Leaders of Ekklesiyar Yan’uwa a Nigeria (EYN–the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria) are reaching out to American Brethren for prayer and Christian support following an attack by gunmen who killed an EYN pastor and 10 church members.
“We would like you to continue to pray for the church of God in Nigeria,” said an e-mail from EYN leadership, received by the Church of the Brethren’s Global Mission and Service office over the weekend.
On Dec. 1, gunmen attacked the EYN Kwaple Church in the denomination’s Chibok district, killing pastor Michael Peter Yakwa and 10 members of the congregation. Although the identity of the gunmen is unknown, EYN leaders suspect they are part of Boko Haram, an extremist Islamist sect that has carried out numerous terrorist attacks in northern Nigeria in recent years targeting churches as well as mosques and government facilities.
The e-mail from EYN leadership reported that Pastor Yakwa was Bura by ethnicity, hailing from Billa. His father also is an EYN pastor, currently serving the EYN Dayer Church in the denomination’s Billa district.
EYN leadership concluded the e-mail by writing, “continue to pray for one another in this perilous time.”
A number of other attacks also were carried out over the weekend in Nigeria, according to media reports, including attacks on three other churches and border posts near the border with Cameroon, in which the churches were set on fire, and an attack by gunmen on a bar in the area of Jos, in which 10 people died and more were injured. “Violence linked to the Boko Haram insurgency in northern and central Nigeria is believed to have left some 3,000 people dead since 2009, including killings by the (Nigerian government) security forces,” reports AllAfrica.com .
In related news, EYN president Samuel Dali and his wife Rebecca have returned home safely after traveling to the United States for the recent Mission Alive conference, reports mission executive Jay Wittmeyer. Dali had told the conference, “Every church in Nigeria is thinking about self-defense. How does the Church of the Brethren preach peace in this situation? Sometimes we are mocked when we talk about peace. But hope is not lost. Even during the time of missionaries it was not easy. But still they came up with a strategy to make sure the gospel was shared. So a difficult situation cannot stop the word of God. But it’s not going to be easy. We value your prayers, and we invite you to continue to pray. We invite you to come to Nigeria and experience what is happening.” (A report from the conference is at www.brethren.org/news/2012/conference-calls-brethren-to-mission.html .)