(Voice of the Persecuted) We’ve been busy! Much is going on behind the scenes to better advocate for and aid the faithful suffering in persecution. Our founder, along with other members of the team, recently met with VOP’s Nigerian Project Leader, Fr. Gideon Obasogie and Bishop Oliver Dashe Doeme, head of the Diocese of Maiduguri in Nigeria’s Borno State. During the mission discussions, they focused on the current situation of our Nigerian brothers and sisters and ways VOP’s Project 13:3 Nigeria can better help them to endure. We have long warned of Boko Haram’s murderous campaign and their capabilities. Last year, the Boko Haram was described as the world’s deadliest terror group and has wreaked terrible death and destruction across the region. Like those in Iraq and Syria, they too have faced some of the worst persecution the world has ever known. Yet, the media seems less interested in covering the Nigeria crisis as the majority of reports are focused on the Middle East.
Voice of the Persecuted is on the ground in Nigeria supporting a camp for those displaced by extreme persecution. Many in the camp come from areas hardest hit by the radical militants. They’ve survived unimaginable attacks, kidnappings, rape and great losses. Nearly every person has suffered the death of family members. It has taken a serious toll on their physical and emotional health. Many will need long-term counseling and medical rehabilitation. More than two million people have been internally displaced by the Boko Haram insurgency. Based on those in ‘unregistered’ camps some report the number is much higher.
For the most part, the global community has blatantly looked away. It has shocked a number of us at Voice of the Persecuted and the reason a few advocates have named these dear ones, ‘The Invisibles‘. Many in the West are unaware that every day, Christians are facing some form of persecution in North Nigeria. Bishop Doeme said. “Since Boko Haram’s emergence, it has been one attack after another on the church, on individuals and families.” Aid reaching these victims falls way short compared to the scale of the crisis. We cannot continue to ignore them any longer. Our silence has added to the acute suffering. We are the Church, we must do more to aid our brethren when others will not.
Christians have been severely impacted as the military fights to push back the jihadists. Many fled their villages which were completely razed, even going as far as neighboring Cameroon to seek safety. Family members became separated with many of the victims unaware if their loved ones are still alive. They are hopeful that the government will soon take down the Boko Haram. They are praying for the ability to return home safely. The military has taken back some areas once controlled by the militants. Weary from the conflict, some people have recently started to return. But many villages are still unstable and under threat of possible attacks, including suicide bombings. Their safety outweighs the risk of return. They’ve been through enough.
During our meeting, we listened as they shared heartbreaking stories of what can only be described as demonic activity. One may not like to hear us use such terms, but the extreme brutality and torture being witnessed is not human. Our Nigerian brothers and sisters agree. However, they ask us to pray for their persecutors as they are lost and have been deceived.
We heard horrifying accounts of women and children watching their husbands or fathers murdered before their eyes. Some have lost multiple family members in a single attack. They saw their homes doused with flammables as everything they owned was set on fire, burned to the ground in a heap of ash. In particular, the story of one woman stands out. She begged the militants to take her life after they forced her to watch the beheading her husband, a man with great faith. Strangely the insurgents ignored her. She grabbed the shirt one of the militants, demanding they relieve her from living without the man she loved and the loss of all she had. She claimed she would rather be with him than to face another day without. Once again, the they seemed not to notice her. They did not rape or take her as a spoil. She lives today! Praise the Lord with us that our Christian sister has been spared. Pray that she will overcome the intense grief, will be uplifted and shown love and concern by us, the Church as a whole.
Gideon spoke of boys abducted to kill in the insurgency, Young girls forced to become suicide bombers. Some ran away before they were blown to bits to protect their neighbors recognized in the crowd. Women and girls kidnapped and used as sex slaves. Thousands, like chattel, taken over the past 6 years. But many have only heard of the Chibok schoolgirls kidnapped in 2014. The whereabouts of most of the 270 Chibok girls are still unknown, only 56 escaped captivity. Nearly all the girls were Christians. We pray these little sisters have hope in Christ, are remaining strong in their Christian faith and know He is always with them. Please pray for them and the release of all captives held by the Boko Haram.
Divine Strength in Christ
Fr. Gideon reported stories of the incredible faith of those facing immediate death but held onto Jesus until their last breath. Miraculous news of those submitting their lives free from fear as if nothing was happening while they were brutally killed. Though it was a blessing to hear of these miracles, many have suffered immensely. Take heart, all these dear ones are precious in the sight of the Lord. They will be given white robes and a crown of life! One day, we will rejoice with them and together give glory to our Almighty God.
