islam to put his faith in Christ last October. He still had three wives and 14 children dependent on him living on a homestead with more than one house in Bugwere village, and the house they used for worship was on fire.
When they went outside, however, something was not right; among neighbors standing around the house looking at the smoke, one said, “Please remain indoors – your lives are in danger.”
Tulo had been receiving threatening messages from Muslims for months, but faced with the danger of smoke coming from the house, he chose to remain outside. An hour later, the roof collapsed in flames and the house was charred.
“We lost everything in that house: beddings, clothing, books, documents and other household belongings worth more than $1,000,” Tulo told Morning Star News.
The village is in Kitantalo parish, Tirinyi Sub-County of Kibuku District, and Tirinyi police arrived at the scene an hour later.
Since then the family has been living with friends and neighbors – in intense fear for their lives, he said. Among the threats he has received, one text message read, “The burning of the house was just warning. If you continue hardening your hearts and fail to return to Islam, then expect a worst thing that you have never seen before,” he said.
“We thank God that no one was physically hurt but emotionally are very hurt as we continue receiving threatening messages warning us of a possible attack,” Tulo said. “The pressure from the extended family and radical Muslims is really troubling my family, and we cannot risk going back to our houses.”
Muslim extremists began throwing stones at their houses at night soon after the family embraced Christ and started attending a Pentecostal church in a nearby village. He began receiving threatening messages in January from radical Muslims who also have confronted family members on several occasions, he said.
Muslim villagers and the imam of the Bugwere mosque have insulted them verbally, with one villager saying in February, “If you do not come back to Islam, then expect something unusual to befall your family,” he said.
“Since then my family became vigilant, and we even hired a guard to take care of the family during the night, but the stone-throwing continued in one of the houses while the guard was on patrol on the other side of the homestead,” Tulo told Morning Star News.
The family requested financial assistance and prayer.
“We sincerely need prayers and financial support,” Tulo said. “My family is scattered, and the children are unable to go to school. We gave our lives to Jesus and here we are living a troubled, restless life. The law should bring these perpetrators to book.”
The attacks were the latest of many cases of persecution of Christians in eastern Uganda that Morning Star News has documented.
Uganda’s constitution and other laws provide for religious freedom, including the right to propagate one’s faith and convert from one faith to another.
Muslims make up no more than 12 percent of Uganda’s population, but with high concentrations in eastern areas of the country.
Photo: Charred home of Yusuf Tulo in Bugwere village, Kibuku District, eastern Uganda. (Morning Star News)
NIGER – Priest wounded in Catholic parish attacked, Sahel Christian communities increasingly at risk
Niger: On May 13, unidentified people attacked the parish of Dolbel, belonging to the diocese of Niamey, which is located about 200 km from Niamey, in the Songhay-Zerma area.
The parish priest, Fr. Nicaise Avlouké, was wounded in one hand and leg, and is a guest in the military camp. Missionary sources told Agenzia Fides,
“There have long been ‘rumors’ of possible attacks on the parish and priests in particular. This last fact only confirms the deterioration of the security situation in the border area with Burkina Faso.”
The defense forces appear little prepared for this new stage of Sahelian terrorism”. In Niger there is still no news of Fr. Pier Luigi Maccalli, the SMA missionary abducted in Niger on the night between 17 and 18 September 2018.
(Voice of the Persecuted) ASIA IS FREE!
Dawn News reports that Asia Bibi is free, has left the country and traveled on her independent will.
After nine years on death row, Asia Bibi was acquitted of blasphemy by Pakistan’s Supreme Court on October 31, 2018. Following widespread Islamic hardliner protests and death threats, she was released from Multan women’s prison on November 7th and flown to Islamabad to an undisclosed location amid tight security.
Khadim Hussain Rizvi, leader of the Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) who is also a radical cleric, instigated country-wide protests following the high court ruling and demanded she be hung. The protests halted daily life in major cities throughout Pakistan. Schools, shops and businesses were forced to close. The group also called for the murder of the Supreme Court judges.
Authorities began a nationwide crackdown and arrested the radical leader and over 1000 other leaders and supporters of the Islamist party to end the radical protests. The cleric’s arrest ignited violent clashes with police and injuries were reported.
After 9 years of affliction for her faith in Christ, repeated death threats and living under protective custody since November, Pakistani government officials have confirmed she has left for Canada.
The Guardian quoted her Muslim lawyer, Saif Ul Malook,
“It is a big day. Asia Bibi has left Pakistan and reached Canada. She has reunited with her family. Justice has been dispensed.”
He said that Bibi’s safe arrival in Canada was the result of hard work by activists, foreign diplomats and others who stood by her in hard times and worked for her freedom.
