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Christian Leaders Urge Prayer for Nigeria’s Forgotten Victims

Nigeria (Morning Star News) – Their pleas for government help falling on deaf ears, Christian leaders issued calls for prayer this month as Islamic extremist groups continued terrorizing northeast Nigeria.

In the wake of attacks and kidnappings by Islamic extremist group Boko Haram and its offshoot Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP), leaders of the Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA) called for the release of four members long held captive by Islamic extremists in the country’s northeast.

The Rev. Stephen Baba Panya, president of the ECWA, said church leaders are troubled at the lack of effort by the Nigerian government to free church members years after Islamic extremist groups took them captive. He called for prayer for high school student Leah Sharibu, two aid workers, university student Lillian Gyang and the 112 girls who remain captive of the 276 kidnapped from a high school in Chibok, Borno state in 2014.

“Please join faith with me, and let us pray standing on God’s promises in Matthew 18:18-19 that Boko Haram/ISWAP or any other Islamic terror group shall not determine the fate of God’s beloved daughters Leah Sharibu, Alice Loksha Ngaddah, Grace Lucas, and Lillian Gyang who are ECWA members, and also the remaining Chibok girls,” Pastor Panya said in a statement sent to Morning Star News.

Leah Sharibu, 15 years old when she was kidnapped by Boko Haram on Feb. 19, 2018 from the Government Girls’ Science and Technical College, in Dapchi, Yobe state, was one of 110 girls taken captive; the 109 Muslim girls were released while Leah remained captive when she refused to renounce her Christian faith.

Ngaddah, mother of two children and an aid worker with UNICEF, was abducted on March 1, 2018 in Rann, Borno state, when ISWAP militants attacked an Internally Displaced Persons camp where she was working. Her aged mother reportedly died of trauma soon after learning about the kidnapping.

Taku, a health worker with Action Against Hunger, was kidnapped by ISWAP militants on July 18, 2019, along the Damasak-Maiduguri highway in Borno state. She also was ministering to displaced people.

Lillian Daniel Gyang, a student at the University of Maiduguri (UNIMAID) in Borno state, was kidnapped on Jan. 9 by ISWAP while returning to school from the Christmas and New Year’s break from her native Plateau state.

ISWAP in 2016 broke off from Boko Haram, which attacked two predominantly Christian communities in Borno state earlier this month. The Boko Haram insurgents, who seek to impose sharia (Islamic law) throughout Nigeria, attacked Pulka and Gwoza towns soon after Christians had finished Sunday evening services on Nov. 8, residents said.

“The attacks on Pulka and Gwoza towns started at about 9 p.m. and lasted till around 11p.m.,” area resident Vanessa Muda told Morning Star News by text message. “The Boko Haram terrorists invaded our towns shooting indiscriminately on our people.”

Another area resident, Polycarp John, said the Boko Haram militants were heavily armed.

“They were repelled when personnel of the Nigerian army who were stationed here fought them and forced them to retreat from Gwoza and Pulka towns,” he told Morning Star News by text message. “Our towns have been under constant attacks from Boko Haram since 2014, and at a time, Gwoza town was made the headquarters of the Boko Haram caliphate until the Nigeria army retook the town from them in 2018.”

The attacks came on the heels of an appeal by leaders of the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria (EYN), for prayer for Christians in southern Borno state facing terror from both Boko Haram and ISWAP militants.

“It is harvest time, which is challenging in normal years, but in these past years includes the threat of Boko Haram destroying the crop or attacking people as they harvest,” the leaders wrote in a Nov. 6 email. “Pray for many vulnerable villages in southern Borno state and other areas far from military bases.”

Six Nigerians Convicted

Lela Gilbert, senior fellow for international religious freedom for the Family Research Council, stated in a recent report that in spite of frequent appeals from Nigerian church leaders across the denominational spectrum and international human rights advocates, violence is escalating.

“Many informed observers describe Nigeria’s political leadership as both incompetent and corrupt,” Gilbert noted. “But that’s only part of the problem. Not only are they almost entirely Muslim in their religious affiliation (while the country’s population is roughly half Christian), as previously noted, several governmental leaders – beginning with President Muhammadu Buhari – belong to the Fulani tribe, as do numerous military and police officials. This is seen as one of the major roadblocks to reform, particularly with regard to the Fulani jihadi massacres.”

In the United Arab Emirates, authorities were able to convict six Nigerians resident in the UAE for financing Boko Haram activities in Nigeria, according to press reports.

Surajo Abubakar Muhammad and Saleh Yusuf Adamu were sentenced to life imprisonment, while Ibrahim Ali Alhassan, Abdurahman Ado Musa, Bashir Ali Yusuf and Muhammad Ibrahim Isa each received 10-year prison sentences, according to Nigerian newspaper the Daily Trust.

