(Note: This story comes to us by way of Christian Aid Mission, an agency which partners with native ministries around the world.)
In a country where terrorists and kidnappers operate uncontested, efforts by native missionaries to tend to victims of violence also involve safeguarding workers’ lives.
“For the past seven years or more, our missionaries in the field around Nigeria have been sleeping with one eye opened, while others have lost fields and homes, including relatives, to terrorism and herdsmen’s attacks,” the leader of a native ministry in Nigeria said. “These happenings have made it very hard and extremely frightening to do missions where the unreached people are located.”
Who are the displaced?
More than 2.3 million people are internally displaced in Nigeria, while another 311,000 displaced have made progress toward a sustainable solution, according to Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre figures. Another 550,000 people have fled to Cameroon, Chad and Niger, according to the U.N. Refugee Agency.
Most of the Internally Displaced People (IDP) have fled attacks by Islamic extremist group Boko Haram or raids by heavily armed, Muslim Fulani herdsmen.
“We cannot just watch while our members and those we have gone to reach continue to remain in Internally Displaced People’s camps – we need to show our love.”
Many of the displaced are in remote areas where the native ministry is working with unreached people. Taking advantage of the chaos and isolation in these areas are bandits and kidnappers, magnifying the dangers for workers providing aid and the gospel to unreached people in areas isolated by rivers and mountains or lacking in communication services.
“Hoodlums have taken advantage of these to settle among the people and cause extreme privation in the areas,” the ministry leader said.
Muslim Fulani herdsmen seeking grazing lands among predominantly Christian tribes have made the north-central areas of the country very volatile, he said. Some of the ministry’s most effective church planting and humanitarian work has taken place in the area, including water and boreholes in three villages and a school for the children. Workers have also distributed more than 1,000 audio Bibles in Hausa and other languages.
“We have serious work ongoing there, and the herdsmen have caused so much damage to the area,” he said. “The greatest challenge remains security for the area and for our missionaries. We have suffered losses there – some missionaries killed, and one is still missing for the last three years. We have no idea what happened to him.”
Some reportedly backed by outside terrorist groups, Muslim Fulani herdsmen have killed more than 10,000 people, he said.
“Islam seems to be contesting this zone as they do not wish to see a predominantly Christian zone in the north,” the ministry director said. “This angers them, and so they have sponsored so much killings and church destruction for this reason.”
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SOURCE: Mission Network News, R.B. Klama