Click here to read how Saif Ul Malook’s described Asia’s amazing faith, strength and a dream she shared with him. Be encouraged!
From the time Malook agreed to defend Asia, his life has been constantly under threat. He was forced to flee Pakistan for the Netherlands in December 2018.
Asia is finally free to be reunited with her family, heal from the horrible injustice against her and worship freely. Let us praise the LORD for this outcome and pray no harm will come against her or her family. Rest in HIS arms, dear Asia. Please keep our Pakistani brothers and sisters in your prayers.
Voice of the Persecuted (VOP) By our Nigerian Correspondent — Boko Haram has been carrying out vicious attacks against Christians communities mainly in the southern part of Borno State and northern Adamawa State. Christians constitute 85% of the population in these areas. Scores of victims and eyes witnesses spoke with VOP’s Nigerian Correspondence who recounted that the latest attacks as aimed at destroying Christian communities.
According to some of the IDP (internally displace people) camp officials, there are over 4,000 Christians in an unofficial internally displaced camp in Lassa from 17 Christian communities in Borno and Adamawa States. These communities include, Bdagu, Ngurhengwal, Yaza, Kwang, Multafu, Pambam, Emmi, Kelekasa, Shawa, Maikdadri, Kummaza, Nkirvu, Yaffa, Huyum, Bagajaw, Izge and Wassada. Residents are predominately Christian who are members of Church of Brethren in Nigeria (EYN), ECWA, Redeemed Church of God, and the Catholic Church. “We have nowhere to go”, a witness said.
These communities depend on seasonal farming as a major means of income, while others rear animals, sell craft work or petty trading for survival. They’ve suffered perpetual attacks with great losses, including their homes, from the Boko Haram since 2013. Many have been gunned down, slaughtered and abducted since the Islamic militants began terrorizing the region.
Fleeing residents and Christian leaders are extremely concerned with the rise of recent attacks by the armed group. Within a week, the militants raided, Kuda-Kaya, Diambo, Makalama, Yimirali-Autlha, Yimirali-Barka, Yimira Kopa, Gatamarwa,- Maik-dadri and Multafu villages killing scores of people, took their food and belongings then set their homes ablaze.
Interview with residents of 2 Christian communities recently attacked:
Maikadiri Village Attack:
Those from Maikadiri are predominantly farmers with over 70% Christians who worship with denominations such as Church of Brethren in Nigeria (EYN), Deeper Life Bible Church (DLBC) and Catholic Assemblies. The village is located in the Uba Local Government Area of Borno State.
Boko Haram attacked Maikadiri village on March 18, 2019. They went through along Lassa settlements killing 2 people and abducted many others on their way back to hideouts in the Sambisa Forest.
One eye witness who narrowly escaped shared his experience with our correspondent.
“Using a robe, they tied my hands behind my back and killed the two others in front of me. Once they identify you as Christian, they don’t waste time and butcher you with knife”, he added. Their attention was drawn from me when the Lassa security forces started shooting from afar. I quickly crawled on my stomach for some distance then ran into a bush and escaped.
A church leader who spoke with VOP’s correspondent commended the effort of the Lassa security forces who ambushed the insurgents. They exchanged fire with the militants and many of the Boko Haram members were killed. The security force also seized 3 of their cars and 5 motorcycles.
After the military left the community, the Boko Haram returned for a revenge mission on March 26, 2019. They assumed the villagers collaborated with the military to ambush them, so they burned down the entire village. The community members lost everything they owned. It was also dangerous for them to stay within the region without military protection. With no other choice, they moved to the unofficial IDP camp as a result of the dire security challenges.
On March 22, 2019, an armed group of Boko Haram rode into Multafu village on motorcycles and bicycles around 7p.m.and started shooting. Two Christians were killed in the presence of their family members.
A villager told Voice of the Persecuted, “They went straight to the Church of Brethren of Nigeria (EYN) and burned it to ashes while chanting “Allahu Akbar.” They also looted food then burned down 7 Christian homes.
During the attack the insurgents caught a fleeing woman with her 2 daughters. They let her to go but started to leave with her daughters. The woman quickly made up a story and claimed that one of her daughters was married. Not wanting any married women, they left the one thought to be married and sadly abducted the other one. One victim told VOP that the Boko Haram used the abducted girl’s mobile phone after they left. The caller stated, “We are coming back to take more girls, food and burn the houses.”
After hours of operations, the militants looted food items and left at their own convenience. Security forces within area refused to respond even when they were called at the beginning of the attack. “We no longer have hope in the security forces, we knew they would never come,” said a community leader.
