Today is a good day for Pastor Sule Sunday. You have not only made his day, or week. No, you have made his whole year.
“Today I am overjoyed! Open Doors has responded to our plight! You can see people are just laughing and happy because we have never received this kind of support. This has not only solved our physical needs but also our spiritual needs! I kept hearing my people say, ‘God is alive! He has answered our prayers and brought help to us’. This support has indeed brought hope back to the hearts of the people of Naka.”
Persecuted Christians queue for aid (photo taken before coronavirus restrictions)
Targeted by Fulani militants
Pastor Sule Sunday ministers to people in Naka, a mostly Christian farming community situated in Benue State. It has always been a peaceful community. But things have changed in recent years. A toxic cocktail of climate change, politics and an Islamic expansionist agenda has increasingly brought militant Fulani herdsmen into the Middle Belt, often resulting in violence and destruction.
Hundreds of people were killed in a series of attacks last year, countless homes looted and destroyed and at least 12,580 people displaced, leaving many in desperation. These attacks have continued during the coronavirus lockdown – targeting Christians who have been isolating in their homes for protection.
“My community has experienced severe persecution from the Fulani herdsmen,” Sule explains. “We have lost houses, loved ones, our livelihoods, and our communities. It was a trying time for most of my church members.”
Sule was worried for his people, frustrated that there was so little he could do to protect them from attack and from hunger. “Some began to doubt that God listens and cares for us. There was severe hunger and difficulty in the land. We received some food, but it was so little that only a few families could be helped. What they got was finished in a week.”
Bringing hope to Naka
But thanks to your support, Open Doors partners were able to visit with relief aid to many people Naka.
Holding her baby on her lap, Veronica kept smiling and laughing. When we approached her, she said, “I want to thank Open Doors for their good gesture. Thank you for bringing this food to the people of Naka. We have never received anything like this before. God will bless you and provide in all your needs.”
Veronica and her baby (photo taken before coronavirus restrictions)
Amazingly, this happened just before Covid-19 lockdown. If the delivery had been scheduled for any later time, travel restrictions would have meant that Open Doors partners wouldn’t have been able to go to Naka.
Your gifts and prayers mean that 1,500 families received food for three months, and money to help them get back on their feet and on the path to self-reliance. Many of the people who received aid and money are widows, like those whose story you might have read on the Open Doors website or in the Open Doors magazine in March 2020. The delivery also included Bibles and Christian literature to help Pastor Sule and others minister to the believers. Open Doors’ contact in Naka has confirmed that the considerable provisions are enough to sustain the families in these uncertain times.
Volunteers helped unload the food and organise them into neat squares of 20x20 packs containing rice and beans, while hundreds of families waited eagerly. Once the distribution started, they each patiently awaited their turn – but as soon as they received their parcels, many women broke out in song and dance.
Ngohide 38, a mother of three said, “Thank you for this food that you gave us – we didn’t expect this kindness. I will go home and cook for my children; we will eat and forget our troubles. God bless you.”
“God bless you and thank you to all who contributed to bring hope back to our hearts!” says Sule.
- Join with Pastor Sule in praising God for the timing of the delivery
- That the community in Naka would be protected from further attacks
- For Pastor Sule and other church leaders caring for those experiencing trauma. May the Lord provide them with compassion and wisdom to comfort believers.