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More woes in Nigeria: Violence between Christians and Muslims on the rise

Children gather for Sunday school at the Obong Church of Christ in southern Nigeria in 2005. Nigeria’s predominantly Christian south hasn’t suffered the violence endured in northern Nigeria, but fuel price hikes, kidnappings and unrest have plagued the entire country. (Photo by Erik Tryggestad)

Recent attacks against churches in Nigeria have brought Christians around the world to their knees, praying for stability and peace in the troubled West African nation.
For us at The Christian Chronicle, the news also requires a bit of what Wikipedia calls “disambiguation.”
We received several e-mails and notes — from readers in the U.S. and Africa — after a suicide bomber detonated a car full of explosives outside the headquarters of the Church of Christ in Nigeria during Sunday worship on Feb. 26. The blast killed at least three people, the Associated Press reports.
The Church of Christ in Nigeria, often abbreviated COCIN, is a denomination with no ties to the Churches of Christ that we cover at the Chronicle.
Jos, a city of about 900,000 people, straddles the unofficial border between Nigeria’s predominantly Christian south and Muslim north. In recent years the city has been a flash point of violence between the two faiths, though many Nigerians  say the tensions have less to do with faith and more to do with politics, tribal loyalties and rights to grazing lands.
Churches of Christ (the ones we cover) have a presence in Jos. Several congregations meet in the area, and the city is home to the School of Biblical Studies, a ministry training program.
In 2010, violence near Jos claimed the life of Theodore Essemo Ebulla, a minister and student at the school, as we reported:

The 34-year-old native of Cameroon had preached in a rural Nigerian village and was returning to the School of Biblical Studies in Jos when he encountered a group of rioting Muslims who killed him with machetes, said Steven Worley, a missionary who works with the school.

Read the full story.
In 2006, a Church of Christ and its minister in northern Nigeria were spared from a wave of anti-Christian violence because the congregation had given pencils to its communities Christian — and Muslim — children.
More recently, we reported on the work of Ebenezer Udofia, a Nigerian native who teaches farming techniques in the drought-stricken communities of East Africa. Healing Hands International, Udofia’s employer, moved the Nigeria and his family from Jos to Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, partly because of the ongoing violence.
Are you in Nigeria, or do you have friends there? Please send us your thoughts on the country’s current woes, and how you and your congregation are responding. For what should Christians be praying with regard to Nigeria?

  • Feedback
    Geoffrey Kirima
    March, 2 2012

    This tremendous problem is affecting Nigerian Christians and Muslims all over the world. We have an asylum seeker here at the Manhattan Church of Christ who bears the scars of beatings by Boko Haram. (He is also of Church of Christ background) If you’d like to learn more, or write a second piece, contact me and I’ll set something up between you two.
    Mark Barneche
    March, 5 2012

    The present attack by the Boko haram sect to Christians is a deceptive means by the sect for people to think that their quests is religion. I have lived in Nigeria for more than thirty five years. It is the northern politicians that are sponsoring the sects because someone from the south is the president. Nigerians knows who the boko haram are. They are in the presidency,they are in the military,they are every where,but the area I like Christians all over the world to pray is for God to intervene in this matter very urgently because Nigeria is due to be divided into four countries or else mark my word another civil war is coming to Nigeria Again. The day the sect will dare bomb a church in the south the story will change.
    Chinedum Nwankwo
    March, 6 2012

    World Magazine has a thorough article online that is well worth reading. One thing they mention is that the media portrays these attacks as clashes between Christians and Muslims but they don’t provide sources. Here’s part of the article:
    “Mark Lipdo, director of the Stefanos Foundation, is working to keep eyewitness logs of the attacks�in part because he sees Western media and human-rights activists using secondhand information that’s misleading: “They have misrepresented violence as a clash when it was an outright attack from the Muslim minority.”
    Lipdo himself was on hand in 2010 when Muslims gangs raided three predominantly Christian villages near Jos on March 7, slaughtering hundreds of mostly women, children, and the elderly. He saw another village attacked 10 days later where Muslim gangs killed at least a dozen people and burned at least 15 homes.”
    Here’s the link: http://www.worldmag.com/articles/19236
    Lowell White
    March, 7 2012

    I’m a member at North Atlanta Church of Christ. We help support an orphanage and Christian school in Nigeria, Right Steps, Inc. I’m not sure where they are in location to the violence that is going on in Nigeria, but they do cross my mind whenever I hear about any reports from the country.
    March, 12 2012

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