Nigeria (MNN) — As Christians around the world prepared to celebrate Christmas, the day turned into a nightmare for over 32 Christian villages in central Nigeria.
On Christmas Eve, Muslim extremists went on a killing spree that lasted into the following Christmas Day — largely targeting believers, pastors, and their families.
At least 160 people were killed; mostly women, children, and elderly. Greg Kelley, CEO of Unknown Nations (formerly World Mission), says the death toll could be closer to 300.
However, from both the Nigerian government and the international community, there has been very little outcry.
Kelley says in Nigeria, “There’s been one administration elected after another who these atrocities are falling on deaf ears, and the frustration that is mounting within the Christian community is almost indescribable because these terrorists are attacking ruthlessly these communities.
“I mean, they’re not just killing people. They’re torturing people. They’re taking children from their parents. They’re killing the elderly. They’re taking people’s homes and possessions and just occupying them. It is living hell for these people.”
In 2021, the Biden Administration in the United States removed Nigeria as a Country of Particular Concern, despite the strong recommendation by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) and ongoing bipartisan appeals.
The Biden Administration’s failure to reconsider Nigeria as a CPC means less international pressure on these human rights violations and attacks on Nigerian Christians.
“One of the ways you can put pressure is you put them on these terrorist lists and call it out,” says Kelley. “That affects foreign funding, that affects aid that’s coming in, that affects these meetings that Secretary of State levels are having. In the absence of that, it allows the perpetrators to run scot-free.”
Unknown Nations works with over 150 local missionaries in this area of Nigeria. Kelley says, “We’re constantly having to relocate them when the attacks happen. They’re running for their lives as well along with all the other civilians. So we’re constantly having to move missionaries from place to place.
The astounding thing is, “They’re trying to save their lives and that of their families, but they are as bold and courageous as anyone we’ve ever met. So they will go back in there and they’re happy to share the Gospel in these areas, but it’s the constant disruption. It makes it very difficult for Gospel activity.”
Unknown Nations is currently in touch with Nigerian Christians affected by the Christmas massacre, and offering tangible biblical support.
“There is a ton of trauma that we are dealing with right now for the missionaries and the survivors. So we are really mobilizing into having trauma healing training for those survivors to help them navigate this and to go through a journey in a biblical way.”
Pray for justice, comfort, and deep healing from the trauma. Pray also for the attackers to have profound encounters with Jesus Christ, that they would know God’s forgiveness and grace, and take the Gospel to their own communities.
Pray for the Church and the world to wake up to what is happening to our Nigerian Christian brothers and sisters.
Header photo courtesy of Tope A Asokere/Unsplash.