Thanks to your prayers and gifts, local Open Doors partners have been able to distribute over 130 Bibles to young people in Nigeria to help them continue to grow and mature in their faith. 

These Bibles will help to strengthen the next generation of Christians and church leaders

Do you remember when you got your first Bible? For many of these young people in Nigeria, this is the first time they’ve received a Bible to call their own.  

Earlier this year, Open Doors partners handed out more than 130 Bibles to young men and women in northern Nigeria to support and encourage them in their discipleship journey. This encouragement is vital as these young believers experience both marginalisation and violence on a daily basis because of their faith in Jesus Christ. They are the minority in their communities, yet they continue to demonstrate resilience in the midst of increasing persecution. As a result, many around them have come to faith! 

Dorcas: “Being rooted in God’s Word is the best way to live” 

Dorcas is one of the young women who received a Bible. She says, “I am so happy to have a new Bible that I can call my own! To me, this Bible is a weapon to overcome and win the battle in life. I believe the Bible will be of great impact in my spiritual journey because it is the foundation on which we should build our lives. Knowing God for yourself and being rooted in God’s Word will be the best way of living in this world. 

“I pray for everyone that contributed in one way or the other for the Bible to reach me and other people in my community,” she adds. “I will share it with people who don’t have a Bible and win souls for Christ so that the name of Jesus will be glorified.”  

Please pray for Dorcas as she searches for a job – and that many will see Christ’s light in her and be drawn to Jesus. 

Matthew: “The Bible will help and change a lot in my life” 

Before receiving his own Bible, Matthew shared one Bible with the rest of his family. But now he will be able to spend time in God’s Word whenever he likes. “For to have my own Bible… I am so grateful to God,” he says. “The Bible will help and change a lot in my life, especially in my spiritual journey. I trust that reading the Bible and obeying the instruction of God will bring a lot of changes in my life because the Word of God is light.” 

Matthew, who’s in his twenties, shared his favourite Bible verse – John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” 

He is grateful to Open Doors supporters for supporting him in his walk with Jesus. “May God open more doors for growth and to reach out to more people in need.” 

Please pray for Matthew, that he will become deeply rooted in God. 

Rashida: “I am filled with joy because I’ve received a Bible” 

For Rashida, a young woman in her twenties, receiving this Bible is an answer to prayer. “Whenever I see a Bible around, I will just start reading it because I love reading the Bible, even though I didn’t have my own Bible,” she shares. “But now I am filled with joy because I received the gift of the Bible. I believe it will enlighten me on so many things that I was doing in the past that are not God’s will. I have the Word now and I can read it for myself.” 

Please pray that God will bless Rashida, and that she will have the strength to be salt and light in her community. 

Please keep praying for our Nigerian sisters and brothers

Thank you so much for your prayers and support for these young men and women in Nigeria, which is number six on the World Watch List. Increasing levels of violence largely affect the north of the country, but it’s spreading south. More Christians are killed for their faith in Nigeria than in the rest of the world combined – 14 every day, on average. These Bibles will help to strengthen the next generation of Christians and church leaders. 

Every day, on average, 14 Christians in Nigeria are killed for their faith. Can you stand up to violent persecution by raising awareness of this shocking fact?

Every day, on average, 14 Christians in Nigeria are killed for their faith. It’s a shocking statistic, but these atrocities seldom get reported in the media. Even the church around the world often doesn’t know the extent of the persecution faced by our brothers and sisters in Nigeria. More Christians are killed for their faith in Nigeria than the rest of the world combined.

Raise awareness on social media

The church in Nigeria is asking for people to pay attention. And you can answer that call – with the #14EveryDay social media campaign. We’re asking you to share a photo or video of yourself holding the hashtag #14EveryDay – spreading awareness, raising prayer and standing up to violent persecution with our brothers and sisters. Why not get your friends, family, followers and church involved?

You can be inventive with how you share – we’ve suggested something you can say, or words you can put in a caption, but it’s up to you how you spread the sad news about our Nigerian family.

Thank you for standing up to violent persecution in Nigeria, and across sub-Saharan Africa, with our persecuted brothers and sisters.

What you can say

Today, 14 Nigerians will be killed for being Christians.

If 14 of your family were killed in one day, it would likely be headline news. That’s what’s happening, on average, every day to our church family in Nigeria. These atrocities seldom get reported. We need to tell our churches, tell our friends, tell everyone.

Nigeria is an epicentre of escalating extremist violence. We need to stand up to violent persecution today with our brothers and sisters.

Use the hashtag #14EveryDay, tag @opendoorsuk and share your #14EveryDay image.

