On these pages, I have written about some recent attacks in predominantly Christian villages in northeast Nigeria by Boko Haram, the Islamist terror group. Boko Haram’s goal is to create an Islamic state in Nigeria. (The term “Boko Haram” is Hausa for “Western Education is Sinful.”) Yesterday, Boko Haram gunmen returned in the middle of the night to the village of Izghe in northeast Nigeria. On February 15th, 106 people in the village of Izghe were murdered by terrorists. On their return Sunday morning, terrorists set fire to the remaining homes, shot residents, and set off explosives in the village, leaving all in ruins. It is estimated that approximately 10,000 residents of Izghe and neighboring villages fled in the wake of the February 15 attack. The United States and the United Nations condemned the attack of February 15. Boko Haram responded by returning to Izghe to complete the village’s destruction.
At the recent National Prayer Breakfast, about which I wrote on these pages, President Barack Obama stated, “I’ve pledged our support to the people of Nigeria, who deserve to worship in their churches and mosques in peace, free from terror.” So, once again, magic platitudinous words were spoken. In recent years, Nigeria has faced some of the worst persecution of Christians in our time. Some human rights experts have estimated that more Christians have been killed in Nigeria in recent years than in the rest of the world combined. The list of Nigerian martyrs for Jesus Christ continues to grow as hundreds have been murdered during the first seven weeks of 2014. Notwithstanding Mr. Obama’s magic words, the US Agency for International Development only funds education programs for Islamic educational institutions in northern Nigeria. (Yes, really. Your hard-earned tax dollars at work!) During a Congressional hearing last October, Congressman Christopher Smith, Republican from New Jersey, asked Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, the Honorable Linda Thomas-Greenfield, about victim assistance programs in Nigeria supported in some way by the US government. She was unable to identify any. (This was particularly unfortunate as earlier in her diplomatic career, Secretary Thomas-Greenfield served in Nigeria.) Even though Boko Haram has been at war in Nigeria since 2002, it was only on November 13, 2013, that Boko Haram was finally designated a “Foreign Terrorist Organization” by the U.S. Department of State. It seems to me that until some tangible support is offered to the many victims of Boko Haram’s attacks, Mr. Obama’s pledge remains unfulfilled, and he merely continues his use of magic words. However, I am sure that my readers agree with Mr. Obama that those of all faiths should be allowed to worship and practice their faith free from terror, both in Nigeria and elsewhere. Please pray for those persecuted for their faith in Jesus Christ in Nigeria, and for the families of the thousands of victims of Boko Haram. May their memories be eternal.