02-27-2016 – Christian Broadcasting Network

The world’s deadliest terrorist group is not in the Middle East. It’s in Nigeria, where Islamic regime Boko Haram and other violent groups killed more than 4,000 Christians in 2015.

According to a new report released by Open Doors, the death toll in the Northern part of the country has increased by 62 percent since 2014.

A decade of violence has nearly destroyed the church, killed thousands of believers, and driven away more than 1 million.

But for the first time, the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) is doing something about it by endorsing a commitment to revive the church nationwide.

CAN which is comprised of Protestant, indigenous evangelical, Pentecostal and Catholic churches who believe that there is still a large Christian presence in northern Nigeria that has the potential to “unite and stand strong.”

“Most of the time, our brethren from southern Nigeria are ignorant of what is happening in northern Nigeria,” said Samuel Dali, president of the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria. “We want the churches in the south and other parts of Nigeria to see this terrorism as not only for the churches in the north but for the whole country, because whatever affects Christians in northern Nigeria, eventually it will affect the rest of the country.”

At the same time, CAN and Open Doors have jointly published a detailed study on the violence in order to place a demand on the Nigerian government, stop the violence and guarantee religious freedom.

CAN also requested that the U.N investigate the atrocities.

“This targeted violence, discrimination, and marginalization of Christians in northern Nigeria, if unchecked…could lead to the extinction of the Christian faith and Christian communities in northern Nigeria,” stated CAN in its new declaration. “Christians in the northern region have for long been abandoned to their own fate by the Nigerian authorities.”

The report states that it is crucial that the Church in northern Nigeria finds “a way to not close in on itself or disengage from society”.

“This is the first time we’re going public to sign a declaration which gives the true picture of the persecution Christians are going through in this country,” said Musa Asake, CAN general secretary. “This event gives us an opportunity to let the entire world know what the Christians in Nigeria have been going through.”

Religion-based violence has killed an estimated 11,500 Christians in Northern Nigeria, the report indicates. It also states that from 2006-2014, there were 13,000 churches that were either destroyed or closed all together, while 1.3 million Christians fled to safer regions in the country.

The report states that church leaders feel that the outlook is bleak.

“Many Christians say they face harassment, hatred, marginalization, intimidation, and violence,” the report stated. “They have very limited freedom to worship and to build churches. They have no real voice in public media, have hardly any access to government positions for employment, and are barely represented in local politics. Young Christians feel discrimination at school.”

But CAN said its member denominations will “act decisively and responsibly” to demand Nigeria’s government “rise up to her responsibility” to protect its people and guarantee freedom of religion.


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