By John Pontifex, ACN United Kingdom
Adapted by ACN Canada
“In north-east Nigeria, they can attack our homes but they cannot destroy our spirit. We have suffered persecution, discrimination and harassment, but they can never take away our faith and our hope in the risen Lord.”
Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama of Jos,
President of the Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria
As the crisis deepens in northern Nigeria, people in the worst-hit area of Maiduguri do not know what tomorrow will bring, let alone what future they will leave their children.
Travelling just as the government declared a state of emergency, Aid to the Church in Need staff carried out a fact-finding and project assessment trip to a region said to be one of the most lethal places for Christians.
What we found was that, despite their suffering, the people were full of faith and hope.One young Catholic, John Abba, described the horror of living through an attack during Mass at his church a few months ago.
John, whose story is told inside, said: “They thought I was dead, but I survived. They thought I would never see again but here am I looking at you. They thought that they could do away with us, but we are still standing, giving thanks to God.”
People from all sections of society have suffered. Christians, however, have been hit especially hard, with reports of nearly 100 attacks on churches since 2007.
Building on your generous support so far, so much more needs to be done to help the faithful carry the cross of persecution.
Urgent ACN projects include rebuilding churches, offering pastoral help for victims of atrocities, developing inter-faith cooperation, teaching catechists, providing Child’s Bibles, training seminarians and helping oppressed priests with Mass offerings.
Surviving persecution is not easy – but it can be done with your help.
As one Sister put it, in a reference to Psalm 147: “Please help bind up our wounds and heal our broken hearts.”
Over the next three days, we will be offering you a series of 6 articles entitled CARRYING THE CROSS OF PERSECUTION. These articles were written by John Pontifex, a journalist at the national office in United Kingdom for Aid to the Church in Need, who was reporting from Nigeria.
Excerpt : “For two months and 10 days, I was blind and then – after many operations – my sight began to return in one eye.”
Excerpt : “We met Esther in the bombed-out remains of her church, St Stephen’s, where her father, Ibrahim, was reading her the Child’s Bible.”
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(514) 932-0552 or 1 (800) 585 6333