Living in an area that became extremely dangerous for Christians, a persecuted family describes their harrowing journey to escape one of the most violent terror groups in the world. With no time to gather any belongings, they could bring only one thing with them, their FAITH.
(Voice of the Persecuted) Northern Nigeria is an area where we’ve been called and blessed to serve persecuted Christians. The Islamic group, Boko Haram has committed brutal atrocities against the Christians living in the north. Many church leaders believe they are attempting to eradicate Christianity from the region. Based on Boko Haram’s murderous campaign, for the past 6 years, it’s hard to disagree with them. The Christians have begged for help, but there is much silence and a lack of interest from the international community to alleviate their suffering. Due to the severity of the crisis, we could not desert them. In prayer, we intercede on their behalf and will be their VOICE.
As their village came under attack, Lydia fled with the children to the mountains and stayed in a cave for some months. They drank rain and stagnant waters. “We ate with much difficulty.” Having a measure of flour, she baked with some edible grasses to sustain themselves. Later, they left the cave and found their way to a community where soldiers were present. But Boko Haram members started threatening the community, so she and the children hiked for two days to find safety in Cameroon. She told Voice of the Persecuted (VOP), “It was indeed a true test of my faith, because many people were staying back and embraced Islam.”
They finally reached the U.N. refugee camp and stayed for two months. For the well-being of her children, she chose to leave the hard conditions of the U.N. camp. They headed back towards Nigeria and trekked for nearly a week on mountainous roads. She described how their feet were swollen and “the children were at the point of death.” She said that they had God’s protection, if not, they wouldn’t have survived. The family arrived and stayed at another camp, but soon realized they were the only Christians. Uncomfortable with the threat of conversion, she moved the children from place to place until they found safety in a Christian IDP camp. She told VOP that they were welcomed by the church leaders who treat them as their own children. They finally felt safe. Soon after arriving, this brave mother prepared to give birth to her seventh child.
Can you place yourself in her position and imagine the stress, or the thoughts that ran through her mind? Would she ever see her husband again?Would he ever meet his new baby? How will she care for her family in his absence? When will the violent persecution stop and would they ever be safe again? She prayed to the One she knew was listening. He had and would continue to answer her prayers.
Her child was born at the primitive camp with the love of Christians around them. On that special day, the entire camp rejoiced and gave thanks to God!
Days before the family was to receive the aid relief from Voice of the Persecuted, we were notified that a connection had been made with her husband. The father of the seven children had survived! Arrangements were made to soon reunite the family at the camp. Many prayers were answered! We rejoiced and glorified God with this family and our Nigerian brethren.
Husband witnesses months of complete and unabashed evil
Her husband, along with others had been abducted by Boko Haram militants. “They tied our hands and asked me if I was a Muslim”. When they learned he was not, he was brutally beaten as they called him an unbeliever. He witnessed them slaughter one of the men, as they shouted “Allau akbar’—meaning god is great. He described that many were killed in their presence and believed the militants intended to slaughter them all. But soldiers arrived to engage the terrorists in a renewed offensive. The militants ran off and the Christians made their escape into the hills. He relayed how they ran from one point to another, as the Boko Haram terrorists closed in on them. He lamented, “Before my very eyes, people were killed, churches were burnt and houses destroyed.”
Proof the hand of God is on them
“I was trapped for nearly six months on the hills. I fled and hid from the terrorists as God protected and guided me.” The scene was gory and my faith was shattered. But God helped me through it all to find my way into Cameroon in search of my wife and children.” He went from camp to camp, but finally told they had left. He eventually made his way back to Nigeria and at long last, given the location of his wife and children.
“The journey was terrible; I saw a lot of dead and wounded people on the way. Some people were killed by the terrorists and others died due to exhaustion.”
After going through such extreme psychological and physical stress, this family suffers emotional distress. But with God’s love and compassion from the Body of Christ, we are sure they will overcome. So many of the persecuted feel a loss of dignity when stripped of all they have and forced to beg for simple basics. But these are our heroes, inspiring us with true faith. From the frontlines of the ‘battle’, they choose Christ and are given divine strength to fight the good fight against evil. We are blessed to share in their testimony and honored to serve them.
They are praising God for laying it on your hearts to support this mission providing the gifts that have comforted them. In the joyous moments of reuniting with his family, the aid relief was presented to them at the camp. Food, utensils, clothing, shoes, bedding, baby needs, travel cases, soaps and hygiene products. We have also supplied ongoing medical care for the mother and her new baby. It appears the infant has a umbilical hernia, which we will stay updated on. If necessary, we will cover the costs of any surgical procedure the child may need.
Her husband was greatly moved by the timing and generosity of your gifts. As precious seeds that have been sown for God’s Kingdom, they brought encouragement, renewed hope and faith to this suffering family. In his words,
“From nowhere and in our nothingness we have come to see the hand of God at work in our lives. We are gradually rebuilding our lives through the aid of our benefactors: Voice of the Persecuted. Thank you for putting smiles on our faces.” The couple decided is name their new son, Emmanuel which means “God with us“.
They have been through so much and are still face many challenges. For now, it’s unsafe to go back to their community. And when the time comes that they are able to return, all must be rebuilt. The suffering caused by persecution lingers for quite some time. Also, they are vulnerable to becoming victims of abuse and must be protected during this time of rehabilitation. We have given them a foothold, but they still need our assistance to get back on their feet. As the Body of Christ, we can help them to heal by providing for their Spiritual, emotional and physical needs. In the same way the first century Christians cared for one another in love. And they desperately need our prayers.
So many tell us that they don’t know how to help when there is so much suffering. This family along other families, including those widowed by persecution reside in this camp. Aid has been stretched so thin, many never see it. We are stepping up to help relieve the burden. Please partner with us to cover these families, they have all suffered immensely. Don’t be overwhelmed, it will crush any good that your heart intends to do! WE CAN DO THIS, TOGETHER! Please share this story. Encourage others to join in praying for and aiding these persecuted brothers and sisters. We greatly appreciate and need your help and support.
Saturday, we will be sending an encouraging letter to our brothers and sisters in the camp. All those who have donated this month and those donating to the Nigerian Project by Saturday, your names will be added to that letter. When donating, you’re also welcome to add a message which we will include in the letter. They would love to hear from you!
Lois Kanalos, Founder and the VOP Team
Together with your generous support, 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.
Everyday, we thank God that He is working through you to care for His children and 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!
You may also send your gift to:
Voice of the Persecuted
2740 Third St
P.O. Box 122
Trenton, MI. 48183
Names have been withheld for security purposes. Article may be reprinted and shared with credit to Voice of the Persecuted