Living in an area now dangerous to be a Christian, a persecuted family describes their harrowing journey to escape one of the most violent terror groups in the world. With no time to gather any belongings, they could bring only one thing, their FAITH.
(Voice of the Persecuted) Northern Nigeria is an area where we’ve been called and blessed to serve persecuted Christians. The Islamic group, Boko Haram has committed brutal atrocities against the Christians living in the north. Many church leaders believe they are attempting to eradicate Christianity from the region. Based on the Boko Haram’s murderous campaign for the past 6 years, it’s hard to disagree with them. The Christians have begged for help, but there is much silence and a lack of interest from the international community to alleviate their suffering. Due to the severity of the crisis, we could not desert them. In prayer, we would intercede of their behalf and be their VOICE.
Through intercession, we heard the cries of one brought low. One who had turned to God and cried out for a miracle. Then we heard the call from God, “MOVE!” To be the hands and feet of Christ and care for the His saints in Nigeria. With much prayer and discussion, VOP voted to begin the mission Project 13:3 Nigeria to address the issue by supplying aid and hope to Christians passed over and falling through the cracks, in particular widows and orphans. And to assist them to the point where they are safe and able to sustain themselves. ‘Making a difference, one family at a time.’ Operating in the Spirit, individually and together, we trusted God and prayed daily for Him to reveal the family to us. In less than a week, those prayers were answered.
Unaware of the project, one of our contacts, a Nigerian pastor asked us to share in joy and thanksgiving for the gift of new life. A woman had given birth in a camp for the internally displaced (IDP’s). She had come from a community that had been under the threat of Boko Haram since 2009. But when the terrorists’ activities intensified, they sacked the whole community forcing all the residents to flee to the hills, caves and other places for safety.
Separated from her husband when he was taken by the militants during an earlier attack on their village, the pregnant woman with 6 children experienced extreme trials. It’s a miracle that they survived. For many months, she received no communication or word of her husband’s condition. Our contact said it was heartbreaking that no one knew his location, or whether he was alive or dead. They prayed continuously for the family to be reunited. Immediately, the VOP team knew this was the family that God was sending to us and He would answer their cries!
A Mother’s Nightmare
As their village came under attack, this pregnant mother with her six children fled to the mountains and stayed in a cave for some months. They drank rain and stagnant waters. “We ate with much difficulty.” Having a measure of flour, they baked with some edible grasses to sustain themselves. They left the cave and found their way to a community where soldiers were present. But Boko Haram members started threatening the community, so she fled with her children on a two day journey to find safety in Cameroon. She tells us, “It was indeed a true test of my faith, because many people were staying back and embraced Islam.”
They ended up in a UN refugee camp and stayed for two months. Choosing to leave the hard conditions of this camp, they headed back to Nigeria and trekked for almost a week on mountainous roads. She described how their feet were swollen and “the children were at the point of death.” And if not for God’s protection, they wouldn’t have survived. The family arrived and stayed at another camp, but soon realized they were the only Christians. Uncomfortable with the threat of conversion, she moved the children from place to place until they found safety in the camp they’re currently at. She tells us they were welcomed by the church leaders who treat them as their own children.
Soon she would give birth to her seventh child. Can you place yourself in her position and imagine the stress, or the thoughts that ran through her mind? Would the father ever see his new baby? Would she ever see her husband again? How will she take care of her family in his absence? When will the violent persecution stop? And would they ever be safe again? She prayed to the One she knew was listening. And He would answer her prayers.
Her child was born in the primitive camp with the love of Christians around them. And they rejoiced and gave thanks to God!
Days before the family was to receive the aid relief from Voice of the Persecuted, we were notified that a connection had been made with her husband. The father of the seven children had survived! And arrangements were made to reunite the family at the camp. Many prayers were answered! We rejoiced and glorified God with this family and our Nigerian brethren.
