How one Nigerian Christian came to terms with the horrific persecution taking place in that country

Ikeja, Nigeria Credit: Godwin Olatunde,

There is a horrific persecution of Christians taking place in Nigeria by Islamic extremists. According to a report published by the International Society for Civil Liberties and Rule of Law, an estimated 8,000 Christians were killed in that country last year because of their faith, some in horrific ways.

The non-governmental agency added that 50,000 Christians have been killed in that country by Muslim extremists since 2009. Along with this, over 18,000 churches and 2,200 Christian schools were set on fire.

In a recent op-ed for the Christian Post, Oscar Amaechina, who serves as the president of Afri-Mission and Evangelism Network, Abuja, Nigeria, wrote about his personal struggles dealing with this horrific persecution of believers.

I have persistently asked God in the past why He would not protect His servants,” Amaechina wrote. “I expected God to arise and fight for the Nigerian Christians, but He remained silent.”

I wept profusely when I saw the video of how Lawan Andimi, the chairman of a local chapter of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), was beheaded,” he continued, while honestly admitting, “His killing discouraged me so much that I wondered if these missionary risks were worth taking for a God who cannot protect His own.”

As he struggled with this, Amaechina said God finally helped him to understand what was happening.

I think that Christian martyrdom is the greatest privilege that God has given to believers,” Amaechina says. “When Stephen was stoned to death, Scripture described the scene as glorious (Acts 7:55).”

The Apostle Paul understood the mystery attached to this privilege and was eager to go to Jerusalem and die for His master,” he continued. “Have we wondered why almost all the first-generation apostles had to pass through the same process of martyrdom? Christians who are martyred have the privilege of receiving the crown of life (Rev.2:10).”

Throughout the Book of Revelation, the Apostle John spoke of the horrific persecution believers would face in the days leading up to Christ’s return.

When Amaechina wrote of the beheading video of Lawan Andimi, it reminded me of John’s description of the “souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God,” (Revelation 20:4 NASV).

These beheaded Christians, along with those who had not taken the mark of the beast, would have the honor of being resurrected first, while the rest would not be resurrected until after the 1,000-year reign of Christ.

A bit earlier (Revelation 6:11), John also had this to say about those who had been slain for their faith.

Then they were each given a white robe and told to rest a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brothers should be complete, who were to be killed as they themselves had been,” John writes.

It seems that God has set a limit on the number of people who will be martyred for their faith.

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