Nigeria: The church of the brothers and sisters paves its way

Christian homes destroyed by Boko Haram in northeastern Nigeria. Photo: Mathias Waldmeyer

Since 2009, the Islamist terrorist militia Boko Haram has been sweeping northeastern Nigeria with a wave of violence. The EYN church has been particularly affected. Many of its members were displaced or fell victim to attacks by Boko Haram. In 2016, the church was finally able to return to its headquarters in the town of Kwarhi, where its headquarters had been destroyed by Boko Haram several years ago. Its members are also returning home and have to rebuild their lives.

A wounded healer

"Boko Haram does not succeed in destroying our church!" Dr. Yakubu Joseph is pleased. On the contrary, the EYN has even grown in the past year, with new congregations springing up in four districts. Yakubu Joseph sees this as a silver lining on the horizon. He describes the EYN as a "wounded healer": Although the church members have been severely affected by the conflict, they are enormously committed to humanitarian aid.

The fruits of this commitment can be seen, for example, in the Shuwari Camp for displaced persons run by EYN. There, EYN successfully runs an emergency aid and training program supported by Mission 21. Yakubu Joseph noticed great changes during his recent visit to Shuwari: "The refugee women have regained their self-confidence. I saw it in their posture, their look, even in their clothes." Yakubu Joseph draws courage from the incredible strength of these women: "They told me that God never left them in their worst experiences. They know that God is always with them." Yakubu Joseph urgently needs this courage, because the supply situation in Shuwari is not secure. Hunger is still one of the big problems.

A life in fear

Boko Haram has not been defeated. Yakubu Joseph constantly has to reckon with attacks when he visits the projects of Mission 21. Just recently, another village was attacked near the EYN headquarters. But it is not only Boko Haram that makes life in Nigeria dangerous and unpredictable. Conflict between nomadic Fulani herders and farmers has spread from central Nigeria across the country. Organized crime is also rampant, specifically gang violence. "When I get into a car, I first lock all the doors, then immediately check in the rearview mirror to see if anyone is approaching," Yakubu Joseph tells us. This is because the danger of kidnapping with subsequent ransom extortion is omnipresent. 

Successful peace initiative

Thanks to his faith, Yakubu Joseph knows that there is hope for peace. For him, a sign of this is the flourishing EYN. Another success is the great popularity of a Christian-Muslim peace initiative supported by Mission 21. In peace clubs at secondary schools, young people learn to help shape a more peaceful world and fight religious segregation. In 2018, women inspired by this founded the first peace club of their own. As peace ambassadors, they aim to mediate conflicts in their communities and families. Yakubu Joseph will accompany them and tell us about it.


Support Dr. Yakubu Joseph and the Mission 21's peace work in Nigeria.

Text: Eva Sidler

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