This past Sunday was the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church. Millions of Christians prayed for their brothers and sisters who live in harm's way because of their allegiance to Christ. But our prayers must continue until the slaughter of Christians ends.
The State Department released its annual report on terrorism last Friday and this year, one area, in particular, stands out. The Sahel region of Africa has had double the attacks since last year.
One State Department official identified this trend as discouraging and notes in the Sahel, terrorists are finding a haven in this area south of the Sahara. In speaking to reporters, the official stated:
“Terrorist fighters are always looking for the next battleground. I think we’re concerned about the possibility that jihadis who’ve been defeated in Syria might relocate elsewhere.”
Afghanistan and the Sahel appear to be the two major destinations. In Burkina Faso, the State Department recorded 150 terrorist attacks in 2018, triple the number counted the previous year, by means including car bombs, targeted assassination, and other attacks.
Of particular concern is Nigeria. Africa’s most populated country is strongly divided along religious lines, with a Muslim majority in the north and a Christian majority in the south.
There are 80 million professing Christians in Nigeria, a nation whose history, in part, was made by freed slaves who took the Gospel to Africa following the abolition of slavery in England in 1833.
But today, it’s dangerous to be a Christian in Nigeria. The militant Islamist group, Boko Haram, has grown in the north, aided by the Fulani herdsmen who adhere to a strict form of Islam. The goal of both of these terrorist groups is to eradicate Christianity in Nigeria.
According to Voice of the Martyrs:
Nearly all Christians in northeastern Nigeria have lost family members due to the violence perpetrated by the terrorist groups. Entire congregations have been displaced, and many pastors have been forced to leave the region. Being active in the church looks much different than it did 15 years ago. Today, it takes great courage and faith to openly worship and serve Christ. Thousands of Christians remain in camps designated for internally displaced people. With few schools able to operate because of the violence, families are concerned about their children's education. Life is a constant struggle and, in some places, it's even difficult to find food.
Former Virginia Congressman Frank Wolf has been and remains a strong clear voice against religious persecution. He remembers what happened when we ignored the genocide in Rwanda and Darfur, resulting in the deaths of hundreds of thousands. He writes:
“Nigeria is the largest country in Africa with approximately 200 million people, and if it implodes, it will be an existential threat to Europe and the West. What very few people understand is that Boko Haram has killed more people in Nigeria than ISIS killed in Iraq and Syria combined.”
The Church in America must not be silent on the persecution of Christians in Nigeria. Pastors, lead us in prayer for the persecuted Church—not just on one day out of the year, but consistently throughout the year; Fellow believers—let’s use our voices to speak out against the atrocities in Nigeria by telling Washington to act now.That’s my opinion. I’m Janet Parshall.
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Janet Parshall has been broadcasting from the nation's capital for over two decades. Her passion is to "equip the saints" through intelligent conversation based on biblical truth. When she is not behind her microphone, Janet is speaking across the country on issues impacting Christians. She has authored several books, including her latest, Buyer Beware: Finding Truth in the Marketplace of Ideas. Parshall and her husband, Craig, live in Virginia, and have four children and six grandchildren.
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