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Nigeria: 'Desperation matched by determination' as families return home

17 March 2017

'Desperation matched by determination' as families return home

In Adamawa state, some displaced families have begun to return to their homes as the Nigerian army have pushed back Boko Haram.

Returning is difficult. It's not always safe, as Boko Haram still carry out sporadic attacks, even if they can no longer take and hold ground in the same way as before. The militants destroyed not only homes, but entire communities - they burned churches, schools, libraries and health centres, and polluted wells by dumping corpses in them. Farms have been deserted, meaning it will take time before people will be able to produce their own food again.

However, Isaac*, an Open Doors worker who is providing support to the returning Christians, writes, "The desperation seems to be matched by determination. These Christians refuse to let the challenges stop them from taking back their homes.

"They are rebuilding houses with materials like corn stalks, wood and grasses or mud. It is a far cry from the more permanent structures Boko Haram destroyed, but it is a roof over their heads that offers protection against the elements.

"Church activities have resumed despite the fact that there is very little left of their buildings. It was a privilege to spend time in prayer with men in a small church recently rebuilt.

"But there are many congregations that don't have the resources and have to make other plans. They gather under trees, or use whatever's left of their buildings. In one place I walked around a church that was little more than a skeleton, with no roof and no walls. But believers placed anything remotely resembling seating on the ground so that they could continue services without having to sit in the dirt.

"As far as I went, I witnessed Christians working hard to reclaim their homes. They expressed a desire to respond in faith and trust God for His timely provision in their daily needs, in comfort and in grace to face this new phase of their lives. They need our prayer and support as they make sure that the extremists fail in their effort to remove them permanently from this area."

The support and prayers of people like you have enabled Open Doors workers to provide vital relief aid to 2,000 people in communities like these in Adamawa state, as well as looking at how to best support these returning families long term.

The leader of our Nigeria team says, "The next few months of mapping the circumstances of returnees and determining the most pressing needs for the short and long term are very important for us. We are careful to avoid duplicating the work done by others, including the government, but rather seek to compliment those efforts.

"The situation of returnees is very fluid, so we need a lot of prayer for wisdom. We really appreciate your prayer for our team on the ground."

*name changed for security reasons

STAND WITH YOUR CHURCH FAMILY IN SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA

Here are three ways you can stand with your church family in sub-Saharan Africa:

Please pray:

  • For protection, provision, and strength for these families as they return home and begin to rebuild their lives
  • For wisdom for Open Doors workers to know how to best support our church family in Nigeria long term.

More News from Nigeria:

Find out more about persecution in Nigeria.