My Question: What do we do in the face of open persecution?

(Jeri Bidi) #1

Hi everyone, am from a minority group in Southern Kaduna, Nigeria. In my country, we (Christains) currently live in fear that our nation is being Islamized. As of the moment, almost all of the top government offices are held by Muslims of the Fulani tribe. Southern Kaduna, where my home town and majority of Christains in Kaduna are situated, is plagued with violence as Fulani herdsmen, heavily armed and well funded continue to kill men, women and children who are not Muslims. My people are forced to fight back in their attempt to defend themselves but end up killing basically any Muslim in sight leading to a series of reprisal attacks. The most recent occurred yesterday after the postponement of the national elections. In my home town, every home is expected to release an adult male child to perform vigilante duties at night when such attacks become frequent. Late last year, one of our Chiefs was kidnapped and killed after attending a meeting with the incumbent governor where he refused a proposal that required traditional rulers in Southern Kaduna (Christains) to be subjects of the Emirates (Muslims).
The government hardly condemns these attacks, our governor on national television admitted compensating these herdsmen meanwhile, nothing is being done to rehabilitate the villages burnt down by these men.

My question is, what do we do in a situation like this other than watch and pray? Is it bad if we fight back?

4 Likes
(SeanO) #2

@Bidi I recommend listening to the linked interview with Gideon Para-Mallam, a Nigerian Christian who has some good thoughts on how to respond.

If we want to protest we’ve got to be like Jesus. Gideon Para-Mallam

Christians are now saying we can no longer just fold are arms, so they are coming out in (peaceful) protest. Gideon Para-Mallam

Gideon attended Ahmadu Bello University in Nigeria, where he was born and currently lives and works as the IFES Regional Secretary for English and Portugese-speaking Africa. His mission experiences include projects in the UK, Niger Republic, and Maguzawa unreached people group. He is the former regional secretary for the International Fellowship of Evangelical Students, the international version of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship

Nigerian Christians are Are Exhausted from Terror: Will They Fight Back? CT Interview of Para-Mallam

Info From Open Doors

3 Likes
(Jeri Bidi) #3

So in summary Sean, we keep watch and pray and hope things get better?

2 Likes
(SeanO) #4

@Bidi No, I do not think that is what Gideon Para-Mallam was saying. I think he was saying that you should protest - you should make your voice heard, but do so peacefully - like Martin Luther King Jr. during the Civil Rights movement in America.

For example, in the news recently the Christians have joined together to protest this mistreatment:

The Christian Association of Nigeria has embarked on a massive mobilisation of churches across the federation for peaceful protests on Sunday against incessant killings by suspected Fulani herdsmen in the country.

The Catholic Church in Nigeria will hold a major protest this weekend against ongoing killings by Fulani herdsmen against Christians and others.

Vengeance Belongs to God / Love Your Enemy

As Christians, we are called to respond to evil with kindness. I am not claiming that is easy - but I think what the Christians are doing in Nigeria now is a great example to all of us. Christ called us to be as He was in the world - to love our enemies.

Jesus’ teaching is not easy, but He did not say it would be - He calls us to love even as God has loved us.

Romans 12:17-21 - Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary:

“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Luke 6:27-36 - “But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. 29 If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. 30 Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. 31 Do to others as you would have them do to you.

32 “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. 34 And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. 35 But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. 36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

6 Likes
(Kathleen) #6

@Bidi! My heart continues to break for Nigeria and you all there facing intense persecution. Is this the event you were speaking of?

My friend Hassan (who wrote that article) is an extraordinary man. He’s from Jos, and he’s documented many of the atrocities that have happened. He has wrestled with your exact question as well.

The article below featuring him is over 3 years old, but one of the things he found God calling him to do was beginthis reconciliation initiative.

I don’t know where your community is right now after this horrific attack, but I do know that God is always at work. Praying for wisdom for you and all, dear brother.

5 Likes
(C Rhodes) #7

@Bidi. Thank you for sounding this alarm. When you hear of this type of persecution the first reaction is a tightening in the chest and a need to do something, anything. We may feel as if prayer is more about inactivity than it is a positive resolution and actual action.

Sometimes it seems more poignant to lay our hands to the problem. But if our natural strength was sufficient to solve the problem, or our governments were fair and righteous enough to bring resolution; the problem would not exist. It would not dare raise its voice in our midst. Natural strength is not enough.

The true battle occurs when we face off in warfare with spiritual wickedness in high places. Those places can only be touched in prayer. Your situation is so overwhelming I am not sure how to pray but know you do not stand alone in that warfare. I will see how I can support the church from where I live. Open Doors seems to be a possible avenue of support. But the prayer will be paramount. The collective prayer will be the power that shows the might of GOD.