An Abu Dhabi Federal Court of Appeal convicted the six Islamists of providing Boko Haram with $782,000.

On Jan. 30 Christian Solidarity International (CSI) issued a genocide warning for Nigeria, calling on the Permanent Member of the United Nations Security Council to take action. CSI issued the call in response to “a rising tide of violence directed against Nigerian Christians and others classified as ‘infidels’ by Islamist militants in the country’s north and middle belt regions.’”

Nigeria ranked 12th on Open Doors’ 2020 World Watch List of countries where Christians suffer the most persecution but second in the number of Christians killed for their faith, behind Pakistan.

One Man Slain, Children and Others Kidnapped in North-Central Nigeria

Damage from fire set at Baptist church building in Damba Kasaya village, Kaduna state, Nigeria. (Facebook)

Nigeria (Morning Star News) – Fulani herdsmen attacked a predominantly Christian village in north-central Nigeria, killing one resident, burning a church building and kidnapping four children among others on Monday (Aug. 24), sources said.

More than 20 herdsmen rode into Damba Kasaya village, Kaduna state, on motorcycles at about 8 a.m. in an attack in which they kidnapped four students, including a 10-year-old girl, from a school.

“Our church, Aminchi Baptist Church, here in Damba Kasaya, was burned, and Mr. Benjamin Auta, aged 35, was killed during the attack,” village resident Nuhu Aruwa told Morning Star News by text message.

Local news reports said Auta was killed while pursuing the fleeing herdsmen, but Aruwa said they killed him in his house, which is close to the school where the students were kidnapped. The herdsmen abducted seven Christians from the village in Chikun County, he said.

“Among them were four students of Prince Academy and one of their teachers,” Aruwa said. “Two other Christian farmers, a woman and a man, were captured and taken away too by the herdsmen.”

Village resident Emmanuel Zakka said three girls were kidnapped among the students – 10-year-old Favour Danjuma, Miracle Saitu Danjuma, 15, and Happiness Odoji, 16 – along with Ezra Bako, 17. Zakka identified the kidnapped teacher as Christiana Madugu, 29.

In the same county’s Damishi village, herdsmen reportedly abducted six Christians on Saturday (Aug. 22) from a hotel where they had taken refuge after Fulani herdsmen attacked their village. Two of the six kidnapped were women nursing babies.

On Saturday (Aug. 22) in Kakura village, in the Kajuma area also in Chikun County, Muslim Fulani herdsmen reportedly kidnapped an Anglican priest and his 10-year-old son. The Rev. Meshach Luka of the Anglican Diocese of Kaduna and his son were kidnapped from his station at Kakura II Kujama Missionary Archdeaconry.

They were freed on Monday (Aug. 24), according to the Hausa Christians Foundation, without providing details of their release.

The assaults were the latest in an acceleration of herdsmen attacks this year in Kaduna state. More than 50,000 Christians have been displaced from 109 villages now occupied by armed Fulani herdsmen in Kachia, Kajuru, Chikun and Kaura counties, all in southern Kaduna state, according to Luka Binnayat Southern Kaduna People’s Union (SOKAPU).

Numbering in the millions across Nigeria and the Sahel, predominantly Muslim Fulani comprise hundreds of clans of many different lineages who do not hold extremist views, but some Fulani do adhere to radical Islamist ideology, the United Kingdom’s All-Party Parliamentary Group for International Freedom or Belief (APPG) noted in a recent report.

“They adopt a comparable strategy to Boko Haram and ISWAP [Islamic State West Africa Province] and demonstrate a clear intent to target Christians and potent symbols of Christian identity,” the APPG report states.

Christian leaders in Nigeria have said they believe herdsmen attacks on Christian communities in Nigeria’s Middle Belt are inspired by their desire to forcefully take over Christians’ lands and impose Islam as desertification has made it difficult for them to sustain their herds.

The APPG report noted that tribal loyalties cannot be overlooked.

“In 2015, Muhammadu Buhari, a Fulani, was elected president of Nigeria,” the group reported. “He has done virtually nothing to address the behavior of his fellow tribesmen in the Middle Belt and in the south of the country.”

On Jan. 30 (CSI) issued a genocide warning for Nigeria, calling on the Permanent Member of the United Nations Security Council to take action. CSI issued the call in response to “a rising tide of violence directed against Nigerian Christians and others classified as ‘infidels’ by Islamist militants in the country’s north and middle belt regions.’”

Nigeria ranked 12th on Open Doors’ 2020 World Watch List of countries where Christians suffer the most persecution but second in the number of Christians killed for their faith, behind Pakistan.