Unfortunately, on March 24, 2019,the Boko Haram came again as promised. With the cover of night and no security forces around to repel the attack, they traveled through the same towards the village. They interrupted church services taking place, killed 3 men and set the whole village on fire. Witnesses claim they did their operations calmly and stayed in the village for some days.
“We thought the insurgents had left, so we went back to the village to bury our dead. To our surprised, they were still in the village waiting to ambush us on our return,” said a witness.
“I have told security forces several times, but they refused to show up” a clergyman shared. They took up courage with the help of a vigilante group and a few security forces to retrieve the bodies of the murdered members of the community. The militants engaged them and after much pressure, they were finally able to gather the remains and bury them.
Analysis of Security Challenges
- Since the displacement of people beginning with Boko Haram attacks in 2013, victims have been battling with insecurity in their region. The security formations and installations have proven to not be enough for both Adamawa and Borno states.
- Security forces don’t respond to attacks in adequate time and in some instances don’t respond at all.
- Residents have been forced and often encouraged by local government to form their own vigilante groups to protect their communities.
- In 2017, when they wanted to regain their communities from the Boko Haram. They selected community members as delegates to approach the Borno State government to help with a security installation to liberate their communities. The government refused to act.
- Residents met with the former Caretaker Chairman, House of Assembly member and political stakeholders but VOP was told, “They deceived us by saying they would look into the matter but then deliberately refused. A community member said, “We believe the inaction occurred because we are a Christian community.” Later, they and concluded to hire the service of a local vigilante group to partner with their Christian youth to liberate their communities. “We had initial meetings with Muslims including Fulani herdsmen within the community, but to our dismay they betrayed us by withdrawing from the process.” We contributed between (N1000 –N2000) per household and called on some of our brethren based in the cities to send their contributions as well. We gathered around N700, 000 and approached the Vigilante leader at Gombi Village.
- In that same week, a government delegation from Yobe State came to the same vigilante leader for the same job. Out of sympathy, he agreed to our request and decided to offer 30 trained vigilantes to be paid every month at a sum of N30, 000 each.
- They stayed for 3 months and we spent a total amount of N6, 000,000.00 on their salaries and feedings. They worked hard, chased away the Boko Haram from our communities and gave us access to farming and other normal activities,
- While we were enjoying the peace process, the insurgent had renewed strategies and used the herdsmen around the region and massively attacked the vigilante group and killed the leader. After that, they chased the Christians from their communities.
Challenges and Needs
- We want to go back to our communities we need security so that we can start faming to feed ourselves; the government is not doing anything to help us.
- There is no good school for our kids; public school is inadequate for learning and prone to abduction at any moment. Although there is EYN private school, they charge N3,200 as tuition fee and it’s not affordable to most of us.
- We need medical attention, spiritual reading materials and prayers to stand in these moments of trial and persecution.
VOP Note: Please keep praying for our brothers and sisters in Nigeria. Multiple attacks have taken place since this update.
Voice of the Persecuted is on the ground in Nigeria to care for our Christian brothers and sisters experiencing brutal persecution.
We are committed to being a VOICE for persecuted Nigerian Christians and bring them comfort, relief, and encouragement. They will not be forgotten!
We want you to know that even in great hardship, they thank God and feel extremely blessed that He has kept His hand on them. They have been so encouraged and thank God for each one of you who have joined this mission through prayer and your support.
Together with your generous help, we can reach the goal to alleviate horrific suffering. In darkness and desperation, let us serve in love, with open arms and giving hands to provide light and hope.
HELP SAVE THE PERSECUTED
Every day, we thank God that He is working through you to care for His children and to further His Kingdom! As you greatly bless others, may God continue to bless you. Thank you so much for your support. We couldn’t do it without you!
Nigeria (Morning Star News) – Suspected Muslim Fulani herdsmen ambushed and killed a 26-year-old Catholic on Thursday (May 2) in north-central Nigeria and two other Christians in the same manner on April 27, sources said.
After a herdsmen assault in March 2018 that left 27 Christians dead in the predominantly Christian community of Dong village north of Jos, assailants on Thursday (May 2) killed David Musa, 26, at 5:25 p.m., said Nuhu Ako, 42-year-old Christian youth leader at the area’s St. Monica’s Catholic Church.
“We heard the sound of gunshots around the stream west of Dong village, where you’re now talking to us,” Ako told Mornning Star News. “We rushed there to find out what happened and found again the killing of a member of our community.”
As Muslim Fulani herdsmen have been attacking Dong and Nzehrivoh villages for two years, Ako and other Christians suspect they are behind the slaying of Musa and the April 27 killing of Sunday Adi, 45, and Jonathan Joseph, 29, at 7:25 p.m. on that Saturday.
