Nigerian Brethren experience another church attack, hold annual meeting


Church of the Brethren Newsline
April 17, 2013

Jesus bears the cross in Nigeria - a crowd watches a dramatic re-enactment of the Easter story
Photo by Carol Smith
Jesus bears the cross in Nigeria. At a recent Easter celebration at the headquarters of Ekklesiyar Yan'uwa a Nigeria, a crowd watches a dramatic re-enactment of Jesus' crucifixion and resurrection. This photo was provided by Carol Smith, one of three American Brethren who are serving with EYN in Nigeria.

Another Nigerian Brethren congregation has suffered an attack during worship, shortly before leaders of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN--the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) are to gather for the Majalisa or general church council, equivalent to the Annual Conference of the US church.

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EYN’s 66th Majalisa is scheduled for April 16-19 on the theme, “Reclaiming Our Heritage as Peace Church in Such a Time Like This.”

Attack on EYN congregation

On Sunday, April 7, gunmen suspected to be part of the radical Islamist group called Boko Haram attempted an attack on an EYN congregation in the city of Maiduguri in the northeast of Nigeria. The attack came while the congregation was in worship, and a Nigerian television station reporting the incident noted, “Today’s incident marks the first time that an attack will be launched on a church in the Maiduguri metropolis in broad daylight during Sunday service since the Boko Haram insurgence heightened in the area.”
 
Worshipers told the TV stations that about five gunmen opened fire into the church, during the sermon, but that soldiers who were stationed at a post in front of the church immediately repelled the attack. One soldier was hit by a bullet but was treated and discharged from hospital, the TV station reported.

Since that attack, others have followed reports an EYN leader by e-mail. In one incident last week 16 people were killed in an area of Adamawa State, with six more injured--and a majority of those affected were members of EYN, the report said. On April 8, one person was shot dead in Gwoza following the attack on a Christian district head in that area of Borno State, and in another incident a group of Christians playing cards near the Gwoza general hospital were shot and killed.

Majalisa to be on theme of peace

Church of the Brethren general secretary Stan Noffsinger has sent a letter to EYN general secretary Jinatu Wamdeo and to the Nigerian Brethren as they gather for their annual meeting this week. Noffsinger was to have spoken at the Majalisa, but canceled his trip to Nigeria out of concern for the added burden and expense to the Nigerian church for the extra security that would have been required for his public presence at the event.

Noffsinger’s letter expressed his regrets and the continued concern of American Brethren for “the safety and wellbeing of the members of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria.... We can hardly imagine the struggle you are living with as a people committed to Christ’s witness of nonviolence,” he wrote. “Your witness of Christ’s peace to the US Church of the Brethren has been profound in ways that move our hearts deeply toward our Lord.... You are known and will be known globally as a people who are Living Stones of Christ’s Peace.
 
“I will be ceaseless in praying for you and the General Council in the coming days,” Noffsinger wrote. “May the 66th General Council gathering in Christ’s name, be a witness of the Christ light in Nigeria.”
 
“We are encouraged by your words of love, concern, and commitment,” wrote Wamdeo in response. “We are grateful for your prayers which we believe sustain us in the midst of persecution. The lost peace could not be found unless we keep talking to our Lord Jesus Christ the Prince of Peace. Indeed we are together in good or in bad situation. We will continue praying for peace in the entire world.... Extend our gratitude to all Brethren whom we know are in deep concern for us. Thank you very much for your commitments and ceaseless prayers for Nigeria.”

Find the full report on the attack on the EYN congregation from Channels Television at www.channelstv.com/home/2013/04/07/gunmen-storm-church-during-service-in-maiduguri/

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