Last month VOM's Todd Nettleton visited the nation of Nigeria to meet with and interview persecuted Christians, including several who have been treated in the new prosthetics clinic provided by VOMedical. Last week Todd was a guest on Moody Radio's program, “In the Market With Janet Parshall,” and talked about the trip and the people he met with in Nigeria. Listen to the interview below.
Photo of the day: this photo was taken recently by a VOM team visiting Nigeria. The team was blessed to meet with Nigerian Christians, hear their stories of persecution and faith, and pray with them for God to bless them and to bless the church in Nigeria.
The support of VOM readers provided 16 patients with prosthetic legs in January 2013. "I feel so happy!" said Esther, a woman who received one of the prosthetic legs.
Attacks against Christians in Nigeria have increased over the past three years. As the number of victims has grown, VOM has responded with a one-of-a-kind medical clinic. This special prosthetics lab will greatly improve the lives of amputees. "Providing them with mobility will impact not only their own quality of life, but also that of their families," said a VOM medical worker.
Enjoy this video of some of those blessed by this ministry:
“There is something about experience . . . When somebody becomes a Christian after he has persecuted the church, he knows what persecution is about and it is important to support him to be able to go back and live the Christian life and be an evangelist because he has something to say to persecutors. He can say, ‘I have been there; I know what it means.’ He has a message that is not only theoretical but personal—a message that is out of both the Bible and personal experience that will reach out to the people because of his personal experience.”
Chibundu has pastored seven churches and now works exclusively with Muslims to evangelize them. He cautions others who are dealing with Muslims who seek to harm them: show love, not anger. For God can use anyone to build His kingdom.
“It is very easy for people to become so angry with those who are persecuting them. If you look at it humanly, logically, there is a reason to be angry. But as Christians we need to see them from the lens of compassion,” he explained. “When somebody is lost, when somebody is operating from a point that he’s almost blindfolded, he doesn’t know what he’s doing—he is just programmed and brainwashed. We need to see it from that perspective and have compassion and mercy on this person and see where he is coming from. Our reaction should be to consider what we can do to help this person come to an understanding of what he is doing so that the love of Jesus Christ will show him the light. People like this are blindfolded; they don't know what they are doing. They think this is the only way to heaven, but there is another way and they don't know about it. That's why we need to go and lovingly call them to the One who said, 'Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.'" (Matthew 11:28).
“Chibundu" was a radical Muslim persecutor of Christians until he met Jesus. His story is one of those told in VOM’s new book, Saul to Paul: From Persecutor to Christ Follower. Order your copy online.
In 2007, Babasola’s oldest son was attending classes at his university [in Nigeria] when three Muslim men armed with machetes approached him. They called out his name.
“We have not come to rob you,” they said. “We have come to kill you because you are your father’s son.” The men slit his throat.
“It was very difficult,” Babasola said of the loss of his son. “But there is no sacrifice that is too big for God.”
Babasola continues to minister to Muslims. He secretly counsels Quranic teachers, mullahs, and sheiks who want to become Christians. He is a lamb among wolves who has intimate knowledge of the wolf’s lair. So many men in Muslim villages come up to him and tell him they are Christians because of him. He works a lot with persecutors. He even visited the man who had planned his son’s killing to offer forgiveness.
The man rebuffed Babasola, but after hearing about the exchange on a radio program, the man’s son showed up at Babasola’s home seeking to know Christ. “I discovered that love is the ultimate,” Babasola said. “If you want to win Muslims to your side, you have to love them—not with the human type of love, but with the love you yourself have experienced through Christ.”
In our work around the world we have met many Saul-to-Paul conversions like Babasola’s. They cause us to ask, “Who is my enemy?” For if we treat our persecutors as enemies, how will we ever win them to Christ? When VOM founder Pastor Richard Wurmbrand encountered vicious persecutors while locked inside a Romanian Communist prison, he viewed them not as enemies but as harvest. And indeed one of his violent captors became a Christian. Believers like these show a special love—God’s love—toward our so-called enemy.
“Instead of treating them as enemies, pity them, because it’s not them, it’s something that is motivating them,” Babasola said. “Because when I was there I did not know what I was doing. I was once a persecutor, but now through His grace He has forgiven me. This is God’s love. And though we have been persecuted we are not crushed...We are willing to die so that others will live.”
“Babasola” was a radical Muslim persecutor of Christians until he met Jesus. His story is one of those told in VOM’s new book, Saul to Paul: From Persecutor to Christ Follower. Order your copy online.
As we meet with our family members around the world, we often celebrate with them as they share miraculous accounts of God’s direct intervention in their lives. A specialized team of four women from VOM just returned from two weeks in Nigeria. These women offered listening ears, hours of prayer and profound words of encouragement to a dozen widows of Christian martyrs.