Christian Father of Two Killed in Jharkhand State, India

Bindi Munda receives visit from Jharkhand, India legal coordinator of ADF India after tribal villagers killed her husband. (Morning Star News)

India (Morning Star News) – When Kande Munda heard a knock on his door one night last month, the Christian father of two knew it was likely the same thugs and their colleagues in his area of Jharkhand, India who had harassed him for nearly four years.

They were particularly upset that Munda had reported them to police for a 2018 assault on his mother-in-law. The assailants, followers of tribal Adivasi religion, had opposed her conversion to Christianity by labelling her Christian prayers as “witchcraft” and gang-raping her.

Munda and his family were already in bed after a hard day of work on the night of June 7 when they heard the knock on the door. Munda told his wife not to answer it.

“He was suspicious that they must have come for him,” his wife, Bindi Munda, told Morning Star News.

Three men forced the door open and entered, while four or five remained outside, she said. Darkness obscured their faces.

“One of them pointed a gun at my husband and told the other two men that they should first rape me and then kill my husband,” Munda said.

Their children, ages 1 and 3, were asleep. The armed assailants seized her husband by the neck as he knelt and pleaded with them not to kill him, she said.

“I have done nothing wrong – please don’t kill me,” he cried repeatedly, according to his wife, who picked up their children, holding one in each arm, and fled into the wilderness. She hid there briefly before running into the village screaming for someone to save her husband.

“But by the time I had returned to our shanty with some neighbors, he was not there,” she said. “I went about half a mile on foot to a believer’s home to get their help to search for my husband.”

That night Kande Munda’s youngest brother, returning to Bari village on a motorbike, found his corpse in a pool of blood under a tree by the side of the road to Latardih village. The mutilated body was barely recognizable.

“He suspected that the body was that of his brother,” the wife of the deceased told Morning Star News. “He rushed to our shanty looking for us, and as he could not find us there, he called on my husband’s phone. I picked up the phone, and he told me that there was a corpse lying by the road, and it looked like that of my husband.”

Kande Munda, also known as Philip Munda, was 27.

It was the second killing of a Christian for his faith in India last month. On the night of June 4 in Odisha state, followers of tribal religion abducted 16-year-old Sambaru Madkami for his faith before stabbing and stoning him to death. In Uttar Pradesh state on May 28, villagers tried to kill pastor Dinesh Kumar in an ambush that left him unconscious.

Mixed Motives

Munda and his family previously practiced their traditional, animistic religion as tribal Adivasis. After he put his faith in Christ in 2017, his wife soon converted, and when her mother came for an extended visit in 2018, she too received Christ, Bindi Munda said.

After Adivasi villagers abducted her mother from their home, took her into the woods and gang-raped her, Kande Munda filed a police complaint, she said.

“The police investigated the matter and arrested some of the accused,” she said. “Since then, opposition against my husband and our Christian faith increased.”

Sanjay Sandil, a member of Siyon Church in the area, said the primary suspect remained at large. After police arrested some suspects, he said, one of Munda’s cousins continually harassed Munda with the help of some militant Maoist colleagues, pressuring him to withdraw the charges.

The cousin and Maoists issued an ultimatum about three months ago that Munda should drop the case or “face consequences,” Sandil said.

“Every time he would inform us about the harassment, we supported him as a church and stood by him,” Sandil told Morning Star News. “We always reached Bari village in the next couple of hours and ensured that the Maoist group did not lay hands on him or sister Bindi Munda.”

In May eight men surrounded their home, and Sandil and other Christians arrived to stand with the family, he said. Police also arrived and gave assurances that they would not let any of the accused go free, Sandil said.

The day of the attack (June 7), police had received word that the primary suspect was in Bari village and were searching for him, he said.

“They could not catch him, but in the night at around 8 p.m., the men unleashed the attack by forcefully entering his house,” Sandil said. “It is more likely that the same persons who gheraoed the house in May must have showed up at their shanty that night. Brother Philip Munda was brutally hacked to death with machetes. The marks can be seen clearly on the back of his body.”

Noble Soul

On June 8, officers at the Saiko police station registered cases against the eight men under sections for kidnapping or abducting to murder (Section 364) and murder (Section 302) of the Indian Penal Code.

“The persons who abducted and murdered Kande Munda have absconded from the crime scene soon after they committed his murder,” Superintendent of Police Ashutosh Shekhar told Morning Star News. “The investigation and search for the accused are still underway. We have been able to list the names of suspects, and a few other names also had surfaced during the investigation. All the accused persons would be arrested very soon.”

Sandeep Oraon, Jharkhand legal aid coordinator for advocacy group Alliance Defending Freedom India, visited Munda’s family at their new location on June 24. He assured them of legal assistance in the matter and prayed with them.

Sandil recalled Munda as a noble soul – a selfless, skilled construction and field worker who would agree to work for half the normal wage for people who could not afford to pay more.

“He was providing for his family by working very hard,” Sandil said. “Now the small children do not have a father to provide and raise them.”

