Prayers for Nigeria Day 6

Dear Friends

I greatly enjoyed my first Sunday in Nigeria. Today I was struck by the vast differences between people. In the morning I attended a church service in the capitol city of Abuja. The church campus was very large containing several buildings which serve both the church and the Christian school attached to it.

The inside of the church was very technical, with modern earbuds, wireless mics, and massive video screens. The sound system was impressive to say the least, in fact I’ve been to rock concerts with lower average decibel levels. The sermon was inspiring, full of hope and joy, and I felt very welcomed.

In the afternoon we visited one of the northern states to interview an Anglican bishop concerning the persecution of Christians in his state. The entrance to the Church compound was guarded by a soldier so old and so fierce that it would not surprise me to learn that he had been originally trained by the British! The man was half-deaf, but very committed protecting his bishop.

The Anglican bishop was one of the most impressive men I have met so far in Nigeria, and I have met some impressive men. He was concise, even pausing for me as I was taking notes. Unlike most of those that I have interviewed, this bishop had clear requests for the international community. Put pressure on the Nigerian government to arrest these people (whom he listed by name), add their names to the list of known terrorists, and seize their foreign accounts to make it harder for them to fund large-scale attacks.

The thing that struck me most was how close these two churches were in space yet how far apart they were in the realities they faced. I’ll have to think more on the subject but that was my initial impression.

Dear Lord

I thank You for bringing me to Nigeria, to bear witness to the way that Your children bring honor to Your Name. There is so much pain in what I have seen, so much horror and the wreckage of human lives has not grown any easier to bear in my short time here. Yet there is still hope.

Lord, You remind me that whatever happens in the North, or even to Nigeria as a whole there is still always hope for your people. And You will continue to provide, in marvelous and miraculous ways. Lord once again, I thank you for preparing the way for this trip. In so many ways I feel that I am not assessing what needs to be done, but discovering what is already unfolding in your marvelous plan.

Lord I thank you for the generosity of the Nigerian people, for once again providing me a place to stay tonight. I pray that you would help me to rest well. Lord as tomorrow the schedule of meetings picks up once again, I pray that my mind would be sharp and alert as I strive to serve you well.

Amen.

Prayers for Nigeria Day 5

Dear Friends

Today is a day of rest. Half way through my time here, we only had one informal meeting today. The rest of the day was spent in helpful rest and thank God, we are in the home of an extremely gracious Nigerian host not another night in a hotel.

Not that I have anything against the hotels we have stayed in, they have been very nice places. But there is something special and significant in being invited into someone’s home and given a room there. About receiving advice from a gracious lady on how to endure the Nigerian heat, and hearing the stories of wise man who has walked with God for a long time.

I was privileged to join their family devotions, which they do every night before they go to bed. As we sang songs, read a brief scripture passage and listened to a section from the Daily Bread, I was struck by the fact that none of the couple’s own children were present. Two of the girls there were relatives, nieces as it happens, and another was a longtime family friend. But they still called it family devotions and if I had stepped into the house at that moment, I would have assumed that the three girls were their daughters.

During the prayer at the end of the devotion my host went mentioned  cities in the north by name, praying for the Christians there. Over the past two months, I have been studying northern Nigeria intensely and over the past week I have interviewed people from most of these places. So the prayer tonight will be a simple list of 7 cities in Nigeria and a short description of what the Christians have suffered there. I hope that as you go about your weekend that you will pray, knowing that this is only the tip of the iceberg.

Lord we pray for your Children

In Maiduguri, the longtime headquarters of Boko Haram in Nigeria, where churches are burned and Christians killed almost at will.

In Potiskum, where houses were tagged with Arabic graffiti to identify the Christians for house to house killings done “ethnic cleansing” style.

In the city of Kaduna, where there is a literal bridge between the Muslim and Christian halves of the city and tensions run high.

In  Kano where Boko Haram killed over 200 people in a single attack less than a month ago.

In Tafawa Balewa where Christians have experienced decades of systematic discrimination and targeted violence in an effort to push them off of their ancestral lands.

And last but not least, Jos, beautiful Jos which has known an entire decade of violence, wiping out a reputation for peace that was known throughout the whole of Nigeria.
Lord we pray that You would hold Your children close. Give them peace even as they live with death every day. Lord we thank you that of all people we can grieve with hope, and that those Christians who have lost family and friends can take comfort in Your promises. But Lord we also pray for justice to be done, that your name would be vindicated. Lord the blood of innocents cries out to from the ground. Let justice be done.

In Your name oh Lord

Amen

Prayers for Nigeria Day 3 & 4

Dear friends

I apologize for failing to post last night. It was a very exciting day interviewing Christians from many of the wide and varied parts of Nigeria. The tales were heartrending and left you awed by the faith of these followers of Christ. Before we get to the prayer, I want to share with you this brief account that one of our team wrote up about a convert we interviewed.

EDIT: The convert whose story follows this is a different person from the 79 year old pastor. The pastor was one of several hundred internally displaced persons from Yobe State who had been driven out of their ancestral lands by Islamist attacks.

“He lost his entire family because of his conversion to Christ. The sharia court granted his wife divorce on the grounds that her husband was now a pagan. She married a muslim. His first son wanted to go with him but the convert told his son to wait because he didn’t want the boy to grow up without a mother.

Fearing the boy would persist and become a Christian too, his muslim relatives poisoned and killed him. After a few years his wife died of an illness. His remaining son, the only remaining member of his family was given a “scholarship” by the state government to study Islamic studies in Libya. On his way to Libya, the vehicle carrying him crashed, killing the boy.

