Pray for Nigeria

April 17, 2014

Updates from Drs. Cephas Tushima (PhD ‘09) and Philip Tachin (MAR '04, PhD '09) (pictured, right, with Dr. Peter Lillback)

Westminster has sent alumni to dozens of countries in the world; many alumni have returned to their home countries. One such country is Nigeria, where Cephas Tushima, Philip Tachin, and 13 other alumni serve the Lord. Cephas and Philip recently wrote to us with updates on the trials and persecution they currently face in their war-torn country.

As you read their updates, please keep them and their fellow believers in your prayers as they live for and serve the Lord in Nigeria.

From Dr. Cephas Tushima

March 27 

Cephas TushimaA couple of days ago I sent you an email with the disturbing news of the siege of our people in Central Nigeria, the Tiv people in particular. I must confess that because of my frequent travels I was not up-to-date on the state of things. I had to contact a fellow Westminster alumnus who has supplied me with more detailed facts, which are themselves very limited (because, with the complete take-over of large portions of our land, we have no access to the affected areas to get more recent facts), and some pictures as well.

No single agency is coordinating the refugee situation in Central Nigeria at the moment. Thousands of people roam without coordination. Many of them have fled to Makurdi, the capital of Benue State, and are occupying uncompleted buildings with no water, toilets, or any other amenity. It is a matter of time before epidemic breaks out, as the rainy season returns--that is, if Muslim Jihadists have not advanced on the state capital and first wiped out the refugees. State security agencies have sent Muslim members to support their co-religionists and disarm any Tiv group that they find attempting to give any resistance. It is unconscionable.

Jos, for now, is not the target. They are targeting the Tiv, who in the 1800s had stopped the advance of the Islamic Jihadists on the eastern flank of Nigeria. Then the jihadists were on horses with swords and spears. Our ancestors had arrows and were at an advantage. Now the jihadists come and move about freely with AK-47s and other machine guns, without hindrance from government forces. Our people, who had accommodated themselves to modern society and its concept of corporate governance, have no weapons to defend themselves and are being massacred in droves. We desperately need someone who can call the attention of the world to this genocide.

I spoke to a reliable source a few minutes ago, and I was told that, in Benue State alone, over 400 villages have been destroyed. The farms of these purely subsistence farmers have been turned into food for the cattle of the advancing jihadists. Many of the people have been killed, and those who survived have no means of sustenance. Any assistance that we receive could be channeled to helping these hapless refugees.

March 29

Dear Friends,

Just thought to send you this update. You may check out this newspaper article, which confirms what I anticipated a few days ago.

Philip TachinFrom Philip Tachin

April 7

Last December [2013] into the early part of this year has been the most challenging time in my ministry experience. The question of how to be consistent with the proclamation of the gospel in hostile circumstances has come to me again and again. I really wrestle with how I may lovingly share the gospel of Jesus Christ and his forgiveness with the Fulani people.

In 2009, I gave a ride to a Muslim at a time when they were attacking and killing defenseless Christians without provocation in various places in Plateau State. I felt the pains of fellow Christians being killed for no good reason. With our short conversation, we became friends, however, and eventually I shared the gospel with him.

But the pains came even closer to me when my tribe, my clan, and indeed my village and my house in Plateau State were attacked and destroyed. I did not lose any relatives, but many people in my clan were brutally killed by the Fulani. The Fulani overran whole communities, killing as many as were unable to escape their bullets--men, women and children. The Fulani were suspected of using chemical weapons, besides guns, in other communities, because many people died not as a result of bullet wounds but by inhaling a substance. We are demanding autopsies of some of the corpses to know precisely how they were killed.

This experience has challenged me in my Christian faith as never before. Being very close to the gory pictures of the slain people, I sometimes feel resentment and even anger in me against the Fulani. How can I love these people again to even want to share the gospel with them? The struggle continues daily in me. This reality makes me also realize again and again how sinful I am, that I can be angry to the point of being tempted to withhold the gospel from those that I consider to be wicked. Yet God speaks to me that my anger does not produce his righteousness in me (Jas. 1:20). What a Jonah that I am! It shows how I need to depend on the grace of Christ alone to fulfill my calling as an evangelist in all circumstances.

Please keep Cephas, Philip, and our other brothers and sisters in Christ in your prayers as they seek to live and serve the Lord in Nigeria.