Bindi Munda has relocated with her children to another village, as the killers could come after her since she witnessed the abduction of her husband, he said.

“After Brother Philip Munda’s funeral service, the church members spent some time with sister Bindi, counselling her and telling her to remain strong in faith,” Sandil said. “She shared that her husband told her that he could be killed and asked her to bring up their children in a godly manner.”

The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom on April 28 urged the U.S. State Department to add India as a “Country of Particular Concern” to its list of nations with poor records of protecting religious freedom.

India is ranked 10th on Open Doors’ 2020 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 worsened since Narendra Modi of the Bharatiya Janata Party came to power in 2014.

Christians Abducted, Attacked in Bangladesh Refugee Camp

View of the sprawling Kutupalong refugee camp near Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. Photo: Russell Watkins/Department for International Development

Human Rights Watch) Taher, a Rohingya Christian pastor, and his 14-year-old daughter were abducted from their shelter in a refugee camp in Bangladesh on the morning of January 27. The previous night scores of men attacked 22 Christian families living in Kutupalong Camp 2 in Cox’s Bazaar. The attackers beat up residents, vandalized homes, and looted personal property in the sprawling Rohingya refugee camp. At least 12 Rohingya Christian refugees were injured and hospitalized following the attack. A makeshift Christian church and school were also smashed. After the attack the families relocated to a United Nations transit center and filed a police case against 59 alleged assailants.

The Benar News Agency and Radio Free Asia have reported that camp residents believe that the attackers are linked to the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA), an ethnic Rohingya armed group. An ARSA representative denied and condemned the attacks on Christians, saying the assailants were harming the group’s fight for Rohingya rights.

Taher’s wife, Roshida, fears that her husband has been killed and her daughter abducted. She told Human Rights Watch that, “No one can give me any clear information, but my relatives told me that my daughter has been forced to convert to Islam and marry.”

Approximately 1,500 Rohingya Christians are among the more than 700,000 predominantly Muslim Rohingya forced to flee to Bangladesh as the result of the Myanmar military’s 2017 campaign of ethnic cleansing.

Victims say the Bangladesh authorities, who described the attack as an “ordinary law and order incident” and not an attack aimed at Christians, are not doing enough to protect them or to find Taher and his daughter. Camp officials “try to avoid our queries,” said one man. Another said a police officer in Cox’s Bazar told him that if the victims wanted to be safe they should “go to the moon.”

Rohingya Christians have previously reported facing threats and violence in the camps. The UN special rapporteur on human rights in Myanmar, Yanghee Lee, has expressed her concern for Rohingya Christian refugees who are facing “hostility and violence.” The Bangladesh authorities should urgently locate Taher and his daughter and bring those responsible to justice. The government should also act immediately to protect all vulnerable groups in the country’s refugee camps, including religious minorities like Rohingya Christians.

Nigerian Church Leader Calls for Gov’t Protection After Gunmen Kill Pastor, Abduct His Wife

(CBN) A Nigerian pastor was reportedly killed and his wife abducted for ransom by unknown assailants Sunday evening while traveling on a highway where being attacked by criminals has become a common occurrence.

The Punch reported Jeremiah Omolara, the pastor of Living Faith Church in Romi New Extension, a suburb of Kaduna state, was shot and killed when the attackers ambushed his vehicle on the Abuja-Kaduna Highway.

In addition to Omolara’s wife, the couple’s son was also in the vehicle. He was able to escape, according to news reports.

The assailants are demanding a ransom in the amount of more than $138,000 for the pastor’s wife.

Omolara’s murder and his wife’s abduction were confirmed by Rev. Joseph Hayab, chairman of the state chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN).

Hayab urged the Nigerian government to tighten security in the state, according to to the Daily Post Nigeria.

He also told of how kidnappings in the Kaduna are on the rise, especially the abduction of clergy.

“Just last week a clergyman was attacked in Kasuwan Magani,” Hayab explained. “The security man was killed immediately as they struggled to find their way into the house. Thank God, the gunmen could not gain entrance into the room.”

He also added the daughter of a Baptist pastor was recently abducted and the kidnappers are demanding a huge ransom.

“Now the Living Faith Church pastor was killed along Kaduna-Abuja in the presence of his wife, who was later abducted,” Hayab told the newspaper. “That tells you that the new trend is to attack us in our homes or in our churches or on the roads. We are just not safe anywhere and we are asking the same question we have been asking: ‘Where are our security agencies?'”

“Are we being told tactically that we should defend ourselves?” he continued.

Nigerians at risk are often told by authorities to become vigilantes and protect their own villages.

“If we start defending ourselves, it means that we no longer have security or we no longer have government. Or is this government only for those they love and they don’t care about others?”

