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Nigeria: the story media outlets are not reporting

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Normally I send out my own prayer requests once a year (and some of them DO still need prayer) but this one is kind of urgent.

Most of you know I spent five months over three summers ministering in the Middle Belt of Nigeria. For years, Christians have been periodically slaughtered there in planned terrorist attacks; I have talked with survivors.

If you saw in international media that Christians attacked Muslims in a “Muslim town” called Yelwa a month or so ago, you should know the context of that so you can pray for our brothers and sisters there.

First of all, Yelwa was never a “Muslim town”—the media simply bought Muslim propaganda—an outright lie. I TAUGHT 60 PASTORS IN YELWA IN JUNE 2000, IN A DENOMINATIONAL HEADQUARTERS THERE; there were thousands of Christians in that area. If it is a “Muslim town” now, it is because militant Muslims systematically killed and drove off Christians and burned their churches; thousands of people lost their homes and centuries–old farmlands and became refugees.

Militant Muslim immigrants burned churches and declared it a Muslim town. (In one recent incident, Christians meeting for early morning prayer were surrounded and burned alive.) When some Christians retaliated (most are simply peaceful refugees), suddenly Muslims garnered international media attention.

In response to the media attention, the governor of a predominantly Muslim, “sharia” state in northern Nigeria invited Muslim youth to “defend their faith”; they rioted and over the next few days all the morgues, refrigeration units, etc., were filled. When Muslims seized a baby and hurled it into flames, the mother began screaming—so they told her that since she liked the child so much, she could join it—and killed her. Local Christians claim as many as 3000 died; a mission compound there had over 1000 refugees.

Meanwhile, the media reported that 40–50 people (not specifying Christians) died in a riot; I think even most of the people in the rest of Nigeria don’t know what’s going on unless they have contacts there.

(Several years ago I witnessed violence that was also suppressed in the Nigerian media. There are moderates on both sides but blood could drown out their voices…)

I love my brothers and sisters there, and as a believer would have wanted to die in their place.

Please pray for the gentle and loving Christians of northern Nigeria.

They are our brothers and sisters, and when they die part of our heart dies with them.

Your brother, Craig

Upheaval in Nigeria (April 20, 2006)

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Category: Living the Faith

About the Author: Craig S. Keener, Ph.D. (Duke University), is F. M. and Ada Thompson Professor of Biblical Studies at Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Kentucky. He is author of many books, including Miracles: The Credibility of the New Testament Accounts (Baker Academic, 2011), the bestselling IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament, The Historical Jesus of the Gospels, Gift and Giver: The Holy Spirit for Today, and commentaries on Acts, Matthew, John, Romans, 1-2 Corinthians, and Revelation. In addition to having written more than seventy academic articles, several booklets and more than 150 popular-level articles, Craig is is the New Testament editor (and author of most New Testament notes) for the The NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible. He is married to Dr. Médine Moussounga Keener, who is from the Republic of Congo, and together they have worked for ethnic reconciliation in North America and Africa. Craig and Médine wrote Impossible Love: The True Story of an African Civil War, Miracles and Hope against All Odds (Chosen, 2016) to share their story. Twitter: @keener_craig

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