During one of their sessions, a widowed sister shared that one year after her husband’s death, she was seriously contemplating abandoning her faith. She had three young children at the time and life was extremely difficult for her. Every day was a long struggle to provide for her family and to try to guide them spiritually. Then a friend came to visit, bringing with her a ray of hope in the midst of this widow’s darkness.
During their time together, her friend turned to Revelation 6, and read, “When He opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held. And they cried with a loud voice, saying, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” Then a white robe was given to each of them; and it was said to them that they should rest a little while longer, until both the number of their fellow servants and their brethren, who would be killed as they were, was completed” (Rev. 6:9-11).
These words pierced this widow’s heart like a dart. She
felt a strong confirmation that her husband did not die in vain and that he was
now part of a communion of martyrs sheltered under the altar of Almighty God.
It is a deep honor and a gift to be able to serve as one of many “voices” for the sisters and brothers we serve. We learn more from their example each day. We can’t leave any of our family members behind. And, in the process of serving them, we are able to draw strength from their victories, and to learn from their examples. Please pray that God will help us, and the family members that we serve, to keep our eyes fixed on the distant horizon, knowing that God is with us and that we too will find “rest” at His altar.
Dr. Jason Peters serves in VOM’s International Ministries department, traveling frequently to meet with our persecuted brothers and sisters around the world. He lived overseas for five years and has ministered in 28 countries as diverse as Cuba, Nepal, Iraq and Indonesia. He and his wife, Kimberly, along with their five children, count it a great honor to serve with the persecuted church. Dr. Peters will be one of the speakers at VOM's regional conference in Colorado Springs, CO on April 6.
Although it hasn't received a great deal of media coverage, late last month a Boko Haram commander spoke publicly about a cease-fire in the group's ongoing war with the Nigerian government.
It's too early to tell if this is a legitimate change in direction for the Nigerian-based radical Islamic group, and the Boko Haram commander who made the statements isn't the group's top leader. One of the principal demands of the cease-fire is the unconditional release of all Boko Haram members currently imprisoned in Nigeria, a demand the Nigerian government seems unlikely to meet.
Boko Haram (loosely translated as "Western education is a sin") has pushed for the adoption of Sharia law in northern Nigeria and has publicly stated that Christians in the area have three choices: leave, become Muslims or die.
Nigeria's leaders and military have viewed recent developments with guarded optimism; the military has said it will wait 30 days to see if attacks continue before deciding how serious Boko Haram is about a cease-fire. Meanwhile, the media have reported increased business activity and more people on the streets in Maiduguri, the capital of Borno state and "headquarters" of Boko Haram.
Please PRAY with Christians in Nigeria for lasting peace. Pray that Muslims there will be reached with the gospel and come to know Christ personally. And pray for God's protection of our Christian brothers and sisters, regardless of whether the cease-fire holds. If you'd like to contribute to support VOM's work in Nigeria and other Muslim nations, you can do so here.
If you've followed VOM for any length of time, you might have seen reports about a children's home in Nigeria. The Stephen Centre, run by a VOM partner, is home to more than 300 "Nigerian Special Children."
Almost all of these children lost at least one parent in religious violence in northern Nigeria. So they have come to the south, to a safe place where they live together on a small campus, have all their needs met and attend school. It's a long, expensive journey back to their homes in the north, and the children make that trip just once a year, during the July-August summer holidays. The rest of the year, they have to make do with a few phone calls to help connect them to the rest of the family.
To our Western ears, this may sound like an awful situation for a child to be in. It's not ideal, obviously. We'd prefer that these children's parents were alive and able to care for them. But the reality is that when these men are killed (it's usually the men who are killed, though not always), the mothers struggle to support their families. VOM helps address this through job training and small business creation, but often it's still not enough.
One of the driving principles of VOM's international work is to come alongside the persecuted church, ask them what they need and help them accomplish it. In the case of the children of martyred parents in Nigeria, that need is education, room and board. Their remaining family members were willing to send them to a safer place to study while they maintained their Christian witness in the North. For many, it wasn't an easy choice, but it was a necessary choice.
In Africa, there's a strong tradition of children being sent to live with relatives far away to gain a better education. Africans, and especially Nigerians, who have to pay for even elementary-level schooling, understand the crucial importance of an education. Many of the mothers of children at the Stephen Centre work as "petty traders," selling produce, cloth, grain or wares in a small market. Today, their children are dreaming of becoming doctors and lawyers. And through the help of the Stephen Centre, those dreams can be fulfilled.
YOUR TURN: Can you imagine having to live apart from your children in order for them to be safe and get an education? How will thinking about that separation affect the way you pray for Nigerian Christians?
