In Nigeria, church members pray for their girls to come home (Updated)
Update: Contacts in Nigeria say that some of the kidnapped…
(Feature image above) In Villa Unión, a Mexican town just west of the Texas border, a young woman named Claudia beams brightly as she emerges from the waters of baptism. Her family, part of Mexico’s indigenous community, makes a living picking chiles and moved from city to city until Claudia convinced them to stay in Villa Unión because “she has fallen in love with the church,” said missionary Jim Taylor. Claudia, who is blind, “never misses a service, Sunday or Wednesday,” with the Church of Christ, Taylor said. Her baptism happened a few weeks before churches stopped in-person services due to COVID-19.
ZAGREB — A 5.3-magnitude earthquake woke people in this Central European capital on a Sunday morning — in the midst of the nation’s coronavirus lockdown.
The quake damaged older buildings in Zagreb and toppled bookshelves in the libraries of The Biblical Institute of Zagreb, a minstry-training school associated with Churches of Christ. No deaths were reported.
“The saddest picture (from just after the earthquake) is of all the women with newborn babies on the street in the front of the hospital,” said Mladen Dominic, minister for the Church of Christ in Varazdin, Croatia. The morning of the quake was frigid, he said.
“All of it (the quake and the pandemic) has turned us even closer to the Lord,” Dominic said. “We are praying for those people who are now contacting us and who are seeking the Lord.”
KINGSTON — Churches of Christ in Jamaica’s capital were set to host the 50th Carribean Lectureship this summer, but COVID-19 has pushed the dates to July 11-14, 2021, said Ken Dye, the lectureship’s founder.
“It will only take 51 years to celebrate our year of Jubilee,” Dye told The Christian Chronicle.
KIEV — For Churches of Christ in Ukraine, the pandemic brings back memories of 2014, said minister Dmitry Grischuk. That’s when a violent conflict with pro-Russian separatists began in eastern Ukraine, displacing 1.5 million people. Nearly six years later, the conflict continues.
Grischuk oversees a ministry, Let’s Love Good News, that supplies food and necessities to Ukrainians who live near the front lines.
Grischuk said he’s unsure if those deliveries will continue during the pandemic, but the flexibility and creativity Christians have learned from the conflict will help them redirect resources to best serve the vulnerable.
BY ERIK TRYGGESTAD | THE CHRISTIAN CHRONICLE
Islamic terrorist group Boko Haram has killed four members of Churches of Christ who were training to become preachers.
The church members — Shedrack Simon, Josiah Amos, Ayuba Hamman and Markus Bitrus — were traveling by bus from the southern Nigerian state of Akwa Ibom, where they were studying at Truegate Bible College in the town of Oron, to Maiduguri, a city in northeast Nigeria, on March 28.
The terrorists forced the bus to stop and separated its Christian and Muslim passengers, said a Nigerian minister who requested that his name be withheld for security reasons.
Those who identified themselves as Christians, including the four preaching students, “were hacked down by the terrorists using machetes,” the minister told The Christian Chronicle.
The bodies of the four students were buried under the supervision of the Wulari-Jerusalem Church of Christ, a 200-member congregation in Maiduguri.
The students, all under age 20, grew up in the northern Nigerian state of Borno, which has endured multiple attacks by Boko Haram in the past decade, including the abduction of 276 schoolgirls in 2014 from the town of Chibok.
Hamman worshiped with a Church of Christ in a small village before he decided to train to become a preacher.
Simon was the son of a minister for a Church of Christ in another village. That village “was sacked and now is desolate” because of Boko Haram, the Nigerian minister said, so the family relocated to Chibok.
Before enrolling in the Bible college, Amos and Bitrus had left their homes in Borno state to attend a secondary school operated by Elkanah Madaki in a neighboring state.
Most schools in Borno are unable to operate because of the violence, so Madaki, a Christian who grew up in Borno, and his wife launched the school and enrolled children from Borno.
Bitrus became the school’s “head boy,” a title used in British schools for an elected class representative and role model. Bitrus “was one of the best science students of 2018 class,” Madaki said. Bitrus had planned to study medicine but decided to switch to preaching after last year’s death of his father, minister Bitrus Bwala.
Amos excelled at mathematics, Madaki said. He served as a church treasurer and worked as an electrician.
In a social media post, Madaki wrote to his former students.
“We are encouraged by your zeal and bravery as soldiers of the Lord,” he wrote. “At the point of death, you did not deny Christ. May the souls of the martyrs rest with the Lord.”
Madaki praised Churches of Christ in Chibok and Maiduguri for the support they’ve shown to the students’ families.
He also asked for prayers for the community and the Nigerian government as it seeks to protect the country from terrorists and the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We also pray (for) God to forgive the perpetrators of this wicked act,” he wrote, “that they may see the light of Christ and shun evil.”
Subscribe today to receive more inspiring articles like this one delivered straight to your inbox twice a month.
Your donation helps us not only keep our quality of journalism high, but helps us continue to reach more people in the Churches of Christ community.