Christian Communities Disappearing in Northern Nigeria

Thursday, June 16, 2011

by Joseph DeCaro, Worthy News Correspondent

LAGOS, NIGERIA (Worthy News)-- The Christian farmers of Mdandi village in northern Nigeria were preparing for a new harvest when armed Islamists attacked their homes and drove them out.

"On their first attack, we fought back, defending ourselves and our families," said Luka Zafi, pastor of the Church of Christ in Nigeria. "And not being able to force us out, they retreated. We had thought that we would not be attacked again, but ... they left and returned the second time with more of them, and all armed with guns. We could not fight back since we do not have arms to fight them. We ran out of the village, and they destroyed our two church buildings and our houses."

Zafi's church had 50 members, but now Muslim Fulani nomads graze cattle on its grounds.

Zafi said the need for the Nigerian government to halt the attacks of Muslim militants was more important than restoring Christian property.

"Unless this is done, I am afraid Christians in this part of the country may be on their way to extinction," he said.

Christian Persecution in Nigeria Intensifies

Islamists also attacked the village of Gumel, destroying three church buildings and burning more than 50 houses.

"They overpowered us, so we had to flee with our wives and children," said Pastor Ishaya Magaji, 65, formerly of the Gumel COCIN church. "They burned our houses and destroyed our properties. We cannot return to the village -- not only because our houses have been destroyed, but because the Muslims have taken over the village and are using the place as a grazing field for the Fulani Muslims."

Islamists also destroyed a Roman Catholic parish and an Evangelical Church; most of the villagers are now refugees in other towns and villages in Tafawa Balewa, including Rafin Ganba, Bwar, Mantokshin and Nahuta.

Magaji said the attack on his village was part of a jihad waged against Christians in Bauchi state.

"We have lost all that we have and have nowhere to turn," he said. "The government should help us by rebuilding our churches and homes so that we can all return to the village."

Read more about Christian Persecution in Nigeria