DISCLAIMER: The opinions expressed in this article are of the writer and do not totally express the views of Yada Magazine.
Growing up as a Christian in Northern Nigeria, I am definitely no stranger to persecution, whether the overt ones like riots where churches are destroyed and Christians killed, or the more subtle ones like discrimination in school admissions, employment and the approval of land allocations for building churches. I have become so used to these scenarios that they rarely have become news to me. In fact, I fear that many Christians like me have come to accept this as part of living in the North as a Christian.
Am I entirely surprised by these events? Not at all. Anybody with knowledge of the Bible will remember the words of our Lord Jesus Christ to His disciples in John 16:2:
“For you will be expelled from your synagogues, and the time is coming when those who kill you will think they are doing a holy service to God” (NLT).
This is crystal-clear and self-explanatory, as those who attack Christians in Northern Nigeria do this with the belief that they will gain direct entry into heaven on account of killing infidels. As the word of God is always right, there is no way as this verse was not going to be fulfilled, as even Jesus Christ was killed by those who thought they were doing God a service.
But does that mean we should sit down and be docile while we are slaughtered? This is the part where I have my biggest grouse with, and with fellow brethren. I am not by any means saying that we should organise ourselves into militia and attack non-Christians. This is very far from the truth. After all, we have the assurance of the Bible in Romans 12:19, which says,
“Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the scriptures say, ‘I will take revenge. I will pay them back, says the Lord.”(NLT)
But then, we must distinguish between taking revenge and defending ourselves. Even though we believe in the mighty power of God to take revenge for His children in manners that are beyond our feeble human imaginations, there is nothing absolutely wrong with organising ourselves to resist attacks. There is no wrong, no sin in the young people of a church forming themselves into a brigade in order to stand sentry at their church premises to ward off rioters and extremists. There is nothing wrong with going physical in order to defend oneself and loved ones. Note that I keep emphasizing the word ‘defend’. It does not include you leading the attack charge, but only reacting when attacked and at the time when you were attacked, not days or weeks after. And it definitely does not include pre-emptive actions, because ‘if you did not do so, they would have attacked.’ I apologize if I sound so violent, but I am not. I am a very peace-loving Christian. I cannot even stand the sight of blood. But I am sick and tired of seeing my brethren being killed for their beliefs, and even worse, sitting like lame ducks and doing nothing about it.
Even beyond physical actions, Nigerian Christians, especially those in the North have to get themselves more involved in the activities and politics of their environments. We should do away with the archaic thinking that because we are in this world, but not of it, hence politics is not for us to engage in. It is very disheartening that even in areas with a clear Christian majority, we are severely under-represented in politics and decision-making. In the end, decisions are made which are designed to suppress the Christian faith and we just groan and complain about it and move on.
For example, Christian Religious Studies is not taught in any public primary school in Borno State, even in local governments with majority Christian population. All these are happening because we have become nonchalant about the happenings of the society. It is about time for a paradigm shift in our thinking. If we truly believe that we are light of the world because The Light lives in us, is it not just common sense that we should desire to be in every place possible, so our light can overshadow the darkness?
Brothers and Sisters, let us reason and take action on the things that affect us in our society. It is time we say that this enough is enough and stand up and work for a change.
Pray as though everything depends on God
Work as though everything depends on you
Image from digitalhen.co.uk