The insurgency has been ongoing since 2009. Some have been living in the IDP camps for years. Many churches have been destroyed or stand vacant. Whole congregations fled as their communities were experiencing or under the constant threat of attack. Eventually, pastors also had to run for their lives leaving their churches behind. Some began ministering in the IDP camps, as they too became refugees in their own land.
Brother Gideon told us,
“They can destroy our church buildings, but they cannot destroy our faith.”
Many of you may remember Brother Gideon and others from the camp on our January 24-hour Prayer Conference Call Event. During that call, we heard directly from, asked questions and prayed for persecuted Christians. While we were praying, Gideon told us that explosions were taking place and the city was under attack. It was an anxious moment for all of us. Fr. Gideon shared how important the call is for them. How they feel as if they’re sitting in the same room praying with us. Our founder, Lois Kanalos shared how many of you have been deeply touched hearing their voices, their current status and connecting with them on a deeper level. He was very encouraged and looking forward to the next Prayer Call Event in April.
In Christ, Bishop Doeme has learned to deal with the anxiety that comes with each attack.
“Fear will always come,” he said. “But then, as a believer, the faith overshadows the fear.”
Fr. Gideon pointed out the Bishop’s bright red socks, which stood out in contrast to his dark clothing. He explained the Bishop wore the socks as a reminder to the faithful that he would not abandon them. He would be the last to leave, even if that departure meant martyrdom. The Bishop nodded and said,
“God has planted me there in order to serve the people.”
They expressed their gratitude for all the prayers of protection. The Christian camps in the nearby area have not been affected by recent attacks! They also said, our Nigerian brothers and sisters are very encouraged knowing we pray for them.
When many pastors have been forced to flee, these brave men have vowed to stay with, help to protect and care for all Christians, regardless of denominational differences. Voice of the Persecuted also stands united with all who call Jesus Christ, “Lord” and are persecuted for their faith. We are honored to work side by side. We thanked the Bishop for allowing our dear Brother Gideon to lead VOP’s Project 13:3 Nigeria to care for Christians who have suffered the most at the hands of the Boko Haram. Aid has even been given to moderate Muslims, particularly women, who have suffered alongside those we intend to help, which is in agreement with the VOP mission.
We were informed of the stress many Christians are facing in government camps. They’re constantly pressured to convert to Islam and often passed over for daily food rations and water. Women are extremely vulnerable and preyed upon by Muslim men. It has reached a level where Christians leaders are now asking the brethren to leave these camps and find those aiding Christians, such as our camp. The numbers in this camp rise and falls between 400-700 people. Larger numbers are seen following attacks. We’re told those in the camp have spread the word for others to come. Sharing they feel cared for, receive 3 square meals a day and medical needs are supplied.
The Bishop specifically spoke about our completed well project and the great blessing it has been to those in the camp. Not only has it protected them from the cholera outbreak experienced from the contaminated local well, they no longer must trek the long distance carrying heavy buckets back and forth to the camp. It has made a huge impact on them and they are forever grateful to all who have partnered for its construction. THANK YOU! They pray daily for the Lord to continue using this mission and for those making it possible through their gifts.
Excitedly, we all praise God as we discussed how the Lord has directed Project 13:3 Nigeria from the very start. From covering the needs of one family to caring for the needs of the entire camp a year later. We were reminded of the loaves and fishes. God is truly blessing His saints! With Christians now being forced out of government camps, the numbers of our brothers and sisters needing our help have grown.
Voice of the Persecuted has been asked to expand the mission to aid 2 more camps—2000 in one, 7000 in the other. We humbly ask for and need your support to help alleviate their suffering. We pray He can use each one of us to do our part for His love to shine on these persecuted brothers and sisters in Nigeria. Any amount is greatly appreciated. If your church is being led to do more for our persecuted family, please contact us. We would be happy to send detailed updates of this relief project. Is God calling you to be a part of this important mission?
We are committed to being a VOICE for persecuted Nigerian Christians and bring them comfort, relief and encouragement. We have committed to a long-term mission in Nigeria. When they are able to return home. we will be there to help rebuild villages and their lives. 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
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:
2740 Third St
P.O. Box 122
Trenton, MI. 48183
If the Lord is placing it on your heart and you are able, please help us to continue the mission in Nigeria. It will be a long term project. Donations always desperately needed
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