“We were returning to Dong village after the day’s work at Nzerivoh village, our former village where we were displaced last year, and we heard gunshots,” he said. “We decided not to proceed with our movement and remained where we were. A few moments afterwards, two people riding on a motorbike came to where we were and told us that they saw two corpses not far from the spot where were standing.”
The Christians went to the site and found the two bodies, he said.
“We immediately phoned soldiers of the Special Task Force (STF) and informed them about our findings,” he told Morning Star News. ‘They told us to wait for them at the spot. We waited for them and they never showed up. We left the spot and returned to our homes at Dong, until the following morning, which was Sunday, 28 April, before the soldiers came to the spot and left without picking the two corpses.”
Adi, member of a Catholic church, was buried in the now desolate Nzehrivoh village. Joseph, a member of the Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA), was buried in Dong village, Ako said.
He said armed Fulani herdsmen have been attacking Christian residents of Dong and Nzehrivoh villages for the past two years for no reason.
“We are farmers and have not been able to continue with our vocation because of these attacks,” he said. “We and our elders and church leaders have met several times with these herdsmen to understand what is prompting them to attack us without finding any real reason for such acts against us.”
Herdsmen leaders have often assured villagers that “they would impress it on their people to end such attacks on us, but it appears they only do this in order to perfect their plans to attack us the more,” he said.
The herdsmen have destroyed Nzehrivoh village, west of Dong, Ako said.
“The destruction of our houses was carried out right in the presence of soldiers who were brought to the village to protect us,” he said. “Instead, we have been forced to escape to Dong community, and here, too, the herdsmen are now attacking this community. We do not know where to run to since the whole of this area is under attack.”
On April 29 soldiers stationed in Nzehrivoh were evacuated, and the following morning, herdsmen went to the village and burned down the few houses remaining there, he said.
Kadzai Prince Peter, a Catholic catechist of St. Augustine’s church in Jos, said Christians have tried to forestall attacks by welcoming the Fulani herdsmen.
“We have tried to embrace all these Fulani people, to live with them,” Peter told Morning Star News. “We’ve been kind to them; we gave them our land to stay on and to graze their cattle. Unfortunately, they’ve been killing our members.”
His parish in Nzehrivoh has been destroyed and parishioners displaced by the herdsmen, he said.
“The way they attack us is terribly bad,” he said. “We tried to make peace with them, but this has not worked as they keep attacking us. They still kill our members. So, we don’t know what else to do.
“We as Christians see the herdsmen as our brothers and cannot send them away; but, unfortunately, these Fulani herdsmen do not appreciate our hospitality and are killing us and forcing us out of our lands. We just buried one of our members killed by the herdsmen a moment ago.”
Silas Jacob, a 42-year-old Catholic catchiest whose parish was in Nzehrivoh before the village was destroyed, said attacks on the community began on Oct. 13, 2017, killing some and displacing others.
“The Fulani herdsmen attacked us at about 9 pm and killed many of my members,” he said. “Those of us who survived the attack took refuge here at Dong village. After soldiers were brought to Nzehrivoh, we returned there, but in March 2018, again the herdsmen attacked us; this is even with the presence of soldiers in Nzehrivoh village.”
His parishioner returned to Dong, Jacob said.
“Then last Saturday [April 27], the herdsmen ambushed two of our people and killed them,” he said. “And just while we were still mourning the two, one of us was again killed yesterday [May 2] in an ambush again by the herdsmen. This is very disheartening. These attacks on us are being carried out in the presence of soldiers, and yet the Nigerian government has not done anything to end these unprovoked attacks on us.”
Church members have not ceased praying and thanking God for His mercies and protection, Jacob added.
“We use this opportunity to covet prayers of other Christians and also call for support from those who are led by the Holy Spirit to do so,” he said. ‘We have parishioners who have no places to sleep, food to eat, and even medical supplies for health needs. Truly, those of us who have survived these attacks are suffering.”
The government needs to take urgent steps toward finding a lasting, peaceful solution, Jacob said.
“We want a peaceful coexistence in this country, because it is only in doing this that development can take place,” he said. “The Fulani have deliberately been grazing their cattle on farms of Christians, and when these Christian farmers complain about such behavior, they are attacked by the herdsmen. This is not proper.”
The Catholic leaders said the attacks on Nzherivo village in 2017 and 2018 displaced entire congregations from six churches: ECWA Church, St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, Church of Christ in Nigeria (COCIN), Assembly of God Church, Anglican Church and a Seventh-day Adventist Church.
The church leaders pleaded for assistance to enable the them rebuild even one worship hall that would give them a place to pray and worship irrespective of denominational differences.
Nigeria ranked 12th on Open Doors’ 2019 World Watch List of countries where Christians suffer the most persecution.