By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
TOKYO (Worthy News) - Christians who fled persecution at home have expressed concerns about their future in Japan as authorities threatened to deport a Nigerian Christian doctor who fled Islamist militants.
Dr. Gabriel Osaheni Aghedo, a long-time member of the St. Ignatius Church and its English choir in Tokyo, said he is facing a crisis after more than 30 years of living in Japan.
The financial support he received from Japan’s Refugee Assistance Headquarters (RHQ) was halted after he lost a case at the Tokyo Regional Court against his deportation order by immigration authorities.
The elderly Nigerian is now appealing the ruling amid fears Islamist terror group Boko Haram may kill Aghedo, a naturopathic doctor and author.
Aghedo, who provides free advice on holistic and naturopathic medicine, health, longevity, and productive longevity, angered the militants after authoring a book in Nigeria.
Boko Haram, which has threatened, kidnapped, and killed Christians, reportedly said that Aghedo’s book ‘Perpetually Healthy, Good-looking and Rich’ violated Islamic teachings.
“My sister and niece were also threatened by violence, and the family house was destroyed,” Aghedo said in comments to Worthy News. Even in recent years, his relatives “were threatened and afraid to return home,” he explained.
Individual Christians and activists said they launched a signature campaign on the website Change.org for his refugee case in Japan “so that he will be granted the right to work again.”
“Gabriel has already suffered greatly with repeated detentions in the immigration detention center. And by being denied the right to work while on provisional release,” said Thomas (Tom) Eskildsen, a Christian campaigner.
“Now that the aid from the RHQ has been stopped, his very survival is under threat. Gabriel is currently owing more than six months house rent and many other bills,” Eskildsen told Worthy News.
“We all know him as a dedicated prayer warrior …for the healing of the sick, relief for the suffering, and comfort for the lonely. We also know that he is a generous soul, always willing to reach out and help others in whatever way he can,” Eskildsen added.
The case has underscored broader concerns among persecuted Christians, including Mark Huda Junayed Fino, an evangelist who fled Bangladesh several years ago.
“The Okinawa Immigration Bureau in Japan decided to interview me for two days last year, but I still don’t have an answer,” he told Worthy News.
Fino, 29, confirmed in 2016 that he was threatened by the Islamic militant group Harkat-ul Jihad Islami with death if he remains a believer in Jesus Christ.
In the letter, seen by a Worthy News reporter, the group purportedly wrote: “You have become converted to Christianity by giving up the religion of Islam, which is a great crime according to Shariah [Muslim law] and an offense punishable by death.”
The commander, whose name was difficult to see, wrote that he and his militants receive “virtue” by “killing one who rejects Islam and a Jew.”
Fino said he also had to flee as he had been rejected by his Muslim father, who allegedly sent him text and photo messages. They include a picture of a topless woman on the Viber mobile phone service accompanied by harsh words about his late mother who committed suicide: “Your mother was such as this prostitute, so you are a bastard.”
He forgave him, saying he hopes his father will “one day become a believer in Jesus Christ.” The threats against the evangelist come amid international concerns about Islamic extremism in Bangladesh and other nations, with many Christian refugees ending up in Japan.
Yet, Japan is reluctant to accept them. And, Fino suggests, the possible deportation of the Nigerian doctor shows that more persecuted Christians could be sent home by Japan’s immigration authorities.