“We don’t want a situation where we will be forced to think of how to protect ourselves, we believe that government is there to protect us,” Hayab concluded.

As CBN News has reported, hundreds of Christians have been killed in Nigeria by radical Islamic militias, including the Fulani herdsmen.

“Nigeria is now the deadliest place in the world to be a Christian,” explained attorney Emmanuel Ogebe. “What we have is a genocide. They are trying to displace the Christians, they are trying to possess their land and they are trying to impose their religion on the so-called infidels and pagans who they consider Christians to be.”

 

URGENT: PRAY FOR BIBLE TRANSLATORS UNDER ATTACK

Special Report: Translators persecuted for translating the gospel


By Nena Podbury for American Bible Society—This week, we received heartbreaking news about an attack against Bible translators and we’re urging everyone to pray.

American Bible Society has been supporting a network of churches that are working on 25 Bible translation projects for unreached people groups in Central Asia and the Arabic Gulf region. Working in an undisclosed location in Northeast Africa, where the Christian church faces strong opposition, Christians risk their lives to translate God’s Word.

Last month, a terrorist group became aware of these translation efforts. Two weeks ago, this militant group burned the translation facility and killed five members of the lead translator’s family. The lead translator was also seriously injured. Another 49 translators were abducted and are still missing.

Despite this horrifying tragedy and the constant threat of extreme danger, this network of pastors plans to carry on its work.

They need our prayers. Let us cry out to God for these brave translators and for God’s Word to continue to shine light in the darkness.

Pray for:

  • The missing translators. Pray for the safe release of the 49 translators who are missing.
  • Translation work. Pray for these translation projects to be completed so that those 25 unreached people groups will have access to God’s Word in their native language. Pray for safety, wisdom, and courage for all translators.
  • The lead translator. Pray that God will bring healing and comfort to this translator who lost members of his family.

Held Captive For 2 Years By Boko Haram: Rebecca’s Story

vop-nigeria-idp-22365

Reunited with her husband after 2 years of enslavement by the Boko Haram.

(Voice of the Persecuted) Baga is a town at the extreme north of Nigeria’s Borno State. The town has had more than its share of atrocities at the hands of the notorious Boko Haram. In January 2015, the fishing town became internationally known when it was targeted in the deadliest massacre in the history of the extremist Islamic group. The attack lasted 5 days (Jan.3-7). Security forces had quickly responded against the militants, but fatalities were reported as ‘heavy’ with possibly 2,000 people killed or unaccounted for. The Ministry of Defence claimed no more than 150 killed, some said the massacre never took place or that the terrorists had been repelled. But this claim was refuted by local officials, survivors, and the international media.

Baga and at least 16 other towns were thought to have been destroyed with 35,000 people displaced. Many were feared to have drowned while fleeing across Lake Chad, others were trapped by the Boko Haram on islands. At that time, the attacks resulted in Boko Haram extending its control to over 70% of Borno State. Its leader, Abubakar Shekau, claimed responsibility for the massacre, considered the killings as “not much” and threatened the insurgency “would not stop”. Their goal: Total Islamic Sharia Rule. The group had links to al-Qaeda, but later announced their allegiance to ISIS in March 2015.

If you don’t recall the attack, it may be due to the coverage of attacks in Paris beginning at the the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo. The terrorists killed a total of 17 in four shooting attacks between Jan.7-9. For weeks, the attacks in France dominated headlines and televised news reports. On January 11, 2015 about two million people, including more than 40 world leaders, met in Paris for a show of unity. 3.7 million people joined in demonstrations across France. The phrase Je suis Charlie had become a worldwide slogan of support. But compared to the coverage and solidarity with Paris, reports of the Baga massacre were barely a whisper. While the world has had their attention on ISIS, thousands have silently been slaughtered for the past 7 years by the Boko Haram, also known as ‘the deadliest terror group in the world‘. Outside Nigeria, most attacks go virtually unnoticed. The Baga attack was picked up after it claimed so many lives. See our report, World Ignores Victims of Boko Haram Terror Group (VOP January 14, 2015)

Heartbreaking Case of Abduction, Rape and Slavery 

Some weeks ago, Voice of the Persecuted received a report from our project leader in Nigeria that literally brought us to tears. In full detail, the report described the ordeal of a Christian woman who had escaped the clutches of Boko Haram militants after being held by the terrorists for 2 years. The family of Mr. Bitrus and his wife Rebecca have an extremely sorrowful story to share. They were residents of Baga when it came under a ferocious attack by the Boko Haram on the August 21, 2014—an attack that came before the brutal massacre and complete terrorists occupation of Baga in 2015. It was extremely hard for the couple to discuss all that had happened. But bravely, Rebecca narrated her story to one of our Nigerian correspondents, Fr. Gideon Obasogie, Directorate of Social Communications in Maiduguri, Nigeria.

