Serial kidnappings weaken Nigerian Christians in their faith
A Nigerian catechist speaks about a June 19th attack on his parish where four people died, and 36 were kidnapped.
On the morning of June 19, dozens of armed members of the Fulani tribe descended on two churches in Rubuh, Kajuru Local Government Area, in southern Kaduna State. Three parishioners died in St. Moses Catholic Church; another man perished in the attack on Bege Baptist Church, where 36 people were kidnapped.
Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) talked with Emmanuel Joseph, a catechist at St. Moses Church, who was inside the church when the attack occurred.
The catechist told the Christian news agency that 40 armed men had invaded the church. The building was crowded as a Mass was going on.
“One of our young men came running towards the church building, shouting:’Run! Run! They are coming!’ Parishioners started running everywhere, chairs were broken in the process, and some were hurt trying to get away,” he recalls.
He added that as everybody panicked, he decided to stand still and wait for what would happen. Entering the church compound, the armed men shot three members outside the church: a married couple — who left seven children behind — and a young man, whose wife and three children survived.
According to the catechist, the attack lasted about 90 minutes.
“I was the last person to leave the church, after making sure that most of my parishioners were safe. What shocked me the most was that there was no security at the scene; and even after the incident, security personnel were there for less than half an hour,” he said.
He also said that the armed men attacked the local Baptist church and abducted 36 members of the congregation, primarily women.
That evening they released three of the hostages and demanded a ransom of approximately 240,000 US dollars. The catechist said that from that day on, they had not heard about the whereabouts of the hostages.
According to the released hostages, the kidnappers were Fulani, but they dressed like Boko Haram.
Kaduna State has not been peaceful since the introduction of Sharia law in 2000. There has been a series of attacks, especially on Catholic priests, Catholic worshipers, and Christians in general, and the government is doing nothing to help. Due to Fulani terrorist attacks, they sleep with one eye open.
According to the catechist, one of the most significant problems is that the people who manage to escape tend to leave their Christian faith out of fear.
“I don’t want to die” or “I will come back to Church, but not any time soon,” they say when the catechist visits them.
“Before the incident, parishioners numbered more than 300, but the Sunday after the incident only 28 members attended Mass. I pray that God will continue to encourage us, by giving us the grace to worship him in spirit and soul! We need your prayers, that we will not drop out of our heavenly race halfway.”