As tensions in the country mount in the wake of religiously-motivated violence and nationwide fuel protests, Nigerian Christians are asking for your prayers during volatile times in their nation.
Urgent prayer needed: Join in on 6 and 7 January 2012
Christians in Nigeria are asking for prayer and fasting on 6 and 7 of January, for their nation – please join in if you can.
Nigeria is facing precarious times:
• Angered by continuous killings of members of their tribes in the north, militia groups in the Niger Delta have threatened to respond in kind from now onwards and warned northerners to leave the area. In response Boko Haram, the Islamist extremist militia responsible for much of the increased violence during the last year, including Christmas Day attacks that claimed at least 40 lives, gave Christians a three-day deadline to leave, which expired yesterday, and advised northerners in the south to return to their traditional areas.
• Some international and local observers are increasingly raising the spectre of a division of Nigeria, with many equating the country with Sudan, without taking into account the vast number of Christians from tribes indigenous to the north, and of Muslims indigenous to the south.
• There are ongoing country-wide protests following the government’s removal of a fuel subsidy. Major trade unions have announced an indefinite strike and mass demonstrations starting Monday unless the decision is reversed.
• Fifty people were killed in an inter-ethnic clash in Ebonyi State, eastern Nigeria last week.
Over 40 people killed in Christmas Day attacks
Over 40 people are thought to have died in a series of Christmas Day bomb and gun attacks that targeted churches and members of the security services in five states in northern and central Nigeria. The Islamist militia Boko Haram claimed responsibility for the attacks, which occurred in Niger, Plateau, Yobe, Adamawa and Borno States.
The majority of fatalities occurred at St Theresa’s Catholic Church in Madalla, Niger State, where bombers in a vehicle hurled explosives at the congregation at the end of mass. Sources told Christian Solidarity Worldwide-Nigeria (CSW-N) that in several cases the blast claimed entire families, some of whom were burnt beyond recognition in their cars. In the case of one family, the sole survivor was a thirteen year-old girl called Chidinma, who had not attended church that day.
Series of explosions across five states
Multiple explosions across five states were reported:
• A Mountain of Fire Ministries church in Jos was targeted, but there were no casualties.
• Multiple explosions occured in Damaturu, capital of Yobe State, where fighting between security forces and Boko Haram had claimed over 60 lives earlier in the week. An attack on a congregation in Gadaka damaged cars but claimed no lives
• A bomb exploded at a hotel in Mubi in Adamawa State injuring one person, but other bombs planted around three churches were reportedly disarmed.
• In the Wasin Umurari area of Maiduguri, capital of Borno State, six people died in an attack launched by suspected Boko Haram gunmen.
Christians fear for their safety
Following the attacks, many Christians felt increasingly vulnerable, with some avoiding church gatherings for fear of becoming victims. Some from the south are fleeing the region. In response the government temporarily closed its borders with Chad, Niger and Cameroon, and instituted a state of emergency in the most violence-prone areas of Plateau, Yobe, Borno and Niger States.
I want to…
• For the unity and peace of the nation, despite talk of religious cleansing, ethnic violence, possible civil war and division.
• That God would work out His purpose for the country’s future and grant wisdom and divine strategy to the current government.
• For protection for congregations, and for comfort, strength, encouragement and renewed vision for Christians who feel fearful or vulnerable.
• That the plans of those seeking to incite further violence would come to nothing, and that the networks and individuals involved in this activity would be exposed and brought down.
• For comfort for victims and healing for those injured in recent attacks, and that God would provide for those who have lost the family bread-winners. Pray particularly for Chidinma.
• For adequate protection for vulnerable communities, and that those enforcing the law would do so sensitively enough to protect the innocent, but also, rigorously enough to apprehend the guilty.
• That both federal and local authorities would move boldly and decisively to bring about justice for victims, peace and reconciliation.
Source: Christian Solidarity Worldwide