“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.