Nigeria (MNN) — Last Wednesday, Boko Haram carried out their bloodiest attack this year in northeast Nigeria, according to Amnesty International in a statement to DAILY POST. Gunfire and three suicide attacks in Maiduguri killed 17 and injured at least 34 people.
Some of the attacks targeted other Muslims in the community, as explosions detonated in and around the local mosques. David Taylor with Christian Aid Mission says this isn’t surprising, considering Boko Haram’s extremist ideology.
“Boko Haram doesn’t spare anybody. They’ve been attacking both Christians and Muslims, and now that Christians have been driven out of the area, their attack is primarily affecting Muslim people…. They view their version of Islam as being the ‘pure Islam’, so any group that is not conforming with their standards is subject to attack. It’s a way to impose their viewpoint on everybody else.”
A Worldview Devoid of the Gospel
Taylor postures the timing of the attack during Ramadan is also likely not a coincidence. “During Ramadan, it’s a time where Muslims are particularly devoted to their faith…. This is a time when Muslims are thinking about how they can please God — and for many Muslims, that means going on jihad; that means doing things that are, in our eyes, completely evil.”
He says the extremist Islamic worldview and the resulting jihad reveals how Muslims — and all of mankind — are in desperate need of the Gospel.
“For Muslims doing this, they’re doing it because they’re coming from an ideology where they have no assurance of salvation, and the only assurance that Islam gives them is if they die in jihad, they can be right with God. So it’s an amazing contrast between the Gospel and between something that is the complete opposite. And I really think it’s a way for us to understand…how important the Gospel is — that without the Gospel, this is the darkness that results from not having Jesus Christ.”
Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari has said several times he considers the threat of Boko Haram to be contained. And while it’s true that the Nigerian government has made significant advances to push back Boko Haram militants and reclaim territory, the Muslim extremist group continues to commit heinous crimes in their goal to establish an Islamic caliphate in the nation.
“The people we’re working with on the ground are telling us that what Boko Haram has done is they’ve kind of adapted to the new situation. Their main places, their main bases of operation have been destroyed, but what they’re doing now is they’re operating from more remote areas in a more guerilla warfare style. So they’re going in and doing surprise attacks like what we saw just recently, and then they retreat back into the forest and into remote areas. So it’s difficult to predict when they will strike and it’s difficult to pursue them because they do it in a very quick way.”
Christian Aid has even witnessed Boko Haram’s effect on their ministry partner’s outreach. “The ministry partner we have been working with, they have been operating in this northeast part of Nigeria for about 20 years, and they had about five mission bases in the area. They’ve had to close down four of them.”
Christ in the IDP Camps
“But it’s also a time of harvest among these people,” assures Taylor. “There are about two million people who have been displaced — one million of them are living in IDP (internally displaced person) camps — and because they’re from many different places, many different villages, many different tribes, [our ministry partner has] been able to continue their work in those IDP camps. They’ve seen more people come to Christ in those camps than in all the previous years in the northeastern part of Nigeria.”
Ministry partners with Christian Aid are helping women rebuild their homes, get farms and livelihoods started, assist in community resettlement, and fold believers into the local Body of Christ.
Taylor says they’ve even see God do the miraculous. “One of the great thing that’s happened is there have actually been people who have come to Christ in these camps who are from Boko Haram. When they’ve seen the love of Christ shared in very practical ways in these camps from Christians, it’s really moved their hearts.”
Loving Nigeria’s Affected Children
Currently, one of the biggest initiatives Taylor says could use your support and prayers is the ongoing ministry to Nigerian children who have been traumatized.
“Boko Haram, their very name literally means ‘Western education is bad, is evil’, so they very specifically target education. They take over schools, they use them as bases of operation, so kids are afraid. They’re afraid to go to school, they’re afraid they could be attacked at any time. Imagine growing up in this environment.
“The ministry partners we work with are very specifically helping kids work through trauma and helping them get into education programs that are safe for them and safe environments. But this is going to leave a whole generation of young people scarred from what they’ve seen. God can use that though. God can use the contrast with the love of His people reaching out.”
Click here if you’d like to give to Christian Aid where most needed as they support ministry initiatives in Nigeria.
And please be in prayer for the children and families who have been devastated by Boko Haram’s attacks. Pray that God would draw near to them and that they would find comfort in the arms of their Heavenly Father.
Pray also for the eyes of Boko Haram fighters to be opened to their need for God’s grace and forgiveness.