Christians in Nigeria put on holiday faces despite continuing terrorist attacks

As Christmas arrived in Nigeria’s troubled northern state, believers counted what they lost and what they blessed in 2022.

Christians in Makurdi, the capital of Benue state, are celebrating Christmas despite the recent economic reversal, said the city’s American missionary Pastor Michael Burton.

“People are excited for Christmas because almost all employees get a full week of paid vacation,” Burton told the Epoch Times.

Farmers in northern Guma County have been under near-constant attacks since 2018, according to media reports.

In October and early November Rural inhabitants were slaughtered During a nighttime raid by Muslim mercenaries attacking across the border of neighboring Nasarawa and Taraba states.

Epoch Times photo
Women in Christmas costumes attend the Christmas Choir Festival in Yola, Adamawa, December 11. (Courtesy of Tom Garba)

“People don’t decorate their homes unless they’ve purchased them the previous year, but almost every night a group of carolers go door to door singing seasonal songs,” Burton said.

High commodity prices have made it difficult for many residents to buy gifts, he added.

“The federal government recently devalued the national currency, the naira, and issued new banknotes. We saw a 25% increase in exchange rates related to the U.S. dollar on black market exchanges that are trading,” Burton said.

Loud carols bounced off the rafters at the Evangelical Church Winning All Celebration in Miango, a Christian town of 15,000, 25 miles west of Jos, Plateau State.

According to Lawrence Zongo, community leader and Epoch Times reporter, “More than 500 adults, children and the elderly in the community have lost loved ones in recent raids by Fulani militants. The congregation gathered and sang songs to celebrate Christmas.”

“By 2022, at least 32 communities will have been displaced by terrorists,” said Zongo.

“Some residents have returned, but most communities in the network of villages around Miango have not returned to their homes,” he added.

“From January to September 2022 alone, 69 women were widowed as a result of attacks by Fulani herders.”

Epoch Times photo
Faith McDonnell of the Church of England protests in front of the US Peace Institute on December 16, 2022. (Provided by Hulda Fahmy)

Still, Happiness Arojo, 24, who sells fruit at Miango Market, found joy in church services. “Many people have been killed by the Fulani over the years, but I am here to praise God for keeping me alive and to celebrate the birth of Christ,” Happiness told The Epoch Times. rice field.

In Kaduna South, about 35 miles south of Jos, Christians in Maragum village are still crying after the bloody massacre of December 18 that claimed the lives of 40 unarmed men, women and children.

“People are too traumatized to celebrate Christmas this year,” said Dr. Michael Duwai, who lives in Znurk, near the killing site.

According to Yola conflict blogger Tom Galba, Christians in the notorious war zone around Lake Chad are grateful that the violent attacks have calmed down.

“Christians in northeastern Nigeria are celebrating a peaceful Christmas,” Galba told The Epoch Times.

“Christians in Adamawa state once again sang overwhelming victory songs in the final weeks of 2022, dispelling despair and regaining strong faith in Christ as the rock of salvation after Boko Haram attacks. Galba wrote that between 2014 and 2016, ISIS controlled large swaths of three northeastern states with an associated rebel group called Boko Haram (learning western is prohibited). I was.

“The 2022 Christmas celebration, like in other years, will be a group carol singing ceremony hosted by the Christian Congregation of Nigeria (CAN), Adamawa State Chapter, under the chairmanship of Rev. Steven Dami Mamza and Diocese of Yola It was celebrated with grandeur in the parish of the Catholic Church.

goodwill message

Thousands of Christmas-dressed attendees heard goodwill messages and special presentations by Protestant and Roman Catholic church groups and government officials,” said Garba.

As the Yola carolers sang, Nigerian President Muhammad Buhari attended a five-day African leaders’ conference in Washington to discuss the country’s civil war with Boko Haram rebels and recent extremist bandit gangs. claimed to have done its best to end the genocide of .

Buhari’s December 16 visit to the U.S. Peace Institute prompted protesters to take to the streets, accusing him of enabling years of carnage in central Nigeria.

Nina Shay, a Hudson Institute academic who specializes in religious freedom, called the Buhari government a genocide and an error of judgment by the U.S. State Department.

“It is difficult to pinpoint a specific incident in the fog of war. This is a war, albeit one-sided. and Buhari’s pattern of impunity for their accomplices and accomplices, and his complete indifference to the extreme suffering of his victims, is evident.

“This clearly shows that the Buhari government is complicit in the ethno-religious genocide.”

Shea continued:

“The United States should conduct independent investigations to identify units and commanders who may be eligible for military training, equipment and support, and eliminate those responsible for gross human rights abuses.

“Boko Haram, ISIS and other jihadists and Islamic extremists must be effectively fought and defeated.”

Douglas Burton

Douglas Barton is a former US State Department official stationed in Kirkuk, Iraq. He writes news and commentary from Washington, DC.