Date: May 4, 2012
File footage of previous church bombings in Nigeria.
Nigeria (CAN/MNN) ― Restraint could be nearing an end in Nigeria.
The leadership council of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) issued a "final" warning to the government this week demanding a response to the militant Islamists' eradication campaign. Boko Haram has regularly widened its targets in its insurgency which has killed more than 1,000 people since mid-2009.
There's been a new surge of deadly violence over the last several days. Attacks have been increasing steadily since Christmas Day.
Enough is enough. CAN released a statement saying that the Church leadership has been encouraging the faithful not to respond with violence, "but they can no longer guarantee such cooperation if this trend of terror is not halted immediately."
Islamist group Boko Haram has taken credit for many of the attacks on Christians in Nigeria, while scores of other attacks have not been claimed by the group but bear their hallmarks.
While urging calm, church leaders want the violence to stop, and they want better protection. Panic, in this case, would give the terrorists exactly what they want: chaos and an opportunity to make a grab for power.
Time is short. There are some Churches who are ready to take things into their own hands. According to CAN's statement, "The Christian leadership have only managed to restrain the militant groups in various churches in the country, but now they tell us that their patience is running out."
Not all Muslim leaders support the Boko Haram. There are some who decry the group's tactics. Council leaders noted some cooperation. "We wish to commend those Muslim leaders who believe and are working for peaceful co-existence of all Nigerians irrespective of religious and ethnic backgrounds. We have reasons to believe that those who are calling for a jihad are not speaking for all Nigerian Muslims, since the call is emanating from a particular section of the country."
However, Christians make easy targets, which is why they're usually at the receiving end of a call to jihad. Oritsejafor says it's not because of weakness that they do not retaliate, says CAN, "but because our religion expects us to love our neighbors as ourselves and to be at peace with all people so much so that when we are smacked on the left cheek, we turn the right cheek."
The statement went further to suggest secession is possible if the attacks continue unabated. What the Church wants is the opportunity to follow Christ without fear of intimidation or violence. "We call on law enforcement agents to carry out their Constitutional responsibility without fear or favor. They should arrest promptly and bring to justice those who make irresponsible calls for the destruction of our fatherland."
CAN's last warning was ominous. "Should the police fail in this regard, the Christian community in Nigeria will have no other option than to do whatever it deems necessary in every possible way to defend herself."
Ask God to surround those who are grieving with His love, peace, and comfort. Pray that the perpetrators of this violence will repent and turn to Jesus Christ. Pray that Christians in Nigeria will keep their eyes on Jesus, persevere in their faith, and not grow weary or lose heart.