“16 Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.
17 But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues;
18 And ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles.
19 But when they deliver you up, take no thought how or what ye shall speak: for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak.
20 For it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you.
21 And the brother shall deliver up the brother to death, and the father the child: and the children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death.
22 And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved.” Matthew 10:16-22 KJV. Persecution of the Church of JESUS CHRIST is not new. Don’t let our enemy make you believe otherwise. The Nigerian Church stands among a great cloud of witnesses.

In the words of our brother Sean O in other postings. “May God grant you victory as you stand up as a light for Him in the midst of a broken world!” GOD grant you wisdom and peace. This you will need to continue to trust Him even in the seemly impossible.

It would be nice if you could stay in touch and if its allowed, keep us informed of your situation.

6 Likes
(Brittany Bowman) #8

Thanks for the update on the situation in your home and your heartfelt question, Jerry. Please know I am lifting up prayers for your family and country tonight.

3 Likes
(Jeri Bidi) #9

Thank you all for your response, i am truly grateful. I am new here and I regret not being here earlier than now. I only started watching Ravi late last year and he has been quite an inspiration to me and the people around me who I share his videos with.
Reading all your response got me emotional with my eyes all teary…I truly am a poor Christain.

@SeanO, thank you so much sir, am aware of the teachings of Christ on how to respond to evil, in fact, back when I was President of our student departmental association in my last year, I was betrayed by my Secretary and Treasurer who were both Muslims, I felt so bad. When I confronted them with other executives of our association, they weren’t even remorseful. I prayed about it and left it to God.
I will admit, lately I haven’t been studying the Bible as I use to, guess that’s why am filled with much anger and hate. I will study more, thank you Sean.

@MontyD, thank you sir for your concern. Currently am on a compulsory one year youth service, deployed to a state far from Kaduna. But i would get in contact with members of my community back at home to know what kind of aid is needed. Personally, I feel we need education and jobs, a lot our youths hardly go beyond Secondary School. Our governor closed down an extension of the state University located in Southern Kaduna. Most of our people are farmers but they are scared of going to the farms so as to avoid being attacked by herdsmen. They need an alternate source of livelihood.
I would do as you’ve adviced and keep you posted. Thank you Monty

@KMac, yes ma’am, that is the event but till this day we are not sure of what really happened. There are reports that the event did not happen on the day it was announced on media. On Friday night, I was awake till 1am as I was part of the Ad-hoc staff mobilized for the conduct of the elections in Edo state. I was in contact with my cousin in Kaduna who is a Presiding Officer at his polling unit, I asked him what was happening in Kaduna, he said nothing was going on. I told him to confirm, he replied that nothing was happening other than the elections being postponed.
For a fact, people were killed but the numbers and time of occurrence, I cannot state with certainty.
Rumour has it that the Governor, a Muslim/Fulani, engineered the event. That way, the violence will make the election results in our region (Southern Kaduna) to be null and void. Other reports revealed that the event did not happen on the eve of the elections.
Thank you for your prayers

@cer7, thank you so much, i know our calling is that of love and sacrifice, it gets increasingly difficult when the pressure is from both sides. A distant relative of mine was killed in his farm, my brothers and a cousin of mine had no choice but to volunteer in the community vigilante team. If you refuse to volunteer you become more or less an outcast. It’s difficult to tell them in the face to “turn the other cheek”. But I understand it’s necessary they do. Thank God though, in my hometown, Kagoro (Kaura LGA), it has been relatively peaceful lately.
Thank you, will try to keep you posted on the situation

@Brittany_Bowman1 thank you for your prayers, I truly am grateful

8 Likes
(SeanO) #10

@Bidi Praying for you brother! That is a hard situation. I think anyone would be angry after being mistreated and it is only by the power of God’s Spirit that we can have love in such situations. May God give you a deeper desire for His Word and may the Spirit of Christ fill you with love, joy and peace.

Ephesians 1:17-21 - I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit[f] of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. 18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, 19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength 20 he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, 21 far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come.

5 Likes
(Billie Corbett) #11

Hello Bidi,

Thank you for expressing your thoughts, feelings, concerns…to an on line faith community…(who at the very least can uphold you in prayer as you face such fearful, heartbreaking and overwhleming circumstances.)
Please, help us to know how to pray specifically for you and what is happening around you.
As to your question, I would encourage you to take into your heart / mind “Hebrews 12: 1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,
2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
3 Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.
4 In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood.”