Violent persecution is escalating across sub-Saharan Africa – but you haven’t abandoned your brothers and sisters there. Here are three stories of how your gifts and prayers are transforming lives in countries where Christians face increasing danger for choosing to follow Jesus. Thank you for standing up to violent persecution – please keep supporting believers like Apevia, Blessing, Lydia and Zeinabou.

Your gifts and prayers are helping Christians stand up to violent persecution

Togo: You helped Apevia when her husband rejected her

Apevia in Togo grew up following an animist religion. That all began to change in 2014 when she heard a Christian radio programme. After a while, Apevia chose to follow Jesus – and later she started attending a local evangelical church in secret. “From time to time, I would hide and go to church for prayers, especially at night,” she says.

could mean a believer displaced by persecution receives food, medicine and other emergency relief to help them survive.

At first, Apevia’s husband didn’t seem to mind that she wasn’t willing to take part in animist rituals anymore. He had always been kind to her, including supporting her when she opened a dressmaking and tailoring business. But that all changed when he discovered that she was secretly going to church.

“He chased me away from his house with our three children,” Apevia says. “He said he didn’t want to have a Christian woman in his house and he didn’t want to see his children become Christians.”

For a few years, Apevia lived with her father – he was also an animist, but he was more tolerant of her new faith. But after he died, and Apevia’s brother became the head of the family, she was in danger. Last year, he beat Apevia and her 18-year-old daughter and forced them out of the house.

“We live in peace today because of your help.”


Apevia moved in with a friend. A few months later, she received a call from her husband. “He called us to make it clear that he would never take care of us as long as we followed Jesus,” she remembers. “He no longer took care of our basic needs. He refused to pay our daughter’s school fees because we would not abandon Jesus.”

Thanks to your gifts and prayers, Open Doors local partners were able to contact Apevia and support her with a microloan to start a new business, as well as financial support to buy food, rent a house and pay her daughter’s school fees.

“We live in peace today because of your help,” says Apevia. “I also have work and by the grace of God, we have what we need to survive. We peacefully continue to worship the Lord. Thank you very much for your support.”

She continues: “My beloved ones in Christ, I would like to say thank you for the grace you have shown me and my family. God bless you and return it to you too. As you have remembered me, God will remember you too. Thank you, thank you, thank you!”

Nigeria: After Blessing’s husband was killed, you supported her

Earlier this year, Fulani militants murdered Blessing’s husband. They lived in Kaduna State, one of many regions in Nigeria that have seen escalating violent persecution. Their marriage hadn’t been entirely easy – Blessing wasn’t accepted by her in-laws, and two of their five children sadly died in infancy. But Blessing was still very happy with her husband: “My husband showed me so much love,” she shares. “He was my everything, and he was so good to me.”

Every £42 could give hope and healing at a trauma centre to three Christians who have experienced extreme violence.

On 14 March 2023, Blessing’s husband went to the market for food. On his way home, he was ambushed and killed by Fulani militants. They had just attacked another nearby village. Blessing went with some men to search for her husband the next day, and found his body.

“Since my husband’s death, my life has been emptied of joy and peace,” Blessing says. “He provided for me the best he could. I am so grateful because he made me happy. After his death, I was left with nobody to take care of me or my children – I am now left with three boys aged 15, seven and two to care for.” Blessing’s in-laws have refused to help her.

Blessing was desperate for help – and she found it at the trauma care centre run by Open Doors partners. Her pain has been transformed through the trauma counselling programme, particularly the encouragement and unity she is receiving from the Open Doors partners.

“This programme has brought joy to my heart. I am very grateful.”


“I had not been able to get anyone to talk to and share the burden in my heart with, and I have been living with deep heart wounds,” she says. “However, when I came here, I found people who were willing to listen and pray with me. I am very happy. Even though I still feel the pain, I feel more relieved now.”

She adds: “This programme has brought joy to my heart. I have experienced a lot of hardship and pain in this life, but I have learned that God knows about my pain, and I am not alone. I am very grateful.”

Niger: Persecution survival training for courageous believers

“I am really pained with what is happening in Niger. Everyone has the right to practise his religion, but we Christians face persecution for following Christ,” says Lydia, a believer from the Maradi region. “In one way or the other, the Muslims treat us as second-class citizens in our country.”

“Jesus is with me, and He will never let me down. Thank you very much for this training.”


Like most parts of Niger, Maradi is mostly Muslim. The minority Christian population often faces persecution, discrimination and marginalisation. In many parts of the region, there are smear campaigns against Christians and the church. Elsewhere, Muslims use economic incentives to try and entice Christians into denying their faith.

