Nigerian Christians have had enough. Thousands took to the streets this week after an attack during a church service left nearly two dozen dead last month. Among the victims were two priests, spurring Catholic leaders to protest the government for failing to do enough to protect the Christian community.
Divided between a predominantly Muslim north and a predominantly Christian south, the country is home to some of the world’s most vicious scenes of religious conflict. Boko Haram has claimed responsibility for a spate of attacks on Christian in the last decade. But, in recent years, the community faces another enemy known as the Fulani Herdsmen, the group behind the most recent attacks.
Nigerian Christians need the support of their brothers and sisters in Christ, said Gideon Para-Mallam, the former regional secretary for the International Fellowship of Evangelical Students, the international version of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship.
“It’s important that believers all the world pray for us,” said Para-Mallam. “It’s also really important that the governments of the world really, really look closely and critically at what is happening in Nigeria. Just look at the sequence, from the systemic to the frontal attacks, to the killing of Christians, and now you’re beginning to ask Christians to move away from their ancestral homes. It’s pointing somewhere and I think we need to discover that.”
Para-Mallam joined associate digital media producer Morgan Lee and editor in chief Mark Galli to discuss the history behind the country’s Muslim-Christian conflict, why the government has been so ineffective at fighting Islamists, and why there may be a bigger threat to the church than extremism.