By Vinny Sepe
If someone were to approach you on campus and ask you what religion you attested to, it’s safe to speculate that all Corban students would claim to be a Christian. After all, every one of us had to give a statement declaring a saving relationship with Jesus Christ to receive admission.
Yet for the 30 or so Christians who were slaughtered Oct. 1 at the Federal Polytechnic College in Northeastern Nigeria, this simple proclamation was the last thing they said before being viciously murdered, reported multiple news outlets.
According to the Christian Post, the alleged killers were members of the Boko Haram, a radical Islamic group known to commit such atrocities. After entering a college housing area, the gunmen worked on segregating the Christian and Muslim students. Once the distinction was clear, the people in the Christian group were murdered.
While shocking, Americans are beginning to become accustomed to such tragedies.
“It doesn’t really surprise me. Africa is a wonderful continent, but there are so many conflicting ethnic and religious groups,” said Corban student Carlton Parrish.
The Boko Haram, group responsible for this massacre, is a radical group of Muslims based in Northeastern Nigeria. The disturbing trait of the Boko Haram is “how willing they are to kill,” said professor Annette Harrison.
The Boko Haram’s misinterpretation of Islamic doctrine has inspired the group to resort to war.
“They are seeking to control the world. They are not seeking to coexist, but have a sacred commitment to wipe out all infidels,” said Professor Paul Johnson.
It is important to understand that such acts of terror are not condoned by the orthodox Islam religion. Therefore, we need to be careful not to connect this event and such acts to the teachings of Islam.
“Boko Haram is a small group that doesn’t represent all Muslims,” added Harrison.
Regardless, the problem in Nigeria isn’t going to go away by itself. In a region where religious violence has persisted for a very long time, what can modern day Christians in America do to assist the persecuted Nigerian Christians?
First, understand the situation, which is easier said than done.
“It’s a good example of a complex issue; an issue of politics, money pertaining to the oil industry, and religion,” explained Harrison.
Exploring the cultural dynamic of Nigeria would require a textbook. The important thing to understand is that this is a really big, complex issue. The good news, however, is that we serve an even bigger God whose complexity transcends all understanding. Therefore, the number one way to get involved is to pray.
Harrison offered a number of ways to pray for the crisis. One was to “Pray for wisdom for the Nigerian Christians so they know how to respond. The human tendency is to seek justice and fight back, but that is not something Christ would do.”
Praying for the government is also important. The Nigerian government is democratic and has elected officials, many of which have been evangelical Christians.
“Pray for the government leaders; that they will govern fairly,” said Harrison.
Tragedies like this one are undeniably devastating. For there to be peace in Nigeria, it will take the hand of God. Yet through prayer, Christians in America and in Nigeria can be assured in this unsettled time by the promise of Philippians 4:6-7: “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”