BY PETER OWEN
In the Cross-hairs
Christians in Nigeria continue to find themselves in the cross-hairs of ethno-religious violence. As the numbers of lives lost continue to rise, so does the risk of Christian faith. The rate of shootings, suicide bombings, car bombings, burnings and murders continue to come to our attention. The seemingly endless stream of news on suffering Christians in Nigeria can be disheartening. In a conversation mixed with genuine frustration and concern ICC’s own William Stark, Regional Manager for Africa, put it best, “How much longer do I need to read about the attacks on suffering Christians in Nigeria? I would like to have one Sunday where I did not have to report on another church bombing in Nigeria.” It is not easy to read horrible stories of the violence inflicted on our brothers and sisters, but like you we have made our resolve to stand with them. It gives us encouragement to be able to provide for the needs of suffering Christians in dire circumstances like the one in Nigeria. This past November ICC successfully delivered aid to suffering Christian farmers in Nigeria. This aid is another step against the mounting campaign of terror; it is one way to say, “We are with you.”
How it all Started
The election of President Goodluck Jonathan in the spring of 2011 marked change for many, especially for Christians in the northern region of Soba, Nigeria. The Muslim-dominated region served as the backdrop for inhuman cruelty and brutality as violence broke out in protest to the newly elected president. The angry mobs went on from town to town in violent protest; leaving destroyed churches, homes, and families in their wake.
As news continues to come in from the wreckage of April 2011, ICC has continued to provide assistance to suffering Christians in Nigeria. After learning about a specific group of farmers in Soba Nigeria, ICC along with trusted partners, labored to support their need. By your help, ICC was able to provide UREA fertilizer to 43 Farmers and their families. The fertilizer will allow the farmers to re-develop land scorched during the attacks. With this humble gift, the farmers will be able to begin working towards rebuilding what has been lost and continue to support themselves and their families. The assistance to these farmers is another humble way your support has enabled us to be a voice for the voiceless and defend the rights of the oppressed. We continue to labor for people like these farmers who suffer for the cause of faith.
As we continue to strategize and work out ways to combat violence in Nigeria by overcoming it with good we recognize the issue has many fronts and each one counts. For the farmers in Soba, the lands that were once scorched can now be replanted. Where fire came in to consume, new life will sprout. This is our hope for all of Nigeria; where terror would break down; we pray suffering Christians would be built up stronger than before. Nothing is too small, nor insignificant when helping those in need; even a glass of water to the thirsty is a blessing (Matt. 10:24). I like what one of the recipients, Mr. Sunday, had to say in thanks;
“I personally want to write to show my profound gratitude to ICC for the gesture done tome and others. A bag of fertilizer was given to me to alleviate my suffering in many ways. In fact, this shows me that I am not alone; there are Christian brethren elsewhere that are ready to share in my sufferings. The one bag you gave me really made me to have a sense of belonging. Really I am more courageous than before. More so it is as you gave me bags of grain…”
The barrage of news on suffering Christians is not easy to take, but the opportunity to bring a cup of water to the ones who sweat daily in the field is my reward, and yours. Together, may we continue to overcome evil with good and support those in the vineyard.