With a sober look and a deep feeling of depression, Rebecca explained that in great confusion she fled her lovely home with her husband and their two sons, Zachariah who was 3 years and Jonathan 1. At the time, she was also expecting a third child but lost her pregnancy due to the subhuman conditions she was subjected to.

While fleeing the attack on that fateful day, Rebecca knew her husband would be the terrorists primary target. With the radical militants in hot pursuit, she feared Bitrus could not run fast enough while carrying their one year old son. Rebecca had developed severe pains from running and found it hard to go on. She pleaded with her husband to run and save his life and fervently urged him to leave them behind. In the panic, Bitrus finally heeded her advice and quickly ran to hide in the bush.

While Bitrus shared his story, he looked at his wife with a feeling of deep shame for not being her hero at that desperate moment of their lives. Guilt for not protecting his family when they needed him the most. But Rebecca had been correct, the militants did go after Bitrus. They continually sprayed bullets in his direction but were unsuccessful to find him. Praise be to God, no bullet ever touched him. After some time, Bitrus emerged from his hiding place but had become separated from his wife and children. When the Boko Haram fighters quit hunting him, they had turned back towards the location of his family. He was left imagining what would become of his wife and children and wondered what to do next. Promising himself to reconnect with his family, he trusted God would keep them alive. Bitrus moved with renewed hope to the nearby town of Mongonu. He waited in Mongonu for 15 days, as he scanned the crowds in anticipation of the arrival of his wife. Day after day, Bitrus searched for his family. He met and spoke with a lot of people coming out of Baga..

“I kept on asking them of the whereabouts of my wife….no one could tell me any good news. I became depressed with severe migraines and my blood pressure hit the roof. Some soldiers assisted me with a shelter to lay my head. They gave me some money, which I used to transport myself to Maiduguri. My uncle pleaded with me to not to be discouraged. He even took me to the hospital for medication. He tried to renew my hope, but he couldn’t stop the nightmares or my heartache. Leaving my family and everything I ever had behind was not an easy experience to come by.”

Rebecca’s Story

“When Bitrus fled to hide, Boko Haram came to me. They kept saying, “…da mun kashe Mujin ki..da mun Sami lada….ama ton da Allah bai bari ba…ke da yaran ki sai ku je ku yi aikin Allah,” meaning if only we had killed your husband we would have received Allah’s reward…but since Allah did not permit that…. you and your children will go and work for Allah. Thereafter, they hit me with the butt of a big gun and knocked out some of my teeth.”

When asked what happened next, Rebecca broke down in tears. With great compassion, Gideon encouraged her and she quietly told him, “That was when my nightmare began”. After killing all the men they had caught, Boko Haram militants moved Rebecca and her sons into the Lake Chad. They were fed nothing but chin-chin (a crunchy, baked or fried dough) as they were forced to wade through the water for nearly a week. Rebecca said, “crossing the lake was like an evil journey” with the water often coming up to her neck.  On the seventh day, they arrived at a place called Kwalleram and stayed there for about 53 days. Rebecca was forced to clean, wash and cook for the for militants and their wives. Sometimes she was assigned the task of clearing pathways for the militants motorcycles.

For fear she might try to escape, the militants moved her and her sons to Gurva, a town in Chad. There she found 2000 other Nigerians who had been captured by Boko Haram and forced to farm and cut wood for fuel.

About two months later, she was moved again. This time they were taken to a town called Tilma.

“It was in Tilma that they branded the number 69 on my back. I don’t really know its meaning, and I never cared to ask. They sold me to a man called Bage Guduma and I was with him for 55 days. I was given palm fruits to eat, but thank God I didn’t eat any of it. It would have drugged me and resulted in the loss of my senses. Most nights, Bage Guduma wanted to touch me, but I did not give in to him. I couldn’t bear the thought, so I took the feces of my children and rubbed it on my body…this kept him away. But for this, his sons would beat me ruthlessly. They made me dig a hole for three weeks until I hit the water level. They often flogged me 98 lashes and I became ill for two weeks. Then, they took my one year old son, Jonathan and threw him into Lake Chad. My son drowned and died. With deep sorrow as tears rolled down her cheeks, she said, “All these terrible things happened because I refused to give my body”.

Rebecca was then given to another Boko Haram militant called Malla.

“They tried to force me to sleep with him but when I resisted they threw me into their prison, a dark pit. I was in the pit for two whole days without food or water. When I came out, Malla brutally forced himself on me and I became pregnant. I tried to kill myself, but the wife of a Pastor, herself abducted from Gwoza, pleaded with me not to take my life. She already had two children fathered by the militants. When the time came for me to give birth, I delivered alone. No one came to my aid. I cut the placenta myself and was in great pain. I received no medical attention.  They named my son, Ibrahim. They liked him because he is a boy. The fighters want women who give birth to male children. Malla had traveled out and returned six weeks after I had given birth. I had nothing to do with him.”

