Pastor killed, wife kidnapped by armed bandits in Nigeria

Rev. Joshua Amako Maraya of an ECWA church in Damakasuwa, Kaduna state, Nigeria, was killed on Nov. 17, 2023.
Rev. Joshua Amako Maraya of an ECWA church in Damakasuwa, Kaduna state, Nigeria, was killed on Nov. 17, 2023. | Facebook via Morning Star News

ABUJA, Nigeria — Armed assailants in Kaduna state, Nigeria, last Friday killed a pastor and kidnapped his wife, sources said.

The Rev. Joshua Amako Maraya of the Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA) in Damakasuwa town was killed at night by “bandits,” said the Rev. Romanus Ebenwokodi, spokesman for ECWA in Jos, Plateau, state.

“We solicit your prayers for the safe return of the wife and comfort to the family and ECWA, Damakasuwa District Church Council (DCC),” Pastor Ebenwokodi said in a press statement.

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The late pastor’s wife was reportedly released late on Sunday after a ransom was paid. 

A nephew of the late pastor, Geoffrey Ruga, said his uncle was “brutally killed in his house.”

A member of Pastor Maraya’s congregation, Wisdom Christopher, said he was killed by “terrorists who invaded his house.”

“We, the members of the church, are in deep pain over the killing of our dear father, uncle, brother and friend,” Christopher said in a text message to Morning Star News. “The Rev. Maraya always encouraged us to preach the gospel with courage and without reservation. He said, ‘The message of the gospel is for Jesus, so don’t fail to preach it because of fear. Preach it, whether they like it or not, just deliver it.’ He was a father, mentor and a friend to us."

Yohanna Gandu, a member of the Kauru Local Government Council, described Pastor Maraya as “a gallant soldier for Jesus Christ.”

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the church, and family in this time of sorrow,” Gandu said. “We pray that the Lord will uphold His church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against her.”

Nigeria led the world in Christians killed for their faith in 2022, with 5,014, according to Open Doors’ 2023 World Watch List (WWL) report. It also led the world in Christians abducted (4,726), sexually assaulted or harassed, forcibly married or physically or mentally abused, and it had the most homes and businesses attacked for faith-based reasons. As in the previous year, Nigeria had the second most church attacks and internally displaced people.

In the 2023 World Watch List of the countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian, Nigeria jumped to sixth place, its highest ranking ever, from No. 7 the previous year.

“Militants from the Fulani, Boko Haram, Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) and others conduct raids on Christian communities, killing, maiming, raping and kidnapping for ransom or sexual slavery,” the WWL report noted. “This year has also seen this violence spill over into the Christian-majority south of the nation. … Nigeria’s government continues to deny this is religious persecution, so violations of Christians’ rights are carried out with impunity.”

Morning Star News is the only independent news service focusing exclusively on the persecution of Christians. The nonprofit's mission is to provide complete, reliable, even-handed news in order to empower those in the free world to help persecuted Christians, and to encourage persecuted Christians by informing them that they are not alone in their suffering.

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