On Christmas Eve and day, more than 200 Christians were massacred in Nigeria by Muslim Fulani herdsmen, along with other terrorist/criminal attackers. In 2022, Nigeria was a killing field for Christians with more than 5,014 documented deaths. The numbers for 2023 will be just as alarming.
To put that in perspective, that’s nearly five times as many people as Hamas killed in the recent attack in Israel which precipitated the current war between Israel and Hamas. One prominent international organization has labeled Nigeria the deadliest country in the world for Christians.
RELATED: Check out more stories about persecution in Nigeria here.
Baptist ties to Nigeria
Baptists in Nigeria were among the slaughtered. The Nigerian Baptist Convention, with more than 8 million members, is the third largest national Baptist convention in the world. Southern Baptists sent the first missionary, Thomas Jefferson Bowen, to Nigeria in 1850.
From that single missionary, the Baptist movement has flourished for almost 175 years.
The Nigerian Baptist Convention was formed in 1914 and has spawned other national conventions in West Africa — particularly in Ghana and Sierra Leone. Southern Baptists have a historic connection to Nigerian Baptists which should make the current persecution even more personal and painful.
What can be done about these atrocities?
While prayer is the most important response, a secondary response is demanding US government assistance — particularly economic funding and humanitarian aid — be conditioned on the Nigerian government improving its protection for all religious communities. Killing any person because of their religious beliefs is wrong, must be condemned, and must be stopped — and whatever leverage we have should be used to assure this standard.
News like this should also be a sobering reminder there are real problems in the world.
Too many Americans believe misplaced outrage expresses a commitment to justice. They protest frivolous issues, take superficial actions, and trumpet righteous indignation on social media — while sipping a latte in air-conditioned comfort.
Being a Christian should shape our values so we invest ourselves emotionally in issues and events that matter — not just what trends or gains social capital.
Being a Christian — especially a Baptist — means standing with brothers and sisters around the world and demanding freedom of religion, religious expression and religious practice — without fear of reprisal or persecution or martyrdom.
May God help us stand up on issues that really matter!