Husband witnesses months of complete and unabashed evil
Her husband, along with others had been abducted by Boko Haram militants. “They tied our hands and asked me if I was a Muslim.” He was brutally beaten as they called him an unbeliever. He witnessed them slaughter one of the men, as they shouted “Allau akbar’—meaning god is great. He described that many were killed in their presence and believed the militants intended to slaughter them all. But soldiers arrived to engage the terrorists in a renewed offensive. The militants ran off and the Christians made their escape into the hills. He relayed how they ran from one point to another, as the Boko Haram terrorists closed in on them. He lamented, “Before my very eyes, people were killed, churches were burnt and houses destroyed.”
Proof the hand of God is on them
“I was trapped for nearly six months on the hills. I fled and hid from the terrorists as God protected and guided me.” The scene was gory and my faith was shattered. But God helped me through it all to find my way into Cameroon in search of my wife and children.” He went from camp to camp, but was finally told they had left. He eventually made his way back to Nigeria and was finally given the location of his wife and children.
“The journey was terrible; I saw a lot of dead and wounded people on the way. Some people were killed by the terrorists and others due to exhaustion.”
After going through such extreme psychological and physical stress, this family suffers emotional distress. But with God’s love and compassion from the Body of Christ, we are sure they will overcome. So many of the persecuted lose their sense of dignity when stripped of all they have and forced to beg for simple basics. But these our our heroes, inspiring us with true faith. From the frontlines of the ‘battle’, they choose Christ and are given divine strength to fight the good fight against evil. We are blessed to share in their testimony and honored to serve them.
They are praising God for laying it on your hearts to support this mission providing the gifts that have comforted them. In the joyous moments of reuniting with his family, the aid relief was presented to them at the camp. Food, utensils, clothing, shoes, bedding, baby needs, travel cases, soaps and hygiene products. We have also supplied ongoing medical care for the mother and her new baby. It appears the infant has a umbilical hernia, which we will stay updated on. If necessary, we will cover the costs of any surgical procedure the child may need.
Her husband was greatly moved by the timing and generosity of your gifts. As precious seeds that have been sown for God’s Kingdom, they brought encouragement, renewed hope and faith to this suffering family. In his words,
“From nowhere and in our nothingness we have come to see the hand of God at work in our lives. We are gradually rebuilding our lives through the aid of our benefactors: Voice of the Persecuted. Thank you for putting smiles on our faces.”
They have been through so much and are still face many challenges. For now, it’s unsafe to go back to their community. And when the time comes that they are able to return, all must be rebuilt. The suffering caused by persecution lingers for quite some time. Also, they are vulnerable to becoming victims of abuse and must be protected during this time of rehabilitation. We have given them a foothold, but they still need our assistance to get back on their feet. As the Body of Christ, we can help them to heal by providing for their Spiritual, emotional and physical needs. In the same way the first century Christians cared for one another in love. And they desperately need our prayers.
So many tell us that they don’t know how to help when there is so much suffering. This family along with 18 other families, including those widowed by persecution reside in this camp. With a total of 58 children. Aid has been stretched so thin, many never see it. We are stepping up to help relieve the burden. Please partner with us to cover these families, they have all suffered immensely. Don’t be overwhelmed, it will crush any good that your heart intends to do! 19 families—WE CAN DO THIS, TOGETHER! Please share this story. Encourage others to join in praying for and aiding these persecuted brothers and sisters. We greatly appreciate and need your help and support.
Saturday, we will be sending an encouraging letter to our brothers and sisters in this camp. All those who have donated this month and those donating to the Nigerian Project by Saturday, your names will be added to that letter. When donating, you’re also welcome to add a message which we will include in the letter. They would love to hear from you!
Lois Kanalos, Founder and the VOP Team
Together with your generous support, we can reach the goal to alleviate horrific suffering. In darkness and desperation, let us serve in love, with open arms and giving hands to provide light and hope.
Everyday, we thank God that He is working through you to care for His children and further His Kingdom! As you greatly bless others, may God continue to bless you. Thank you so much for your support. We couldn’t do it without you!
You may also send your gift to:
Voice of the Persecuted
2740 Third St
P.O. Box 122
Trenton, MI. 48183
Names have been withheld for security purposes. Article may be reprinted and shared with credit to Voice of the Persecuted