Nigeria is number 10 on the 2015 Open Doors World Watch List, a list ranking the top 50 countries where Christians are persecuted for their faith.
“We are in deep pain over the incessant loss of life. Every day Christian villages are attacked, people are killed and houses belonging to Christians are destroyed. Almost all the Christian villages around Madagali have been deserted. The houses and churches in those villages have all been destroyed,” explains Pastor Peter*, from Gulak in Adamawa State, north eastern Nigeria, where the government has been battling Boko Haram insurgents under a state of emergency since May 2013.
“Hunger among the believers in Gulak is becoming worse by the day,” continues Isaac*, an Open Doors worker in Nigeria. “The town is teeming with refugees from the deserted villages around Madagali. Life has been interrupted. People are afraid to go out to work on their farms; the courageous ones who tried have been attacked or killed in the bush
Around 300 children between the ages of two and 12 have ended up in Gulak, and are now under the care of the Christians there. They were either orphaned when their parents were killed or abducted, or were separated from their parents in the flight from the insurgents. Some made it there by themselves. Others were found wandering the forest – lost, exhausted and crying for help. Many had run until they became too tired to continue… For two of them the ordeal was simply too much – their lifeless bodies were discovered in the forest.
Under these very heartbreaking circumstances and in the absence of any assistance from the state government, the Church in Gulak has risen to the occasion. In amazing generosity 14 families – who are already struggling to make ends meet – agreed to divide the 300 children among them. Some offered to foster four children. Others, like Jibrill, took in many more.
“I have 45 children in my house. I have exhausted all I have… These are children of Christian brothers and sisters. Even though we are in difficult situation, we have to support them. We have to trust God for their upkeep.”
Open Doors responded immediately to the crisis in Gulak by delivering emergency supplies for the care of the children, taking in rice, corn, beans, palm oil and other condiments.
In partnership with the Church, Open Doors is looking at ways to support these children in the longer term, to help them deal with their trauma and help them grow in Christ. We are also engaged in an extensive program to equip Christians for trauma ministry to help other believers deal with violence directed at them across northern Nigeria.
“I am so glad for this help,” says Sunday, another Christian caring for the children. “For you to come to our area at this time of uncertainty is wonderful. The love of God is great.”
*Names changed for security purposes