The Nigerian Islamist sect Boko Haram has killed at least 935 people since it launched an uprising in 2009, including more than 250 in the first weeks of this year, Human Rights Watch said on Tuesday. Boko Haram, which means “Western education is sinful” in the Hausa language spoken in northern Nigeria, is loosely modeled on Afghanistan’s Taliban. It has claimed responsibility for bombing churches, police stations, military facilities, banks and beer parlours in the mainly Muslim north of Nigeria.
The sect focuses its attacks mostly on the police, military and government, but has recently increased its attacks on Christian institutions. It says it is fighting enemies who have wronged its members through violence, arrests or economic neglect and corruption.
What should be our reaction as Christians in the face of such violence?
Of course, we must pray for Nigeria, and for our brothers and sisters there. We must also actively engage in sharing our faith and the love of Christ in the midst of all this pain and uncertainty. We must speak out the message of Christ – LOVE IS STRONGER THAN DEATH.
After the terrible events of 9/11 in new York, what a joy to know that in the middle of international outrage, personal and public mourning and a world at prayer that Dr Billy Graham called the nation of America to remember the love of God. God has not forgotten us. 2,000 years ago God made His love known to all humankind. On the cross Jesus paid the price of love – death, and then three days later conquered death and rose from the dead. This is the hope of all humanity and this is our message which we proclaim and by which we live.
But how can love deal with the things we have seen in recent days in Nigeria? Those in power and those in the street must hear the voice of love. Only love can drive out fear and heal the hurt. Love is the only thing that will turn calls of retaliation and vengeance into clear-headed action and justice against terrorism in all its forms. Only love will put a stop to the mindless blaming of all Muslims everywhere for these atrocities. Extremist Muslims do not represent the vast majority of people they pretend to be speaking for.
Love will bring us to our knees in prayer. God has promised to bring good things out of evil. After the destruction and the devastation, we must pray there will come blessing upon the nations. Nigeria is at prayer and God will move.
Love will cause us to act practically. Actions speak louder than words. We must act and show our support of Nigeria. Love will also lead us to stand with Israel. We must not allow any anti-Semitic attitudes to grip the church. In my view, that will be a growing temptation for us as the nations continue to harden their attitude to Israel. This nation is still serving the purpose of God to bring blessing to the whole world. Christians must honour their Jewish roots and remember that without the nation of Israel we would not have our Bible, our Messiah or our salvation.