February 2016

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What is Boko Haram?

by Developed by a Nigerian prayer team

Boko Haram (meaning Western education is forbidden) is a radical Islamic terrorist organization which started in 2002 as a moderate group with an operational base in northeastern Nigeria.
Today it is also active in Cameroon, Niger, and Chad, and it has an estimated membership of 7,000 to 10,000 foot soldiers. In 2014, Boko Haram pledged support for ISIS. It made its formal declaration of allegiance to ISIS in March, 2015. In July, 2009, its founder and spiritual leader, Mohammed Yusuf, was executed. This paved the way for Abubakar Shekau, deputy to Mohammed Yusuf, to assume a leadership role. This led to the radicalization of this group.
Boko Haram began attacking soft targets. And as it became more violent in its operations, suicide bombings became a regular occurrence, especially starting in 2011 when public buildings, churches, and motor parks became targets.
From 2009 to the present, Boko Haram members have killed no fewer than 13,000 persons. Contra Culture E-Magazine says 11,213 Christians have so far died, and 1,560,000 Christians have been displaced. These attacks include the December 25, 2011, bombing of St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Madalla, Abuja, where hundreds of deaths occurred. There was also a massacre of students (boys) in their dorms at a secondary school on February 25, 2014, in the town of Buni Yadi, Yobe State —all the boys were burnt to death in their sleep. Christians were either shot to death while in worship or burnt alive with all entrance and exit doors locked. The Church of the Brethren, a congregation in northeastern Nigeria, has reportedly lost about 8,000 members to Boko Haram attacks.
Christian women who are pregnant and refuse to denounce their faith have their wombs slit apart and the fetuses removed and killed. Men who refuse to denounce Christ are executed in front of their wives and children. Their wives and daughters are later raped while the boys are forced to join the group or be executed if they don’t comply. Many pastors have been brutally executed in the presence of their wives and children.

How Did Boko Haram Gain Power?
—By Kennedy Alechenu, a Nigerian Christian worker whose family was caught in the crossfire between Boko Haram and the Nigerian military.

I am writing this piece with mixed feelings: feelings of uncertainty because of the direction our current government has taken and a sense of excitement because l see the events leading to Christ’s second coming in my time.
It is sad that the northeast of Nigeria is in the news for all the wrong reasons. Many people have been trying to find out the root causes of this insurgency, but to no avail. Some have suggested unemployment, politics and religious extremism as some of the possible reasons for the killings; but none of this has really addressed some salient questions like: Who are these insurgents? What is the war all about? What do they want? Who are their sponsors? Most of these questions remain unanswered and shrouded in mystery.
Some people feel that the rise of Boko Haram may be attributed to the failure of the past President of Nigeria, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, and his government, who was perceived as too weak because of the way he handled the Boko Haram rebels. The kidnapping of the now famous Chibok school girls dented the image of that administration. Many felt if the government had acted quickly those girls would have been rescued.

Nigeria: A Country Divided Along Religious Lines

Nigeria is a highly religious country, and it is divided along ethnic and religious lines. For many years Christians in the Muslim dominated north have had to face different forms of persecution. The emergence of Boko Haram is seen by many northern Nigerian Christians as another attempt to forcefully Islamize the country because previous attempts failed.
Prior to the 2015 general elections, Muslims across the north had prepared themselves for a massive attack on Christians in the event that their candidate, Muhammadu Buhari, lost the election. Millions of Christians from other parts of the country had to relocate to their home states to avoid been killed. From all this, you will understand that the Nigerian crisis is complex. Politics and religion are blended into a dangerous mix.
When the current president Muhammadu Buhari lost the elections in 2011, he vowed to make the country ungovernable for the then president, Goodluck Jonathan. It was at that point that Boko Haram stepped up its attacks in the northeast while other militias started their carnage in the middle belt region of the country. States like Benue, Taraba, Plateau, and Kaduna (which have large Christian populations) came under serious attacks with many lives lost and millions of dollars worth of properties destroyed.
Another factor that gave Boko Haram prominence was the number of supporters they had and still have in Nigeria’s security apparatus. How they were able to infiltrate the rank and file of the army, police, and secret service is still a mystery. They frustrated attempts by the then government of Goodluck Jonathan to quash the group.
Today the northeast is badly damaged because politicians and Islamic leaders are collaborating with Boko Haram to gradually take over the soul of Nigeria. It is our belief that their aim is to establish an Islamic caliphate in the northeast and gradually move to other parts of the country. This group is never short of recruits. The number of street urchins in the north has increased astronomically in recent times. It is from this pool that the Islamic group easily gets its recruits. Many of them are drug addicts and sex slaves. Recently the use of some kidnapped girls and women as suicide bombers is on the rise. The most appalling of all is the giving away of girls between the ages of 11 and 13 as potential suicide bombers by their parents.
Today these attacks are fewer, but what about tomorrow? So many dear brothers and sisters have lost their lives. Missionaries have been displaced, and Christian work slowed down.

