Your letters have brought Martina comfort and encouragement following the death of her husband. Reverend Joseph Kura was killed by suspected Fulani militants on his farm in 2016. The letters are just one of many ways you have stood with Martina and her seven children – including the provision of a new home, which the family moved into during the summer.
You have stood with Martina and her seven children following the tragedy that rocked the family in 2016
Just days after the tragic killing of her husband by Fulani militants, Martina was sat with her seven children on the floor. Their eyes were red, swollen from crying; their whole world unravelled.
Present with them was Hanna, an Open Doors partner whose name we have changed for security reasons. Before meeting them, she asked God to make her visit fruitful and encouraging. “With every visit to deliver more letters of encouragement, and now with this dedication of her home, I can testify that God hears His children’s prayers and answers it in His perfect time,” Hanna explains.
Today, four years on from her husband’s death, Martina’s face is a picture of answered prayer. She is smiling and laughing. Your prayers, letters and cards of encouragement and financial support have made this possible. It’s brought fresh hope, not just Martina and her family, but a whole community of believers.
Since the death of her husband, Martina has lived in limbo with no place to call home. At first, she tried to return to southern Kaduna, where she and Joseph were from. “We had a house in Kaduna, but during one of the attacks the house was burnt down. That was the only place we had to call a home, but the Fulani destroyed it,” Martina shared during a previous visit.
She returned to Obi where her husband served as a pastor, only to find that the new pastor had already moved into the house, which is reserved for the current pastor. “We had nowhere to go, so our only solution was to move into an incomplete building,” she explains.
"These letters encouraged me to know that I am not alone." Martina
Martina worked hard to create a home for herself and the children. She shared an incomplete one-roomed home with her four daughters and rented a separate room for her three sons.
On a visit last year, Hanna brought the family a bagful of colourful letters and cards – much to Martina’s surprise. “And you have come with more letters for me!”
She continues, “These letters encouraged me to know that I am not alone. Anytime I am sad, or my heart is heavy, I pick up the letters and start reading and feel comforted. There are times I feel as if all my pain has disappeared. Indeed, the letters are a healing balm to me. I just want to say thank you to all who wrote these letters to me. May God continue to use you to heal others.”
Before leaving, Hanna had further good news that left Martina speechless. Open Doors partners would build the family a house. Martina began to cry. “Could this be true?”
Construction started in December 2019 and the house was completed in July 2020. Today the sturdy house, painted blue, has enough rooms for Martina and all her children. It serves as a wonderful reminder of God’s faithfulness, not only to Martina, but also the wider local Christian community which continues to suffer at the hands of militant groups.
“Everyone who saw the house acknowledged the fact that, if there is a man who prays, surely there is a God who hears,” Hanna explains.
In July, Open Doors partners travelled to pray and dedicate Martina’s house to God. It was a joyful occasion filled with songs of praise and tears of gratitude. Martina could not stop smiling and sang at the top of her voice, praising and thanking God for remembering her in her darkest nights.
“I had totally lost hope, I was filled with fear and bitterness,” she reflects. “I felt abandoned and rejected, but God has taken away all my sorrows and filled me with laughter and joy.”
"We never imagined we would have a home to call ours, but God has done it for us through Open Doors." Ebenezer, Martina's son
She continues, “At first, I thought I was dreaming, but today it has become a reality. God is the same yesterday, today and forever. Thank you, Open Doors, for being a family and a source of hope to my children and me. This house is a ministry that God has given to me, to encourage other widows to hold on to God and not lose hope. He who has used Open Doors to wipe my tears will do the same for them.”
For Ebenezer, Martina’s eldest son, the new home too was an answer to prayer. “When our father died, I began to think of how I would take care of my mum and younger siblings. But God gave me a message while having my quiet time: He said, ‘be still’."
He continues, "From that night on I left everything in His hands and kept praying with faith that one day we would have cause to celebrate. We never imagined we would have a home to call ours, but God has done it for us through Open Doors. May the Lord richly reward and bless everyone who contributed to give us hope once more.”
The family has also received support with school fees and setting up a small rice-selling business for Martina to sustain her family.
Reverend John, who took over from Martina’s husband, was equally overjoyed as he witnessed the dedication of Martina’s house.
“Today God has reminded us that He is God, He has fulfilled His promise never to leave nor forsake us,” he reflects. “When the building started, I asked Martina who is building this house? And she replied, ‘God sent me guardians. They didn’t know me, but after the death of my husband, they have been my new family.’”
It’s a thought that has inspired his wider ministry to the church. “It became a message I dwelt on for some time in church,” he explains. “Each time I preached, I encouraged my congregation to hold on – their miracle is on the way.”
"Each time I preached, I encouraged my congregation to hold on – their miracle is on the way." Reverend John
Reverend John serves a community of believers who are hard-pressed on almost every side. Many of his congregants are affected by the ongoing Fulani violence. There have been at least 3,507 Christian deaths at the hands of the Fulani since 2016 until June this year, devastating families and livelihoods.
There is still grief and great difficulty. But your support is a welcome source of light and hope.
Reverend John adds, “I am so happy because the faith of my congregation has greatly increased, and it is because of this answered prayer. May God bless Open Doors and their partners who are the agents of God’s work. He will do the same for each one of you.”
Your personal letters, cards and drawings have been a tremendous encouragement to Martina and other believers. And there are many more who would love to hear from you – their worldwide family.