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Banditry and its devastating effect on missionary work in Nigeria

Oscar Amaechina
Courtesy of Oscar Amaechina

It is no gain saying that Christianity is under siege in Nigeria and that Nigeria is one of the worst countries for Christians to live in. The sector that is hardest hit by insurgency, terrorism, and banditry is missionary work. Many missionaries have been killed along with their followers and many mission agencies and churches are vacating northern Nigeria because of attacks. Afri-mission and Evangelism Network has gotten a share of the pains and frustrations.

On May 25, I received a call from one of our missionaries, informing me that bandits have invaded our mission fields among the Kambari and Dukawa ethnic groups in Niger and Kebbi states. According to the missionary, cows, camels, goats and domestic fowls were rustled by bandits and all the communities within the vicinity were ransacked, and the occupants were chased into bushes. She reports: "as I am talking to you now, we are all hiding in mountain caves because bandits have taken over our communities". She told me that some missionaries have been killed and some wounded and need urgent medical help.

Many of the people whom we have labored to bring to the saving knowledge of Christ for the past 14 years are now refugees. As of last week, we counted about 600 of our converts who are displaced and need urgent humanitarian aids. We are at present trusting God for provisions and relief packages. We planned to visit them on Sunday, June 13, but they got in touch with us informing us that bandits have already taken over the roads in the area.

It is heartbreaking to watch our labor of love and vision destroyed by the enemies of the Gospel. In the 14 communities where we are pioneering the Gospel, not a single person has gone to school. The children roam the villages and bushes like wild animals. We vowed to rehabilitate these children and put them in schools. While we were able to furnish and equip the classrooms through the helping hands of World Outreach Ministries International and Ignited Church life, bandits have already chased them and their parents out of their communities in the month of May.

We cannot deny the fact that the activities of these bandits have created fears in our hearts. Some of our best missionaries are quitting in droves, and those of us who are still standing are reluctant to embark on missionary journeys even after signing our death warrants for the sake of the Gospel. We have realized that martyrdom is a necessity if the unreached must be reached. The enemies of the Gospel have succeeded in tormenting many missionaries in Nigeria with fear. We desperately need prayers. Instead of praying for our safety, American Christians should pray that we have the boldness to preach Christ amid the risk and persecution.

God has given us a “plan B.” We are presently raising willing Christians who will continue to reach the unreached in the diaspora through the support from Kingdom Missions Fund (KMF)—an American Christian organization based in Little Rock, Arkansas, with the mandate to support innovative mission projects worldwide. We have developed a strategy: "Operation evangelize your killers before they kill you,” to mobilize Christians in Nigeria and sensitize them to the dangers of leaving the unreached and un-evangelized. If conventional mission has been frustrated by terrorists and bandit attacks in northern Nigeria, Christians can still reach the unreached that are migrating to the southern part of Nigeria daily. We stand the chance of becoming the last generation of Christians in Nigeria if we do nothing to stop this genocide. We must reach the unreached with the Gospel and love of Christ.

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Oscar Amaechina is the president of Afri-Mission and Evangelism Network, Abuja, Nigeria. His calling is to take the gospel to where no one has neither preached nor heard about Jesus. He is the author of the book Mystery Of The Cross Revealed.  

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