If there has been one nation on my heart this year, it is Nigeria because of the intense persecution of Christians by Boko Haram. We even saw the Jubilee Campaign petition President Obama with the hopes of getting enough people aware of the terrorism of Boko Haram so that the United States State Department would defund Boko Haram. Sadly, that hasn't happened yet.
The following is from Mission Network News:
Nigeria (MNN) ― Boko Haram, a Nigerian militant Islamist group, had their bloodiest year in 2012, responsible for over 750 deaths.
General Aziza, Nigeria’s former national security advisor, says the
upscale in Boko Haram’s terrorist attacks may be linked with the
upcoming 2015 Nigerian presidential elections.
When President Goodluck Jonathan, a Christian, was elected president of
Nigeria in 2011, a series of Boko Haram killings followed. Boko Haram
made threats on the president to resign or else turn Nigeria into an
Rae Burnett, the Africa Director for Christian Aid Mission,
explains, “I do believe that it’s spiritual warfare, but it’s
definitely the desire to see that Islam is the world religion. They
start where they are, and these guys are Nigerian, so they want to be
empowered in Nigeria.”
Several of the Muslim-majority Northern states began declaring
themselves under Sharia law after the 2011 elections. Of the 32 Nigerian
states, 12 currently are govern by Islamic Sharia law. 2015 will be
Muslims’ next chance to gain power in Nigeria’s political arena.
However, Boko Haram grew quiet on the large-scale attack front earlier
this month. The fact that Christmas was approaching—the biggest
Christian holiday of the year—wasn’t lost on anyone and created an eerie
silence. Attacks were expected, especially since Boko Haram has
declared intent to eradicate Christians from Nigeria.
And Boko Haram militants have the means to back up this desire. With
ties to Al-Qaeda and funding for weapons, they fight in pockets and
avoid any clashes with the Nigerian military. They’ve gotten bolder.
According to Burnett, “They do whatever is in front of them. If it’s a
school bus, they’ll blow it up. If it’s a school, they’ll blow it up.
They’re trying to make people afraid.”
Because of the disjointed nature of Boko Haram’s fighting tactics,
several smaller attacks still occur weekly in Northern Nigeria, but they
are largely unreported.
Burnett shares, “Once, I read [about another attack] and called my
friend [in Nigeria] and said, ‘Why didn’t you tell me about this?’ He
said, ‘Look, if I tell you about every terrorist attack, we would be on
the phone all the time.’ They’ve become so common place that they are
happening every day. We don’t hear about them.”
The attacks have gotten so bad in the state where Christian Aid’s
headquarters are located that they need to move to a safer site. But
Christian Aid can’t do it without the funds. Out of the $40,000 needed,
they only have $10,000—enough to buy the land and lay a foundation.
Christian Aid still needs $30,000 to finish the headquarter buildings
“They really need to move from the state where they are now,” says
Burnett. “Two and three times a week, they are suffering terrorist
But despite the danger, the 120 missionaries in Nigeria associated with
Christian Aid are staying in the ministry field. “They are committed to
making the Lord known and dying for Him if need be,” says Burnett.
“They’re doing wonderful work, and many people are coming to Christ.”
Pray for Christians in Nigeria to persevere and hold fast to their hope
in the Lord. Pray for many others in Nigeria to come to know Christ and
for church leaders to advance their ministry.
Terrorist grouop Boko Haram is usually behind it, not hesitating to shoot or severely beat Christians. This summer,
the terror sect issued a press release essentially giving believers
two choices: convert to Islam, or die. Christians involved in evangelism
often face the most danger because they're on the spiritual "front
Take Evangelist Johnson, for example. He was on his way to a preaching
crusade in Bauchi, Nigeria, when a group of angry Muslims stopped his
"Chanting, they closed the road," he recounts in a video interview. "The driver stopped because they covered the road.
"Then they started beating us."
Johnson woke up in a hospital the next morning with serious injuries. He
could've harbored bitterness, but the Spirit of God worked in his
"When I look at myself [in pictures taken after his beating], these
people have crippled me.... I was angry," he said. "But when I remember
with the faith I have inside, I say, 'Lord, have mercy on them. Forgive
In response to the upsurge of persecution in Nigeria, VOM created a
medical ministry to provide for both physical and spiritual healing. VOM
Medical pays for persecuted believers' medical bills and consults with
doctors to make sure believers are receiving the treatment they require.
VOM Medical also provides counseling and spiritual encouragement.
"What VOM has done for me has increased the passion in me," says
Johnson. VOM Medical staff visited him in the hospital and supplied him
with a book called Tortured for Christ. "This book…has changed me."
With persecution persisting in Nigeria, VOM Medical needs your help to continue their work. By clicking here, you can help provide much-needed encouragement to believers as they recover.