George Bowers Sr.: Pray for persecuted Christians
Imagine dropping your daughter off to her middle school one Tuesday on your way to work as you normally do. While you’re busily involved in your morning routine and drinking your second cup of coffee, you get an emergency call from the police stating that your daughter has been kidnapped along with 270 others during a terrorist raid at her school. Some students were killed as were several faculty members. You have no idea if you will ever see your daughter again.
Imagine worshiping in church one Sunday morning when militant gunmen burst into the sanctuary and begin indiscriminately killing your Christian brothers and sisters. In the confusion, your right shoulder is ripped open by one of their bullets. Because you are close to an exit you’re able to escape into the nearby woods, but as you glance around, you see flames consume the building where you’ve worshiped since you were a baby.
Imagine having to rush home one day to hastily pack up whatever essential belongings you can carry with you before fleeing your home and property with all of your family that is left. You leave behind your furniture and your canned food, your extra clothing and your personal belongings, your photo albums and your memories. You have no idea where you will go nor how you will provide for yourself and your children, nor if you’ll ever return. You just know that if you stay behind, you will likely be raped and murdered in the next 24 hours.
Any one of these atrocities would be overwhelming to even consider, much less comprehend. And yet, many of our Christian brothers and sisters in Nigeria have not only had to imagine such nightmares, they’ve been living through all them simultaneously for the last six years. At the hands of the militant Islamic terrorists, Boko Haram, over 8,000 Nigerian Church of the Brethren members have been brutally murdered, 1,674 churches and worship centers have been destroyed, 273 of their daughters were kidnapped at Chibok, most of whom are still missing over a year later, and over 700,000 have become refugees.
While our entire nation rightfully mourns and grieves over the senseless killings of nine Christians who were ruthlessly slaughtered while attending a Bible Study in their South Carolina church, multiply this thousands of times over and we can begin to fathom the depths of grief, chaos, and loss the Nigerian Christians must continuously feel.
We may wonder how they cope with such persecution and anguish, but on Thursday, we can learn firsthand. Over 50 members of the Nigerian Church will be at Antioch Church of the Brethren to sing and share testimonies. This is a rare opportunity for us to hear their stories directly without interpretation or distortion by the media.
This event is open to the public and will begin at 7 p.m. No admission fee will be charged, but an offering will be taken to help toward the group’s expenses and the Nigerian Crisis Fund. If you can come and show support and solidarity for these Christian brothers and sisters, you are encouraged to do so, but if you have other obligations, please don’t forget to pray for these and all suffering Christians. A persecuted Christian anywhere affects Jesus’ church everywhere. Let’s stand with them and with our brothers and sisters in Charleston as well.
George Bowers Sr. is the pastor of Antioch Church of the Brethren in Woodstock and the author of four books, including his latest book of poetry, “Wit and Wisdom of the Woods.” He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.