Thousands of Believers Killed by Islamic Militants in Nigeria

In the southern part of Kaduna State in Nigeria, Justina and her two-year-old son are mourning the loss of her husband, Nehemiah, who Fulani Islamic militants killed in February.

On the afternoon of 5 February, Nehemiah and one of his friends hopped on a motorbike and rode to a nearby village. Around 1am the next day, a knock awoke Justina at the door. When she opened the door, a neighbour told her that the body of her husband’s friend had been found next to a burning motorcycle. There was no sign of Nehemiah.

“I felt like dying.” – Justina

Justina feared the men had been attacked by militant Islamic Fulani who had recently raided nearby villages. Later that morning, some men from the neighbouring village brought her Nehemiah’s body.

“I felt like dying,” she recalled.

Neighbours took care of Justina’s son while she buried her husband that same day. She later learned that Nehemiah had gone to the nearby village to baptise some new believers who were part of their church.

An Ongoing Crisis

Millions of Fulani live in Nigeria and neighbouring countries. While many are peaceful, some — especially in Nigeria — are militant Muslims. Like other Islamist groups in the region, they target Christians and churches, often stealing land from Christians to use for their own cattle and trying to impose Islam on any Christians who refuse to leave.

Tensions between Muslims and Christians increased in 2011 when a government leader called for the implementation of Sharia (Islamic) law in the state’s predominantly Muslim areas. Militant Islamic Fulani have been targeting and killing Christians in the region since late 2016. In early 2017, government officials labelled the ongoing attacks the “Southern Kaduna Crisis.”

Five years later, the crisis continues. Just as the terrorist group Boko Haram targets Christians throughout north-eastern Nigeria, Fulani Islamic militants are working to eradicate Christians from the southern part of Kaduna State.

They have killed thousands of believers, raped hundreds of women, abducted countless others and burned many homes and churches.

Fear and Grief

Justina’s fear of further attacks on her village continues to be mixed with grief. She struggles daily with the pain of her loss, often breaking down in tears when she talks about Nehemiah. “Losing my husband was the hardest thing,” she said, “but God has given me the strength to bear the loss and to keep moving.”

Despite losing her husband, who was killed because of his faithful obedience to Christ, Justina said she could never think of leaving Jesus. “He has done everything for me,” she said.

“When I am sick, he heals me. When I pray, he answers. I see the evidence of all he does in my life. That is why I will not leave him.”

“When I serve God with all my heart, it makes him happy.” – Justina

Unable to read, Justina enjoys hearing God’s word read aloud at church. She also continues to worship God as part of her church choir. “I will not stop singing,” she said. “When I serve God with all my heart, it makes him happy.”

Justina asks that people pray not only for her and her son but for every Christian in southern Kaduna State. “I want them to pray about the constant attacks,” Justina said. “I want them to pray the attacks will stop.”

Our front-line workers gave Justina an audio Bible so she can listen to God’s word while at home and continue to grow in faith.

Rebecca’s Story

Like Justina, Rebecca’s husband was killed by Islamic militants in Nigeria. She and her daughter were out in the fields near her village one day when they saw smoke coming from their home. Rebecca watched helplessly as Boko Haram militants killed her husband and son and burned their home.

Rebecca’s story inspires us to pray for those who trust in God’s Word as they live faithfully for Christ on the world’s most difficult and dangerous mission fields. 

Pray with us

The first request of persecuted Christians is always, “Please pray for us!”

Please join us in prayer with Christians around the world on Sunday, 6 November for IDOP; the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church. This special day is set aside to come together in prayer on behalf of persecuted Christians who stand as bold witnesses for Christ on the world’s most dangerous mission frontiers.

Find out more about IDOP and downlaod free resources for this November.