Nigerian pastor murdered in machete attack was known for Christian charity, working to foster peace with Muslims

JOS, Nigeria (Morning Star News) – A Muslim mob in northern Nigeria agitated over the killing of a woman by a man they believed had converted to Christianity hacked a pastor to death with machetes last week and burned down his home, church and school, sources said.

The Rev. Yohanna Shuaibu of New Life Church in Kano state’s Massu village, Sumaila County died in the early hours of Sept. 23 after he was attacked the previous night, they said.

“The Muslims felt the young man who killed the woman in a fight is a Christian, and they likely targeted the pastor for attack because it was through the ministry of Pastor Shuaibu that many Muslims were converted to the Christian faith,” said Hosle Tongnan Michael, a friend and colleague of Pastor Shuaibu.

The pastor had taken refuge in neighboring Biri village the previous night, and on Wednesday (Sept. 22) he returned to Massu to evacuate pupils from his school as a precaution, Michael said.

“Pastor Shuaibu believed that the tension generated by the ugly incident was dowsed and thought he could stay with his family and other people in Massu,” Michael said. “However, the Muslims gathered their mob and descended on him, cut him badly with machetes and burned down his house, the church and the school.”

The pastor’s wife and children were able to flee to safety in the dark, he said. Word of the assault reached Christians in nearby villages, and they called police, who took Pastor Shuaibu to a hospital where he was pronounced dead.

Community tensions had begun when the young man said to have left Islam turned himself in to police after killing the Muslim woman, his brother’s wife, during an argument with her on Sept. 21, Michael said.

Area Christians in text messages to Morning Star News said Pastor Shuaibu was killed because his ministry had drawn many Muslims to convert to Christianity. He was chairman of the local chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) in Sumaila County.

“We know that at this kind of time, it is an immeasurable risk to be a Christian, especially in the northern part of Nigeria,” Michael said. “Anyone serving Christ can’t be sure of being alive the following day in northern Nigeria.”

Pastor Shuaibu was key in building a school for indigenous Hausa Christian children, transforming young lives that were otherwise denied access to education because of their faith, Michael said.

“Under his watch, we were able to raise funds and drill boreholes from which Christian communities that were denied access to government sources of water could access water,” he added. “At one point one of the sources of water at the mosque was refurbished by us as our support to the Muslim community, which we believed would foster peace and avert some of the obvious threats against the peaceful Christian brethren.”

He noted the killing and attack on Christian institutions leave the pastor’s family destitute and community bereft, as the pastor “all these years had been serving faithfully by faith with no money.”

“Recently we have heard of how the growth of the missionary base in Massu had been envied by the Muslims, and they wished for its uprooting from the environment for no justifiable reasons,” Michael said. “This is the story of the life of a Christian soldier, the ambassador of the Lord, who was hunted and gruesomely killed at his duty post, and his wrong was that he was a servant of the Lord.”

Leaders of the Hausa Christians Foundation (HACFO) said in a statement that the attack exemplifies the experiences of Christians in northern Nigeria.

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Source: Morning Star News