Nigerian extremists repay Christian hospitality with murder

Nigerian extremists repay Christian hospitality with murder

The brutal persecution of Nigerian Christians continues. As violence builds and people lose their lives because of their relationships with Jesus, the Church in Nigeria urges the rest of the world to keep listening to their cries.

Extremist groups like Boko Haram and the Fulani herdsmen push for extremist Sharia – a fundamentalist version of Islam characterized by an unwavering demand to follow the Quran – to become the law of Nigeria. That would mean more than 200 million Nigerians would be forced to follow Sharia, even though Christians make up nearly half of the country’s population.

In an interview with Greg Musselman of Voice of the Martyrs Canada, Mark Lipdo of Stefanos Foundation said “We the Christians have raised our voices against the demand for Sharia, and we have also called the international community to look at that.”

But even if they can’t get Sharia implemented across Nigeria, these militant groups will still leave their mark on Nigeria. According to some victims who have encountered these groups, “They come in successions. Some come in front [and] carry firearms, and they shoot sporadically, scaring people. They are followed by those who carry machetes, whoever they come across, they hunt them down. They make sure that they kill them brutally so that they scare people away from those communities.”

What’s devastating is that Christians who are now being hunted know these extremists. Many Christians have even invited them into their homes. Many of these groups started as wandering nomads who moved from place to place. In some communities, Christians provided these nomads with food or places to stay. “These people have enjoyed the hospitality of the Christians over the years,” Lipdo says. “All of a sudden, these people you have known as good people are supposed to be living with you in your favor, they’re now behaving like your masters, making demands, and attacking and killing you.”

What’s more, officials seem uninterested in intervening. “The government is not treating it as a threat to humanity,” Lipdo says. “We are expected to live with people that arise at any time and do such havoc. This is the plight of the Christians here.”

So what does a Christ-like reaction look like? According to Lipdo, the response needs to be one of love. “We continue to love even to our death, hoping that the government administration we depend on will somehow solve this problem,” Lipdo says. “We don’t have an option, but to love. As Christians, once you stop being a Christian, or stop loving somebody, you’re becoming worse than what you profess.”

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