Sunday, March 14, 2010

Praying for Jos

I have talked about BSF before; it is a Bible study that I absolutely LOVE, one that I have had the privilege of being a part of for several years. I have never been a part of such an in-depth study, and I have grown so much through the study of God's Word through the tools that BSF provides. One of the really cool things about BSF is that there are classes around the world. So what I am studying in Dallas, TX is also being studied by brothers and sisters across the globe- from England to Malaysia, from Singapore to Australia, from Belize to the new classes in CHINA! It is such a blessing to see all that God is doing across the world through the study of His Word.

**Warning: This is not an easy post to read. I will try to be sensitive, but I do not want to censor the reality of the violence occurring in Nigeria. Some portions taken from national media reports, as well as firsthand reports from those in Jos. As one who claims to be a follower of Christ, I CANNOT ignore this and pretend that things like this don't happen in the world I live in. I CANNOT turn a blind eye and say I don't do so is a grievance against the heart of God and the love He has for His people.**

Recently, the classes in Jos, Nigeria have been heavy on my heart. Recently, we received word of the escalating violence in that region, and it has so escalated that the media has finally decided to make it a feature story. The bloodshed is a vicious expression of long-running hostilities between Christians and Muslims in this divided nation. Jos and the region around it are on the fault line where the volatile and poor Muslim north and the Christian south meet. In the past decade, some 3,000 people have been killed in interethnic, interreligious violence in this fraught zone. The pattern is familiar: uneasy coexistence suddenly explodes into killing, amplified for days by retaliation.

Growing religious hatred, political and ethnic rivalries, and increasing poverty have led to two outbursts of savage violence in recent months (one in January, another this month). Wielding machetes, knives and cutlasses, raiders have swept through three villages in Nigeria, cutting down anyone in their path. Innocent women and children have been slaughtered, their bodies later recovered from wells and sewage pits. Hundreds have died. Generations have been wiped out. Now, many people carry weapons and man impromptu road blocks, fearful of the military, the police and each other. The violence is coming from both sides- Muslims and (so-called) Christians...I cannot even imagine how much this grieves the heart of God.

BSF class members reported hearing the sounds of approaching gunfire. Thankfully, our class members and leaders have been safe, though many have family and friends directly affected by the violence. And yet despite the fighting and turmoil, classes are still being held! They are having to make adjustments because of the government-enforced curfew, but these men and women are committed to the study of God's Word. How humbling this is when many people here in the U.S. refuse to attend class because it's raining outside. It makes my heart sick; because I come up with lame excuses all the time. How much I take my religious freedom for granted in this country!

I cannot imagine a world of fear and violence. In our comfortable world, we have no idea the meaning of persecution for the sake of Christ. How immensely blessed we are that we can attend Bible study without the fear that we may not make it home that night. I can't help but cry over the situation that fellow brothers and sisters in Christ live as reality every day. How often do I think of God's Word only as an afterthought, simply because "I have better things to do," "I am too busy," or "I'll get to it later..." I am so humbled by these faithful ones who persevere through the fear and violence to meet in His name to study His Word.

Please pray for Jos, Nigeria. Pray for peace in the region, that the fighting will stop. Pray for the physical protection of the BSF area team, leaders, and class members. Pray that Christians can be a testimony of God's love to their hurting neighbors.


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