Her Escape

Little Ibrahim with swollen navel/tummy

Little Ibrahim with swollen navel/tummy Photo: Voice of the Persecuted

Malla began to grow tired of Rebecca and promised to sell her to another man. It was then she decided to try and escape. At a time when most of the Boko Haram fighters had left the enclave, Rebecca sought permission from a female Boko Haram militant, probably the commander’s wife, to see a friend in another area controlled by the Boko Haram. When permission was granted, Rebecca headed instead to a small community called Maitele. From there, Rebecca took her sons and joined others as they walked for 6 days towards what they thought was the Nigerian border. Her son became ill for lack of water and food. Praise God, there came a heavy down pour which renewed and revived their strength for the journey, which for many would be towards an unknown destination. However, not for Rebecca, though she was unsure of her location, she pressed on with much hope and faith in the Lord to have a safe landing.

She eventually ended up in Diffa, a town in Niger. With the help of others, she met military personnel operating in the area. The military in Niger gave them much needed medical care and something to eat. Soon after, they were taken to a town called Damaturu, in Nigeria and left in the care of some Nigerian soldiers. The military eventually helped her to reunited with her husband, Bitrus. Rebecca has nothing but praise for the military personnel she met in Niger and Nigeria, including some of whom she thinks may have been US military personnel.

Reuniting with her husband

Bitrus claimed, “seeing my wife with the son of a Boko Haram father frightens me a lot. I was very happy to see my wife but the boy makes my heart break.” May God make me love him…yes, the son of a snake,” he said with some bitterness.

Rebecca is unsure what will happen between her and Bitrus. If Bitrus does not come to terms with the presence of the child, she is contemplating relocating to join her parents who are currently in Cameroon. She has pleaded with her husband to receive her as she is…and if he is hesitant she said in a hopeless tone, “I will give him his son and go to my parents”.

Sometimes, she too has mixed feelings about her son, Ibrahim. This is compounded by the stigma that traumatized women and girls rescued along with children fathered by Boko Haram fighters encounter from their own communities. Rebecca has even tried to give the child “to the government” but the military personnel encouraged her to keep the child. Ibrahim is only eight months old.

Caring For This Family

For now, Bitrus, Rebecca and the boys are in the custody of a local church.  This case seems to place everyone in a moral fix. But time heals and Rebecca is really a strong woman of faith! Voice of the Persecuted is helping to care for this family. All she needs is thorough medical attention, food to eat, cloths to wear, a good shelter, bedding for her troubled head and love from the Body of Christ, us! With the generosity of all of you who are helping to support this mission, Voice of the Persecuted has been able to provide Rebecca and her family with their immediate needs. Thank you so much! It’s because of people like you that we are able to step in and care for this family. To give them hope and know God is with them providing their needs. Rebecca will also need systematic trauma counseling. Her older child, now six years old, would need to go to school. Her husband, Bitrus also needs time to heal and guidance from the Lord. We can do our part by loving and having compassion on this family. Let us step in to continue covering this family, monthly, until they are able to stand on their own. Please could you show them some LOVE?

Brothers, Zachariah (6 yr) and Ibrahim (8 months) born on Dec. 25th

Brothers, Zachariah (6 yr) and Ibrahim (8 months) born on Dec. 25th. Photo: Voice of the Persecuted

PRAY

What horrors Rebecca has faced. Pray for her healing. Pray for her 6 yr. old son, Zachariah, that his little mind will heal from the things he has witnessed. For her husband, Bitrus to have a change of heart towards Ibrahim. Certainly these children born in captivity are not at fault in their fathers brutal sins.

Think of Joseph and the struggles he must have had learning Mary was pregnant. Our Heavenly Father must have loved Joseph very much to call on him to help care for the most important child ever born, His begotten Son, Jesus. Nothing is by chance. This child, Ibrahim may grow up to be a great hero of faith, entrusted by God to Rebecca and Bitrus to keep him safe and raised in faith.

Pray our brother, Bitrus will quickly come to see Rebecca’s son as a gift, not a reminder of his shame. To lift the child to the Lord and raise him to know the sacrifice Christ freely gave so that he may have life. Pray he can sacrifice his bitterness to the Lord and show Ibrahim, he is greatly loved. That he will treat the boy as his own son, equal with Zachariah. To teach him GOD’s word, how to worship HIM with his life and explain he too has a purpose in the Kingdom of our Lord.

