Crushed but not Defeated

Reverend Marcus Abana is a pastor in a city in Adamawa State of northern Nigeria. His community suffered devastating attacks by Boko Haram: churches were burned; villages ransacked; men and women murdered. Rev Marcus shares about the traumatic effects the attacks had on the Christian community at the time, and how believers rallied together and found renewed hope to rebuild. Today, we are helping Rev Marcus build a new church building for his growing congregation. We’re also supporting the Christian community through microloans, vocational training, and trauma counselling. The need to rebuild the church in these areas of Nigeria continues to be immense.

The rumors came true

Rev Marcus shared with us, “Before Boko Haram attacked us, we were living in peace with one another, in the church and the markets, even in school—our children were all living in peace and very happy.

“In 2014, we heard rumours of a possible attack by Boko Haram. The rumour soon turned to reality. Boko Haram ravaged our villages, our churches were burned down, homes ransacked and many men and women killed. Our people fled and deserted the villages and the church stopped meeting.  Boko Haram went ahead to burn down all the churches in the nearby town of Mubi as well.

“After several months, Boko Haram left our town and I returned. There were very few of us. Some came late at night and entered their homes.”

Blood on the church walls

The Boko Haram attack instilled deep fear in everyone’s heart. Rev Marcus shared, “When we came back, some of the churches had blood on the walls. Anyone who saw it or heard about it didn’t want to go to church anymore.

“I knew from experience that when you walk with the Lord, these things can happen to you.  There was a time of great disappointment, fear and, loss of trust and hope. Honestly, at that time, my spiritual life was shaken as well. I was so scared. Truly speaking, my faith was shaken.

“But still, the Word of God kept reminding me that anyone who puts their trust in God won’t be forsaken. At that time, I was pastoring at another town, quite far from here and I was transferred to the hottest zone —near Mubi where Boko Haram camped. I began to visit the church members in their homes, but, still, only four members agreed to come to church. And that was how we began to worship again—until the members finally came in a larger number.

Finding hope and encouragement

When people gradually started coming back to the church, Open Doors was able to host a seminar on trauma healing. Many pastors and members were encouraged to attend the teachings.

Open Doors also distributed food for many, because no one had food stored—not only food but also financial support. Rev Marcus is thankful, he says, “You kept encouraging and training us. Because of these teachings, a lot of people became encouraged and strengthened to stand strong and they returned to the church. We can’t quantify our gratitude, and only God can reward you. You have strengthened our hope in God. On behalf of my congregation, we are sending our appreciation to you.”

Today, the church is full, and the greatest source of our encouragement came from you—through your teachings, encouragement and the support you have given.

Rev Marcus has a message for Boko Haram

“If I were able to speak with a member of Boko Haram today, I would tell them we will not repay evil for evil. I would tell them what they are doing will not take them anywhere and they should repent, come and follow Jesus Christ. What you have done, we won’t pay you back, just turn back to Christ. All that you have done: you killed people, you looted people’s property; you destroyed houses and burned churches, but God is willing to forgive you all your sins, that is the good news I have for you today.”

A word to Christians around the world

“Something that I want believers all over the world to know, if any hardship like this ever comes your way, do not feel discouraged but count it pure joy. Persecution will keep coming. And remember, persecution did not just start with you, it has happened in the past and is still happening. And anywhere persecution arises, the gospel is being spread more and more.

“Before Boko Haram attacked, we were weak, but after this, we have become very strong in the faith. We do not pray that God will take away the hardship, but that God would give us the grace to be able to stand. The Bible tells us that whoever endures to the end will receive a crown of righteousness. This is the message I want to send to Christians around the world today.

“Before the attacks from Boko Haram, our Church had 200 members. Today, we have between 300 and 400 members. Some of the small churches in our region that could only hold 100 members have built bigger churches and hold 500 members.

“Since our Master Jesus went through this suffering, we also who have become His followers, will go through it, but in the end, we will be victorious.

A special prayer request for their village

We have some challenges we are facing in our community. Our young ladies who have lost hope, are being enticed by Muslims with material things. We have gone to court, and (to) the village head for cases of Islamization and the abduction of some of our girls. In most cases, Muslim young men give our young women clothes, food and plenty of money—and later force them to convert to Islam. Please pray for protection for our young women.

The Church in Nigeria needs urgent restoration and nurturing

Churches impacted by Boko Haram violence need urgent help to rise up strong and start functioning again. With your help we have started rebuilding broken churches, providing discipleship training and trauma counselling. Livelihood projects have been initiated for those who ave lost everything and have no income to start afresh. However, much more needs to be done, and this can only be accomplished with your ongoing support.