In a private church meeting last week, a Christian bishop from Nigeria reported on his struggle at the front lines of radical Islamic terrorism. A boy soldier in his youth, the bishop preached the gospel for many years in the country’s violent north, where the Islamic State (ISIS)-linked terrorist group Boko Haram holds sway. Even in his home in the country’s rural east he faces threats from radical Islam.
“Islam in Nigeria is the most serious problem we have today,” the bishop said. “The problem is systematic.”
In May, 19 people — including two priests — were murdered at a Catholic Church, inspiring mass protests and claims that Muslims are carrying out an “ethnic cleansing” and a “Christian genocide.” Over 13,000 churches in Nigeria’s northeast have been destroyed by Boko Haram, Anglican Mainstream reported. As of 2016, Boko Haram had killed over 20,000 people and displaced 2.2 million, according to the UN. The terror group kidnapped hundreds of girls in 2014 and earlier this year, sparking international outrage.
Boko Haram is also not the only radical Islamic terror group in the region. Jama’atu Ahlis-Sunna Lidda’Awati Wal-Jihad (People Committed to the Prophet’s Teachings for Propagation and Jihad) has focused attacks on Christians, as have Islamist Fulani cattle herdsmen who have destroyed hundreds of villages and killed thousands since 2014.
While he faces radical Islam in Nigeria, the bishop warned about the worldwide threat. “The Muslim agenda is a global agenda. I feel so disappointed that when things like this are happening, we have infighting among Christians.” Due in part to this infighting, he warned that Muslims “are almost overtaking U.K., France, the Netherlands.”
“The agenda in Nigeria is how to Islamize Nigeria, how to oppress us, how to intimidate us,” he said.
The bishop lamented that Christianity is fractured and distracted in the face of this threat. “The Christians in Nigeria, due to our denominational differences, do not speak in one voice. Ninety-nine percent of them are after money, after prosperity,” he said. “Many don’t know what it means to be a Christian.”
The bishop, who spent years in the north and east but has traveled extensively throughout Nigeria, described terrorists like Boko Haram as rather impactful “against minority Christians in the north, but they are driving east and southward as well.”
Even though ISIS is on the run in the Middle East, radical Islam is a threat throughout Nigeria and in many other parts of the world.
The bishop asked for prayer. “Pray that Christians in Nigeria are awakened to our responsibility, that the sleeping giant will wake up,” he said.
Despite the dire situation, the brave minister declared his confidence that God will prevail in his country. “My spirit ministers to me that there will be a divine revolution in Nigeria. It will neutralize all these forces of evil,” he prophesied.
“The genuine Muslims who are not terrorists and the genuine Christians will be at peace,” the bishop declared. “They will have repentance, and God will show mercy, righteousness will reign.”
In separate remarks to PJ Media, the bishop explained what he meant by “genuine Muslims.”
“We can’t say that all Muslims are terrorists,” the minister said. He mentioned Muslim reformers, who push for religious pluralism and toleration and who essentially say “live and let live.”
“But there are people who say, ‘You must be like me and if you are not like me then you are not people,'” the bishop said. He made a crucial distinction between “people who want to hold their faith versus people who want to impose their faith on you.”
As for his experience in the Nigerian Civil War (1967-1970), child soldiers in the war were not unheard of, having been reported in at least one documentary. The bishop tied this experience to his faith in God and his call to become a minister.
“I had a genuine call,” he said. “As a result of the experiences I had as a boy soldier in the Nigerian Civil War, we touched death but we didn’t die. When the war was over, the Lord gave me a genuine call which I did not answer immediately.”
After 8 years of intensive training with English and American missionaries, he became ordained, and he trained people for evangelism — and faith healing.
“People have now been empowered to pray for the sick in their parishes,” he recalled. The bishop has also launched a great many programs to help the people in his diocese.
The bishop started a water bottling company to give young unemployed men and women work to do. He also helps sustain mission schools, which teach children better than government schools. He is attempting to build up buildings on his land so the government does not take it.
The bishop intends to build housing units for his workers, and build a medical clinic with the potential for mobile outreach health ministry. While he believes that prayer can heal, he also firmly embraces modern medicine and intends to bring it to the rural communities of his diocese.
The bishop’s wife spoke about women’s ministry and outreach to widows. The church intends to empower women in difficult circumstances, “showing the women they need to pray and it is only God who can help them to stand. We have widows who have no one to help them. Every widow in the diocese should come to the cathedral.”
There, they will find training, access to a job, and the support of Jesus Christ.
Despite these struggles — and the challenge of finding funding — the bishop still described radical Islam as “the most serious problem we have today.” While he asked PJ Media to keep him anonymous, he agreed to have his story shared in these pages.
Dioceses like his desperately need prayer and financial support, but the bishop insisted that his audience also wake up to the global threat of radical Islam.