By BosNewsLife Africa Service with reporting by BosNewsLife’s Chief International Correspondent Stefan J. Bos
ABUJA, NIGERIA (BosNewsLife)– A group of Nigerian missionaries and Christian converts have managed to escape a battle field in northern Nigeria where some militants embraced Christianity, but elsewhere Christians faced Islamic attacks Tuesday, June 26, a key mission leader told BosNewsLife.
Rae Burnett, Africa director for the Christian Aid Mission group, said as “word came that native missionaries under siege last week had escaped from Muslim terrorist murderers, Gospel workers from another mission field called in to report that they are now under attack.”
In a letter, shared by CAM with BosNewsLife, an unidentified Nigerian mission leader says that “a whole village in southern Kaduna is fighting” and that “five missionaries” are “there now whose work among local unreached Muslim tribes has been very successful.”
The missionaries arrived there to “comfort and shelter unprepared villagers who fled in terror as heavily armed Muslim militants invaded without warning. No police or soldiers have come, and it is doubtful they will.”
The mission leader, whose name was not released amid security concerns, hopes Christians will “pray that our base there is not destroyed tonight. Pray that our missionaries will be safe,” as the group has “no money to temporally move staff.”
Missionaries said as many as 400 people have died since Islamic group Boko Haram, or ‘Western Education is a Sin’, bombed three churches in cities Kaduna and Zaria, as well last week.
However, “There is still much good news” as elsewhere “all our Muslim converts” trapped since last week “are secure and protected now in our discipleship center,” the mission leader said. “The [village] chief wants us back when he knows it is safe.”
And in a major turnaround, the missionary suggested that some members of Boko Haram have turned to Christianity. The missionary said the mission group is “committed to reaching the militants, and some few have left and joined us.”
“We are discipling and protecting them in secret.”
Though the work has been “so successful beyond what we could ever have imagined” challenges remain, the missionary acknowledged.
“The discipleship center for Muslim converts [to Christianity] needs mosquito nets, school supplies for the children, and medical supplies. We are caring for many wounded in this war,” the missionary added.
It wasn’t easy to get them out of the battle zone. “When the killing began in the main city, Muslims in the small town started intimidating our people. They told them to leave or be blamed for the killing because we are making their people Christians,” the mission leader recalled.
“The village chief has welcomed and accepted our people, but he was afraid of the militants, so we temporarily retreated the missionaries. Many people died near them, and they admit that they were afraid.”
Despite these dangers, “They are planning to return soon when things are calmer,” the missionary said.
“To me they are now like refugees in our own hands” adding that especially “prayers” are needed “for eight households, most of whom have children, their converts,
and for our Nigeria. It was not easy financially to bring these ones out, mow we need places to house and feed them.”
Boko Haram has made clear it wants Christians to leave northern Nigeria as it aims to establish a state based on Shariah, or Islamic, law.