Try to remember, if the world crucified the Lord of Glory…what will it do to us his children? This is frightening…but, the followers of Jesus have suffered persecution since the beginning of the establishment of His Kingdom.
“10Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. 12Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets before you.…”

Remember you are loved. You have eternal life. Your life is hidden in Christ.

Even as I write these words, I know how hard it must be for you to hear or recieve them…given the cruelity of those who are brutalizing your faith community.

Just recently I’ve become friends with a wonderful Nigerian believing woman. We have been spending every Sunday evening in prayer. She has been so committed to seeking the lost here in Canada, that she rented a space in a community hall … to pray for frevently for the surrounding community and for Canada.

Now, I will bring to this time of prayer…the Nigerian people…and you in particular.

2 Likes
(Marty Pomeroy) #12

@Bidi My heart breaks for your situation and for so much injustice in the world. Humans cause far more misery than all the disease and disasters put together. God must weep, as do we.

I am not sure if RZIM has an official position on issues like this. If they do, and someone wishes to make that clear, then I certainly respect that, along with the points presented by other posters here.

However I personally am not convinced that pacifism is a universal requirement of Jesus. I know that if someone broke into my home and threatened my family I would fight to stop them. What mother would not give her own life to protect her children from someone trying to harm them?

You asked if it is bad to “fight back.” But that can mean many things. Hopefully this will clarify.

First, I think in Matthew 5:38-48 Jesus is talking to me about my response to someone who has wronged me. He outlines personal responses to personal insult or injury. In other words, if someone mistreats me, I am to respond with grace and kindness and personally show them God’s love. Much easier to say than to do even that, but I think this is not about your situation.

A slap of my face is not the same as a situation where peoples’ lives are being threatened. Jesus does not mean I have to allow mistreatment of others. A daily reality for police and military everywhere is to use force (sometimes deadly force) to prevent injustice or harm to others, and there are many devoted Christians in those professions.

That being said, it is also important to prevent arbitrary retaliation against the Muslims, to protect the innocent everywhere. So “fight back” to prevent people from being harmed, yes, but “fight back” to intentionally harm others, no. It may be that many of the Muslims see the injustice and are opposed, but are afraid themselves to speak up. And as others have pointed out, we must deal with the anger in our hearts before the Lord so we do not try to take revenge but leave that level of judgment up to God - “Vengeance is mine … says the Lord”.

I’m going to stop there. Perhaps a moderator can elevate this issue for a more official and complete response from RZIM. I sincerely hope I am not confusing this issue, but I know justice matters to God as well as mercy and peacemaking. But allowing others to commit rampant injustice is not, I think, what Jesus was advocating. And if we are going to “fight back”, let us always do so with tears and prayers and “come Lord Jesus!”

God bless you in your struggles of this day!

Marty

2 Likes
(Jeri Bidi) #13

@Billie, thank you so much for your response,[quote=“Billie, post:11, topic:13040”]
In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood
[/quote] this verse broke me few days back when I read it from someone’s post here (sorry I can’t remember who). After I made this post, I have been making notes from the responses I’ve received so far and from other posts, I am truly grateful. I understand Christ is the perfect example of what we should be, an embodiment of perfection. As @SeanO pointed out in his comment, drawing from the book of Romans, we are called to a higher standard, if not the highest standard, to repay evil with good, to be kind to those who hate us. It is the only way we can set ourselves apart from our persecutors and from sinners (Luke 6:32-36).

I do believe I am getting stronger, thank you all for your prayers and kind words.

@marty.pomeroy, @SeanO didn’t really suggest pacifism, he suggested something more of a movement, a peaceful protest like that of Martin Luther King Jr. Although slow to yield results, history has it to be the most effective means of improving human rights if am not mistaken, drawing from the experience of Ghandi, Mandela and King Jr. himself. I really considered fighting back. I thought of quitting school just to go join my brothers doing vigilante duties years ago. But again, violence begat violence, fostering a spiral of further killings.
As for justice, I don’t think we would get it on Earth, I feel God left man the day man decided to play God. Not that God doesn’t reveal himself to man, he just doesn’t do it the old testament style. Till the world ends, there will be wars, injustice, famine, poverty…I mean the world is not our home right? So for me, I just want to focus on getting up there with as many people as I can rather than staying down here.

Am sorry if I sound a bit off or out of point, am still taking baby steps :blush:.

God bless you too @marty.pomeroy, thank you.

3 Likes
(Kathleen) #14

@Bidi As I am reading of yet another brutal attack, this time on the village Dogon Noma, I am thinking of you and wondering how you are and your family?

2 Likes