After 5 attempts on his life, he finally relocated within Nigeria. We offered him to consider political asylum abroad. He said he is the only Christian in his entire local government area. He told us “I was born in Nigeria. I will die in Nigeria.”

After all I saw today February 9th 2012, I wonder if I have ever been or seen a Christian.”

In the light of that story let us pray.

Lord, in the wake of all the people that I have met over the past few days. I thank you for the pastors that you have given to Nigeria. Perhaps, indeed it is likely that you have guided my steps to exceptional representatives of their ranks. But again and again when I meet these pastors I meet people who are exceptional, the best and brightest that their communities had, offered to Your service.

Lord I pray for our efforts in Nigeria. The recent violence has drawn attention and efforts from all over the world. I pray for these efforts, so many of which either fail to help or do even greater harm because of misinformation, inaccuracies, and outright lies. Eventually the truth will win out. Lord God may that day come quickly.

Lord I pray for the honest men of Nigeria. Lord the irony that those who try to do their jobs without favoritism are slandered and often fired on charges of corruption. I pray that you would strengthen and encourage those who choose to do the right thing anyway, knowing that at any moment it could mean the end of their careers.

Lord I pray for those who have been forced to flee from their homes. Lord I listened to a man explain that when people go from house to house killing Christians that it is not safe for children. And in his eyes there was a sense almost as if he was ashamed that he had left, shamed that he fled a coordinated religious cleansing! Oh Lord, I do not deserve to be counted next to such a man!

Lord God I pray for their elderly, for that magnificent 79 year old man who preached the Gospel for so long, held the line for so long. Lord my heart breaks that after such a lifetime of service that this reverend, this shepherd, this father and grandfather, this protector of the weak was forced to flee. It broke something inside of him, I think, to leave the land of his fathers and I do not know if he will ever be healed this side of heaven. I do know that looking at him looking at his eyes I felt such a respect for the man that I cannot express. If there was anything of mine that could have eased his pain, I would have given it without hesitation.

Lord you know the truth. I pray that we would speak the truth to the world. Lord touch the hearts of those with agendas, and let them for once in their lives choose to put others first, and not seek their personal advantage at the cost of all else. Lord, I know that only you can make that happen. But Lord if people try to do business as usual, the killing will not stop until every Christian in the north of Nigeria is dead!

Lord save your people!

Amen

Second Day’s Prayer

Lord I pray for the Nigerian people.

Lord I pray for the consequences of living with endemic insecurity, when military checkpoint snarl traffic around hotel entrances for literally hours at a time. When churches must have guards every time their doors are open, oh God protect Your people!

Lord how to motivate a system that only seems interested in quelling the violence after bodies are lying on the ground, and does not move to prevent before or prosecute afterward.

Lord I pray that You would raise up in Nigeria men like Job, who delivered the poor and the fatherless, who broke the fangs of the wicked and plucked the victims from their teeth. Lord I pray that you would encourage those men who have that caliber of soul but are disheartened and sabotaged by the system.

Lord I pray for strength for those men who have every human reason to give themselves over to hate, who have lost homes and land, friends and family. I thank you that if there are any cowards in Nigeria, that you have not sent them my way. But Lord for men who are not cowards to endure such things! Lord I do not have the strength or the wisdom for such a thing, but I believe that you do and I am amazed at the way that your Spirit shows itself, more and more true in the lives of these men.

I thank You for the Nigerian pastors that You have guided me to. I thank You for the unity of the Spirit that is possible between Christians across nations and cultures. It is marvelous beyond words to travel half-way around the world, and feel the same presence of God in people and be able to find unity with them instantly.

I thank you for the reminder that even under all the violence the work of the Gospel goes on, and You are bringing many to Your Name. Lord I praise You for the courage of those who see the light of Christ and return to preach to their families, even when those families come against them with hatred.

Lord lest I forget, I pray for Muslims who have been killed by Boko Haram, I pray that you will open their eyes to see that no one is safe when people use their faith as an excuse to indulge their bloodlust.

Lord I pray that Nigerians will remember the duty that they have to one another as part of the same community, the same nation, the same world. For you created us all equal and certain things are owed to one another simply because we were all made by God, and He demands that we respect what He has made.

Lord I pray for my work here. I thank you for all the little ways that You show me that You have laid the groundwork, in preparation for divine appointments which work out to Your design. I pray that this trip would be another step in a mighty work that would see peace come to Nigeria.

Lord keep me safe as I travel, give me rest when I sleep.

Amen

Prayers for Nigeria Day 1

Due to the fluid nature of the situation here in Nigeria, it would be inadvisable to post details of our trip day by day. So I have decided to post a prayer every night. This prayer will be informed by what I have learned over the course of the day but will contain no specifics. I encourage you to pray along with me and hope you enjoy this means of participation.

The First Day’s Prayer

Lord I thank you for travel mercies, and a long long day now done.

I thank you for this marvelous opportunity and pray that you would direct us to see just what you want us to see.

Lord I praise you for the mighty hearts of the Nigerian Christians. They have endured so much for so long.

Oh God, I pray that your grace would be on them to sustain them, for when 3 weeks without a murderous explosion is considered relatively peaceful, Lord the trials are heavy indeed.

Lord we pray that you would raise up a just government in Nigeria, one which would fulfill your mandate to keep order in society.

I pray your blessing and protection on our trip

In Jesus Name

Amen