Christians under attack by a terrorist group in Nigeria are fleeing the area after promises of continued violence. President Goodluck Jonathan has asked the Christian community to pray for peace.
Boko Haram, a radical Islamic terror sect, killed hundreds of people this weekend in an attack on the northeastern cities of Maiduguri and Damaturu.
Nearly all Christians in Damaturu have left the town since this weekend. Streets and homes are deserted – there are neither police nor soldiers.
Jonathan asked Christian pilgrims en route to Israel to pray for peace in the embattled region.
“Your prayers can transform the attitudes of those who do not believe in the progress and peace of our country, so pray that God will touch them so they can change for the better; this should be your preoccupation in the holy land,” Jonathan told the pilgrims.
Jonathan added that only prayers could sustain a nation like Nigeria.
Boko Haram is responsible for killing hundreds of people over the last two years. The sect targets any group of people who disagree with their fundamentalist Islamic ideology.
Boko Haram translates to “Western education is sacrilege.”
In Nigeria, where Christians and Muslims nearly split the population, Boko Haram has targeted churches and rural communities in the northeast. Muslims predominantly occupy the north, while Christians occupy the south.
The remoteness of Boko Haram’s headquarters provides a strategic advantage for the terrorists. They can recruit in the economically depressed region, while strongly enforcing an undefined border.
Indeed the nature of the border is much like that of the group. Boko Haram represents an amorphous terror sect, uniform in only the shared goal of practicing radical Islam, and doing so in a violent manner.
Jonathan, who is Christian, commended the National Christian Pilgrimage Commission for their organization and execution of the inaugural trip from Nigeria to Israel. Jonathan said it was a Christian’s duty to go to Israel if it could be afforded, and to pray for the country.
Earlier today, Jonathan made a surprise visit to Kaduna State where attacks this weekend killed two Christians and resulted in the destruction of several churches. He commissioned a Bible Institute, saying that the Church will have a major role in the reconstruction of Nigeria.
The Nigerian government has invested millions in commissioning the pilgrimage program.
Boko Haram killed over 100 Christians earlier this year. They also bombed a U.N. building in the capitol city of Abuja. On Monday, they brushed off warnings from the U.S. Embassy that luxury hotels in the capitol were now at risk for terrorist attacks.