Lutheran Martyrs in Nigeria

“There is a bloodbath in Nigeria,” says Lela Gilbert, senior fellow for International Religious Freedom at Family Research Council. “Those of us who track religious freedom violations and Christian persecution agree with those who increasingly speak of another genocide.”

Over the last decade, radical Muslims have killed some 52,000 Christians. And many of them have been Lutherans.

With 206 million people, Nigeria has the largest population in Africa. The southern part of the country is mostly Christian. The northern part is mostly Muslim. But there are many Christian enclaves in the northern part of the country. These have become a target of two jihadist terrorist groups — Boko Haram and Fulani raiders— which seek to eliminate the Christians so that the region will be completely Muslim.

Gilbert describes what happens: “The story is also nearly always the same: heavily armed jihadis suddenly appear in the dead of night. They attack house after house, breaking down doors, shouting Allahu akbar. They shoot the elderly and able-bodied men. They rape, mutilate, and murder women. They kidnap young boys and girls. They torch houses, schools, and churches.”

There are 2.3 million Lutherans in Nigeria. The Lutheran Church of Nigeria, which is in fellowship with the LCMS, is located in the Christian-friendly south. But most Lutherans belong to the Lutheran Church of Christ in Nigeria (LCCN), which has 2.2 million members, most of whom live in the Muslim-dominated north.

Thus, according to the Lutheran World Federation, the “LCCN is among the churches most affected by the conflict.”

Exactly how many of the 52,000 Christian martyrs were Lutherans is unknown. Anglicans, Catholics, evangelicals, Pentecostals and other Christians are also dying for their faith. In January, a Lutheran pastor, the Rev. Dennis Bagauri, was murdered. Lutheran churches are being burned down. Thousands of Lutherans have been driven out of their communities, lost their homes and all of their belongings, and must live in refugee camps.

Pray for the Lutherans and all Christians in Nigeria! Thank God for the testimony of the martyrs.

There are about as many Missouri Synod Lutherans in the United States as there are Lutherans in jeopardy in Nigeria. Would we be willing to endure the same persecution, the same martyrdom?

Note: This article was edited on 23 July 2020 to reflect the fact not all who belong to the Fulani tribe engage in terrorist activities.

2 thoughts on “Lutheran Martyrs in Nigeria”

  1. Additional information about the slaughter of Christians in the Nigerian jihad can be found in these two recent publications:
    UK All-Party Parliamentary Group, headed by Baroness Caroline Cox, released a report (June 2020). Here is a link to the .pdf:

    Family Research Council released a report in early July. This link is to the press release, which provides a link to the .pdf:

  2. Kevin williams

    Letter to the editor

    Here I Am. 1882. Have you ever looked into the past and seen the present? What kind of issues were happening in the world then? They were dealing with the same issues we have today. People were in constant conflict. Constant pressure to change theology, practices, politics to change to new thoughts of thinking within communities across the nation. Here we are today dealing with constant questions of should we change our approach due to the many pressures in our communities and states. Prosperity theology plays to our natural nature and is everywhere. You can’t turn on the TV and not see shows that push the normalcy of just about every sin that exists in our world. The list is long. So what do we do today? What was done in 1882? What will we do in 2082? As Lutherans our solid rock is and always will be Scripture Alone, Faith Alone, and Grace Alone. Know the world is inherently full of sin around every corner. Put your faith in Jesus Christ alone and sleep well knowing that his grace is enough. Let the good news of the gospels and scripture soften our hearts in trying times and give our souls peace in all things that come our way as we live the life that our Lord has planned for us in this world until he comes again.

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