A reverend and a senior member of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), abducted by the Boko Haram Islamist terrorists has appealed for help to secure his release in a video message.
The Rev. Lawan Andimi was abducted by terrorists of the Islamic State’s West Africa Province (ISWAP, known as Boko Haram before affiliating with the Islamic State) on Thursday (Jan. 2) in attacks on Michika County and a nearby area in northeast Nigeria’s Adamawa state, sources said.
On the evening of Thursday, 2nd January, 2020 while people were still celebrating the new year, there was a sudden appearance of a convoy of trucks with armed men, some of them disguised in Military fatigue invading the town. With the first volleys of gunshots, the town broke into a bedlam of sorts with people running for their lives. The invading forces combed the town for several hours, pillaging for foodstuff and valuables. The Military reportedly reinforced, engaged the marauders in fierce gun battle, forcing them to flee.
In addition to abducting the pastor,the terrorists ransacked the town for food and valuables. During the raid, the pastor was seen being forced into a pickup truck.
In the footage released by the Shekau faction of terrorist group, Boko Haram, he speaks about his continued faith in God despite his ordeal, saying that he is not discouraged “because all conditions [in which one] finds himself is in the hands of God”.
Mr. Andimi, in the little over six minutes of recorded video spoke in Hausa and English. He wore an overall sport tracksuit, grey of color, with a bold orange line running across the chest. He commended his captors for treating him humanly, providing him with blanket cover, decent beddings and good food. He requested his colleagues in CAN as well as his family members not to be distraught nor to sorrow since God’s will must be respected in all of their lives. He declared that if its pleased God that he be released, he would be out but if God decides not to get him out that his wife should be patient and they should look after his children.
CAN CHAIRMAN, ABDUCTED, CRIES OUT FROM BOKO HARAM CAMP— Ahmad Salkida (@A_Salkida) January 5, 2020
In a short recorded video Rev. Andimi declared that if its pleased God that he be released, he would be out, but if God decides not to get him out that they should look after his children. https://t.co/UHJKJVPVPJ pic.twitter.com/idbOlQRWYY
However, he asks his colleagues at CAN and the president of the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria, Rev Joel Billy, to petition Adamawa state governor Ahmadu Umoru Fintri about his release.
He later speaks of his confidence in being able to return to his wife and family, and his colleagues at CAN “by the grace of God”, although he adds that he is ready to accept that “maybe it is the will of God” if this does not happen.
He concludes by telling his friends and family not to worry.
“Don’t cry, don’t worry, but thank God for everything,” he said.
The video was sent to Nigerian journalist and Boko Haram expert Ahmed Salkida.
Christian Solidarity Worldwide Chief Executive Mervyn Thomas said: “We are deeply concerned by Pastor Andimi’s abduction and call for his unconditional release. We echo his plea for Governor Ahmadu Umoru Fintri and any other officials with influence to intervene to secure the release of this courageous man.”
The pastor’s abduction is part of a wave of violence targeting Christians over Christmas. On December 22, attackers boarded two passenger buses in Borno state and killed three men, including a pastor from Deeper Life Bible Church. The pastor’s relative and two humanitarian workers were abducted.
Last month, the U.S. State Department listed Nigeria on its “special watch list,” designating it among countries that have “severe violations of religious freedom” because of the Nigerian government’s inability to thwart an increase in violence and abductions carried out in various areas of the country.
“We are designating [Nigeria] special watch list for the first time because of all of the increasing violence and communal activity and the lack of effective government response and the lack of judicial cases being brought forward in that country,” U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback told reporters in December.
“It is a dangerous situation in too many parts of Nigeria. The government has either not been willing to or have been ineffective in their response and the violence continues to grow.”
The U.K.-based nongovernmental organization Humanitarian Aid Relief Trust issued a report in November claiming that at least 1,000 Christians were killed by Fulani and Boko Haram extremists in 2019 while as many as 6,000 have been killed since 2015.
Would you pray for Christians living in Nigeria? Please pray they will receive peace and comfort, and that one day they’ll be able to practice their faith openly without fear of death.
Nigeria ranks as the 12th-worst country in the world when it comes to Christian persecution, according to Open Doors USA’s 2019 World Watch List.