Prayer Points From Various Nigerian Believers

Pray for spiritual transformation
Pray for a spiritual revival in the northeast that will result in Muslims embracing Christ.
Pray for the Christian south (west and east) to wake up and be on fire for God.
Pray for God to visit these Islamists, who see their actions as a service to God, just like Saul of Tarsus once thought it was good to persecute Christians.
Pray for God’s judgment on the wicked
Pray for God to halt this army sent from the pit of hell.
Ask the Lord to bring confusion to the pledged alliance between Boko Haram and ISIS; let them rise up against each other.
Pray that God will dislodge and expose all politicians using Boko Haram to cause chaos, pain, hardship, and death to Nigerians.
Pray for God to expose and destroy the assets of all sponsors of Boko Haram.
Pray for God to avenge the deaths of our Christian brothers and sisters. “Vengeance is mine says the Lord.”
Pray that the coalition among sub-regional forces including Nigeria, Chad, and Cameroon will work in unity of purpose to bring about a total defeat of Boko Haram.
Pray for God’s mercy for the innocent
Pray for the God of peace to restore peace to this troubled zone.
No fewer than 500 women and children have been kidnapped by Boko Haram. Ask the Lord to swiftly intervene to secure the release of these girls in such a way that even Boko Haram members will see that it is the hand of the Lord.
Pray for the restoration of all lost territories to their rightful owners.
Pray for millions of street urchins to start asking questions that will challenge the Islamic faith and will lead to their salvation in Christ. Pray that their needs will be met in such a way that they will no longer look to murderous criminals for their survival.
Pray for God to comfort those who have lost loved ones: fathers, mothers, and children. Pray that in their pain, they will still hold onto God and not turn from Him.
Many places of worship have been burnt. Ask the Lord to provide new places of worship for His children. Pray that His people will be willing to give their resources to rebuild worship centers.

From the Editor

by Keith Carey

Dear Praying Friends,
How do you pray for monstrous terrorist organizations like the Boko Haram who are active in Nigeria? They torture and kill people who do not agree with them. Do you pray for the Lord to curse or bless them? I believe that you can do both. When I think of the members of Boko Haram, I pray for them to have dreams and visions of the terrifying judgment of the Lord that perhaps will drive them to His loving arms. Such people live as if there will be no judgment. But there is a judgment day and punishment for sin, and it will be eternal. It will be far worse than anything they can imagine.
Innocent children have been robbed of their parents and sometimes forced to fight for an evil cause. Intelligent young women, who have been created by God for His purposes, have been forced to become sex slaves to service evil men.
We need to keep in mind that these things have happened since the beginning of time when God created man. There are many such examples in Genesis. And a thousand years ago church members prayed to be protected from the “wrath of the Norsemen (Vikings)” who were attacking Ireland and who eventually became Christians.
We must call on the Lord to bare His powerful arm to bring justice and sometimes judgment to mankind. For this reason I thought it was appropriate to use excerpts from Exodus as a reminder of what God is capable of doing.
God can and does reach people for Christ during hard times. One of my main Nigerian sources for this GPD issue tells me that Boko Haram is most likely to find recruits from the Hausas, the Fulanis, and the Kanuris. But he told me that members of these same people groups have turned to the Lord after seeing the damage Boko Haram can cause in the name of Islam.