Saturday, May 02, 2009

Nigeria earns rare designation - country of “particular concern”

Nigeria has had a special place in my life ever since I started dating my wife 30 years ago.  Denita grew up there as a “missionary kid” until she was 14-years-old, having moved there when she was still an infant. Over the years, I have met numerous of her “aunts” and “uncles” – other missionaries that her family worked with during their time there. Behind me on a stand, as I type these words, is a handcrafted wooden lamp made by some Nigerian craftsman that we wouldn’t think of ever parting with.  Nigeria, quite simply, has been part of what is our family’s legacy and history.  A few years ago, I visited Nigeria myself, as part of my duties with VOMC, visiting persecuted believers in the northern states in cities like Kaduna and Kano.  The population of Nigeria is pretty much evenly split between Christian and Islam, with Christians predominant in the south and Muslims in the north. 

So it was with special interest that I read the following report this morning in the online version of WORLD Magazine.

The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom released its annual report Friday advising the State Department of nations with “ongoing, egregious violations of religious freedom,” adding Nigeria to the notorious list titled “countries of particular concern,” which also includes Iran and North Korea.

The report argued that the Nigerian government’s response to sectarian strife has been “inadequate and ineffectual . . . resulting in thousands of deaths.” [read more…]

The Voice of the Martyrs does a great deal of work in Nigeria, particularly in caring for Christian children who have suffered the loss of one or both of their parents due to persecution. Our sister mission, Voice of the Christian Martyrs, does a tremendous ministry throughout the country. 

Please pray for our co-workers in Nigeria today.  Pray that the Nigerian government will respond to this particular designation by the U.S. Commission On International Religious Freedom with a determination to improve its response to religious persecution in northern Nigeria.

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