Loving the Enemy
Confronting Violence in Nigeria with Christ’s Love
by Langham Scholar Philip Tachin
Can you comfortably sit in the same car with someone that you think is an enemy? Would it be God’s plan for you to sometimes sit together or help such a person in some way? On July 26, we woke up in Nigeria with the news of burning down of three churches and killing of over 100 people in Maiduguri. There is violence also in the states of Bauchi and Yobe, all by Muslims. Bauchi is bordering our state so there is tension in the city of Jos. These Muslims came out in large numbers protesting against Western and what they call secular education in their sharia states. The implication of this is that only Islamic education should be taught in all their institutions of learning. I discussed this situation with my students in the class.
And as soon as I finished teaching my two classes and was driving slowly to the city, I started pondering over this notorious Muslim violence in Nigeria. Then on my way, someone, an aged person dressed like a Muslim waved me to stop and give him a ride. Indeed, he was a Muslim. I did not stop. I passed by appearing as if I did not notice his presence by the roadside. As I drove off my heart would not allow me ignore the need of this Muslim just because he is a Muslim. The Lord convicted me of my own sin of resentment and anger against Muslims. I needed to show him the love that he does not deserve, the love of Christ that makes Christ to be the unique Savior of the world.
I went a short distance and then decided to reverse my car and come back to where he was standing. I asked him in Hausa language where he was going and he told me that his house was down along the road. I picked him up and as we moved on, he asked me how the day was for me. I told him that the day makes me sad because Muslims are killing Christians and yet we are one people in one nation. That opened a dialogue between us and he confessed that he was truly against all these violent occurrences. He told me that he was the elder brother of the governor in Bauchi where there was violence and that he has always told them to eschew violence. We had a lengthy discussion which consequently developed into friendship. I let him out in front of his house, and he told me to come back another day for further discussion. Is the Lord opening a way for the Gospel? I believe so. Our discussion removed the heavy burden of resentment against the Muslims, and I found joy that I have an opportunity to present the gracious life of Christ to this old man.
It is humanly difficult to love our enemy, especially the Muslims, but the Spirit says we do. So we comply. Please pray that the Lord would turn this man to himself through my further interaction with him. I would like to show him the undeserving love of Christ who died on the cross even for Muslims. I intend that if he is saved unto Christ, then through him I can also reach out to other Muslims in the city of Jos.
An update on the violence in Nigeria:
The religious crisis that erupted early this week has serious consequences for national security. This group of extremists that calls itself Talibans or Boko Haram sect in Nigeria led by Muhammad Yusuf has many hiding places some of which have been discovered. The security forces have been battling them with good success. Many of them have been killed in Borno, Kano, Bauchi and Yobe states, while many of them have been arrested in different places in Northern Nigeria. The casualties are higher in Maiduguri, the Borno state capital. Various arms and ammunitions have also been recovered from them. There is tension in most of the northern states. Security forces have also discovered one of their schools in Taraba state that is called Alfurqan Islamic School, and this school is linked with Al Qaida. Their main agenda at this point is opposition to Western education which they say is sinful. They oppose teaching of English language. This is a school that has no legal rights to operate under the Nigerian law. A government official who visited the school said that it school doesn’t have a timetable or the subjects that are taught. All the northern states have now beefed up security surveillance and there are several roadblocks in some cities.
Though the northern governors are officially fighting this evil, it is difficult to separate some Muslim politicians and clerics from this development. This development is one among many that have been happening in Nigeria which Christians and other non-Muslims have been victims. In 1999 when the then Zamfara state Governor, Ahmed Sani Yerima came to power, he championed the “Islamization” of Northern Nigeria officially through the introduction and implementation of the Sharia legal code. This sparked a lot of violence in which many Christians lost their lives and property destroyed. Some Muslims may disassociate themselves from this phenomenon; it is nevertheless their own agenda. This agenda that targets against Western education is a subtle attack on Christianity, because they don’t separate Christianity and the West. Christianity and Western education are related, so it is clearly an agenda against Christians in Nigeria. If Western education is out, then it can only be replaced by the Arabic education which is a strategic way of Islamizing Nigeria or at least the North.
Please keep our brothers and sisters in Nigeria in your prayers as they rely on God’s strength in these troubled times.
Read more about Philip Tachin’s homecoming celebration