PLATEAU, Nigeria -- According to the mission group Open Doors with Brother Andrew, some 1,500 Christians were slain within the last few weeks in the Nigerian state of Plateau in a slew of religious violence that destroyed 173 churches and displaced 25,000 people.
Eight pastors were also killed in the attacks; the Christian Association of Nigeria released the names of these martyred pastors who served Baptist, Anglican, Roman Catholic, Assemblies of God and the Evangelical Reformed congregations, as well as the Church of Christ in Nigeria and the Evangelical Church of West Africa.
Much of the killings occurred in the church while the parishioners were worshiping.
"How can anyone explain the reason for invading a church where women, children and men were worshipping, asking them to surrender and lie face down and then proceed to machete and axe them to death in their house of worship? asked the Christian Association of Nigerian in a prepared statement.
According to CAN, Muslim fundamentalists were the ones heavily targeting the Christians. Christians, however, have never initiated violence against Muslims.
"We need to keep Nigeria in our prayers - hostility to Christianity is on the increase as the conflict between the Muslim north and the Christian south continues," says Open Doors USA President Dr. Carl Moeller. "Sharia law has now been implemented in a dozen states. Please pray with me for the families of those who have been martyred for their belief in Jesus Christ our Risen Lord."
Open doors gave four prayer points for Christians to consider: Pray that Christians will find strength to endure persecution and become stronger Christians in the process; Pray that the government will make the correct decisions in handling religious tensions and Sharia law in Nigeria - and especially for President Olusegun Obasanjo, who is a Christian; Christian workers in northern Nigeria suffer constant harassment. It is extremely dangerous to evangelize in the northern Muslim-dominated areas. Pray for the boldness and courage of evangelists to work in the north. Pray that Nigerian churches will continue to send missionaries across the entire continent of Africa.