Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation, is facing a humanitarian crisis. Violent attacks by the Islamic terrorist group, Boko Haram, have caused 1.7 million people to flee their homes. Thousands have been killed.
Followers of Boko Haram have pledged allegiance to ISIS and are said to be influenced by a phrase in the Qur’an that states, “Anyone who is not governed by what God (Allah) has revealed is among the transgressors,” and therefore must be killed.
The EYN Church in Nigeria has likely suffered more than any other group, since they live in the area where Boko Haram is most active. This church group, originally established by Church of the Brethren missionaries from the United States in 1923, had an estimated membership of nearly one million before the conflict began. Many of its members are displaced, more than 8,000 have been killed, and 466 of their church buildings have been destroyed.
A leader of Boko Haram said, “I enjoy killing anyone that Allah commands me to kill, the way I enjoy killing chickens and goats.” One of the group’s members, after his capture, confessed, “Our agenda is to wipe out Christians.”
Boko Haram has kidnapped thousands of children and young girls. Some have been killed. Others have been trained to fight, turned into slaves, or even forced to be suicide bombers.
On a recent investigative trip to Nigeria, CAM staff member Glenn Zimmerman and board member Philip Mast met with those affected by the violence, including a few kidnapped schoolgirls who had managed to escape. Abena (pictured) was fetching water for her family when gunshots and screams erupted from her village. Boko Haram was attacking! She fled into the bush while her family ran the other way, and she has not seen them since. Abena has scoured camps of displaced people but found no sign of them. Now, at thirteen years old, Abena calls herself an orphan.
Abena is only one of the thousands of people affected by the tragic events in Nigeria. Even Muslims who live in the area controlled by Boko Haram are in danger if they do not support the group. Boko Haram rebels mercilessly kill, rape, burn, and destroy. In some villages, so many people were slaughtered that the bodies were thrown into wells, polluting the water supply for the entire area.
Many of the people displaced inside Nigeria and in neighboring Chad, Cameroon, and Niger were forced to watch their families be kidnapped or killed. In addition to these painful memories, they now face the daily need for food, clothing, and shelter. Although the refugees would love to return to their homes, few have families left alive or homes still standing.
To do what we can in this tragic situation, CAM is providing food, clothing, and other emergency aid to these suffering Christians. We also plan to distribute Bibles and Bible story books. Later we hope to assist with shelter, seeds, and possibly other items to help refugees start over. CAM is placing staff in Nigeria to work with our contacts to distribute aid and research needs. Our budget goal for this project is $1 million.
Should you feel led to be involved, your prayers and support will be appreciated as we seek to shine the light of Christ in one of the dark places of the world.
Thank you and God bless you!