Pray he will welcome Rebecca back into his heart, even stronger than the first, accepting her as she is with the boy. Pray for understand of the relief he will give her when he does. Father, have mercy on this family. Comfort and bless them with peace and joy. Surround them with compassionate brothers and sisters in Christ. Bring those with the means to help get them back on their feet. In Jesus Holy name, we pray. AMEN

By L. Kanalos, VOP Founder/Advocate

Voice of the Persecuted (VOP) is on the ground helping to care for the persecuted in Nigeria through our aid program, ‘Project 13:3’. They have suffered much, so many lives have been lost or forever changed by the insurgency. Many suffer from unbearable heartbreak. Living conditions for the displaced brings extreme hardship and too often disease and illness. Their physical, emotional and spiritual needs are immense.

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 encourage and 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 orphan-306x4601them. They’re 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

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!
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. Donations always desperately needed

 

Police Rescue 13 Year Old Abducted And Forcibly Converted To Islam

nigeria girl rescued

(Voice of the Persecuted) NIGERIA: Boko Haram are not the only culprits abducting young girls. While visiting her relatives at their family compound in Siri village, thirteen -year-old Alheri Bawa went with one of her cousins to stay the weekend with another cousin in Bauchi city.

When she didn’t return, her father, Bawa Buba is an ordained Elder of Seventh-day Adventist Church contacted his family but was told she was visiting with his nephew, Mal Dauda Bawa in Bauchi city. He called Dauda Buba to see if his daughter was still with him. He was told that Alheri was converted to Islam and he would not be seeing her anytime soon. The father was shocked and thought it was a joke. He asked his nephew why he didn’t discuss it with him and that his daughter never mentioned the intent to convert. The nephew told him that he should understand and allow his daughter to remain with him. Bawa Buba along with his pastor and another Elder from the church traveled and met his nephew at the gate of his home. He was told that the issue was no longer family, but religious. That he should put family aside and accept the fact, or go to the Sharia Commission as only they had the power to release his daughter.

While they were talking, his daughter came out excited to seeing her father and wanted to go home with him. He held her hands and asked her to enter the pastor’s car. As she was going, Mal Dauda Buba rushed and held onto her hijab and told her that she is irresponsible and would not leave with father unless the sharia commission was there, since they were aware of her decision. Bawa Buba said his daughter shouted “Na FASA, Na FASA”which translates to “I’m no longer interested.” Both her father and cousin held onto the girl. Bawa said the place was instantly filled with hoodlums who wanted to turn the issue into a religious crisis. They threatened to burn the pastor’s car.  Mal Dauda was shouting, “this religious issue, not family. He brought his church people.”

Some Muslim leaders in the area came and expressed their disapproval towards Mal Dauda’s action as unIslamic, but he insisted that he would not let her go. Bawa Buba said they told his pastor to take him out of the place. “I was no longer in my right mind because of the pains and trauma I have been through and my daughter’s willingness to follow me. I was ready to die with my daughter in my hand,” he said.

The crowd was increasing in number and tensions were high. Her father explained, “The Muslim elders begged my pastor to take me away and that I should not worry. They said police would return Alheri, because my nephew’s actions and the and the others gathering were not Islam.” His pastor dragged Bawa Buba by force and drove away from the scene.

Buba relayed, “We went to GRA Division Police station and laid our complaints. The police were quick in action at the beginning. They attached a policeman to us who later arrested Mal Dauda and brought him to the station.

His nephew was asked to explain his side. Mal Dauda then made a call to the Sharia Commission and they requested to speak with the police. After they spoke, his nephew was called to the  counter by Inspector in charge. Bawa said his nephew spoke boldly. Afterward, the police disregarded the case, treating it as a civil dispute. Bawa Buba was told to go to court and request for the custody of his daughter.

The father shared in a letter, “My 13-year old daughter is abducted, Islamized and forced to stay with a criminal and the police called it a civil case. We were [told] by the DCO to hire a lawyer and go to court over my daughter.”

“Were is the money to file a case? Which court should I go to? Sharia Court? I’m in trauma and pain. All I want is the custody of my daughter, Alheri Grace Bawa. Pls sir, use your office to return my daughter back to me. I’m home in the village back to my wife and remaining 5 children as we weep and wait for justice for me and my family.”

He had no choice but to go to the media for help. He shared an open letter on news forums and in comment sections of news articles on various news agency websites. It gained much attention and aided in his daughter’s rescue. The letter can be still be found on many sites.

After much pressure from the media and international community, the Inspector-General of Police, and the Bauchi State Commissioner of Police intervened and secured his daughter’s release.  She is now reunited with her family. Her abductor, Mal Dauda Bawa is allegedly in police custody and would reportedly be charged to court soon.

Elder Bawa Buba with his wife and Pastor Rikwense Muri were at the State Command of the Nigeria Police Force to receive her.

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. We have committed to a long-term mission in Nigeria. When they are able to return home, we will be there to encourage and 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 orphan-306x4601them. 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

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!
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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