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Nigeria: Attack Sparks Revival

Increasing violence in Nigeria has only strengthened local Christians’ faith, even sparking a revival at the Deeper Life Bible Church in Gombe, where nine Christians were martyred in a Jan. 5 attack on the church. During a funeral service on Jan. 19 for those killed, many believers rededicated their lives to Christ, and others came to faith in Christ for the first time, according to a VOM worker.

Weeping and singing on their knees, a choir led about 500 attendees and 50 pastors in worship. The martyrs’ relatives and other dignitaries — including the deputy governor speaking on behalf of the state’s governor — spoke about each murdered Christian. The four-hour service then moved on to intercessory prayer for the church in Nigeria, the nation at large, Muslims in Nigeria and the Muslim extremist group Boko Haram.

“The leader of the prayers based most of the prayers from the book of Isaiah 61:1–4, among other scriptures, which strengthen and encourage the Church. He encouraged the Church to be more prayerful than complaining,” said the VOM worker. “He said the Lord knows how to fight his own battle in his own way, and we should not revenge whatsoever.”

On Jan. 5, Godwin Odoh, a 36-year-old teacher, was leading prayers at a weekly meeting called “The Hour of Revival.” When the church came under attack, Godwin was shot in the head, chest and legs and died instantly. Eight other attendees were also killed, including children as young as 10 years old and a pastor’s wife.

Ten days later, 72-year-old Yahaya Wuro Buntu, a pastor at Deeper Life Bible Church, was brutally murdered by a group of men who came to his house asking about the Christian faith. Yahaya was often sought out by Muslims to discuss Christianity, so he welcomed the men into his home. The men subdued him, took him to an uncompleted building near his house and killed him, according to a VOM worker. His life was celebrated during the Jan. 19 memorial service for the nine Christians killed during the church attack.

Ever since Boko Haram published an ultimatum on Jan. 3, 2012, threatening violence if Christians did not leave northern Nigeria, the extremist group has claimed responsibility for the murders of at least 44 Christians. On Jan. 22, Muslim extremists and members of Boko Haram attacked a church in Bauchi state, killing at least seven more Christians.

Ayo Oritsejafor, head of the Christian Association of Nigeria, told Compass Direct News that Christian leaders have decided to find a way to defend themselves against the senseless killings. “We have the legitimate right to defend ourselves,” Oritsejafor said. “We will do whatever it takes.”

Sources: VOM contacts, Compass Direct News

Posted: January 30, 2012

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