One of the things enraging the Fulani Muslim population is the growing number of Fulani men and women who are encountering Jesus and choosing to become Christians. “Seeing that many Fulanis are coming to Christ, the Muslim community has risen and challenged their fellow Muslims in Niger to stop Christians from evangelising,” says a local source.

As the situation has become more hostile for Christians, Open Doors local partners organised persecution survival training for Fulani converts.

“Thanks to this training, my eyes are opened to how to respond to persecution,” says Lydia. “I now understand that these are the footsteps that Jesus Christ left for all those who believe in Him. Persecution is inevitable, but we must stand strong during persecution, and we should pray for our persecutors as Jesus commanded us in Luke 6:27-28.”

could give a month’s education to four young people from persecuted families to give them hope for the future.

Another participant, Zeinabou, adds: “I am blessed with the word of God; I have strategies to overcome the persecution. I never knew anything about persecution response, but now my eyes are open – I am more than victorious, I must overcome persecution, because Jesus is with me, and He will never let me down. Thank you very much for this training.”

Zeinabou and Lydia are among 120 vulnerable Christians who were able to attend these training sessions recently, helping them strengthen their faith, persevere through persecution and be salt and light in Niger.

Thank you for all you are doing to support persecuted believers in Nigeria, Niger, Togo and other countries in sub-Saharan Africa where Christians face increasing violence. You are making a difference to the worldwide body of Christ.

Mary (name changed) was a courageous young woman from Nigeria who boldly shared her faith with Fulani militants after they kidnapped her during a raid on her church. We are sad to report that, shortly after we received her interview, Mary passed away due to an unrelated illness. Mary’s family have told us that they wish for her story to be shared so that other young women like her will be seen and heard. 

This photo shows the real Mary, who knew the power of prayer: “I want the brothers and sisters around the world to help us and pray for Nigeria.”

Mary was only 20 years old when she was kidnapped from her village in northern Nigeria by Fulani militants. “We were having Sunday service, then we heard a gunshot,” she remembers. “Everybody started running. Some were falling down. They attack Christians because we worship Jesus and they want us out of this land.”

In the chaos, the gunmen killed several people, including Mary’s uncle. Mary was running away but heard her sister calling for her. “I didn’t know if I should turn back for her or keep running,” she says. She chose to run back for her sister, but one of the militants stopped her. He forced Mary and three other women to go with him. “They said if we didn’t go with them, they’d kill us.”

Sharing Jesus with her captors 

Mary and three other women were held in the camp for 54 days. During that time, they were forced to cook for the militants – but were given animal food to eat themselves. They also suffered repeated sexual violence at the hands of their captors. But despite her situation, she could feel God’s presence: “I don’t know where it came from – God gave me this strength and boldness.” 

The militants demanded a ransom for the safe return of the women to their homes – but it was a huge amount that the villagers couldn’t afford. It’s a tactic used to destroy the futures of young people like Mary. If a ransom is paid, there’s no longer any money available for schooling. Without the hope of a future, it can be difficult for a young person to stand firm in their faith. 

The strength of Mary’s faith and her faithfulness in prayer even led her to share the gospel with some of the militants in the camp. She felt compelled to ask them: “Do you really not know that what you are doing is wrong?” Apparently, nobody had ever asked the question before. “They said yes, they know that it is wrong, but there is no way they can stop it. I said there is a way you can stop it. If you give your life to Jesus, He will forgive you – and you can stop all these things you are doing.”

Although they weren’t receptive, she sowed the seeds of hope for redemption.

Mary’s family eventually raised the money to release her. She returned home burdened with the trauma of her experiences: “Every night, I had dreams of what happened to me in that place. I didn’t have peace of mind. I couldn’t be around people. The pain wouldn’t end.” 

“I came to this place to heal. It has really helped my life. I can’t thank God enough… I really appreciate God for the people He used.”


Finding peace through trauma care 

That’s when, thanks to your prayers and gifts, Open Doors local partners stepped in with support at the trauma care centre. Mary was able to spend time with trauma counsellors, who helped explain what trauma was and how to respond biblically, helping Mary understand her true identity as God’s loved daughter. 

“I came to this place to heal,” says Mary. “It has really helped my life. I can’t thank God enough – for the peace He brings into my life. I really appreciate God for the people He used.” Open Doors partners also helped Mary and her family with emergency relief to pay for necessities and helped to pay for Mary’s schooling. 

“Help us and pray for Nigeria”

Mary knew the power of prayer – and asks for us to pray for her and all Christians in Nigeria. “I know it is fulfilment of the Bible – He said, because we are His children, that the world will persecute us,” she says. “The world will deny us because we are not of the world. We are of heaven. We are the children of God. That is why the world is persecuting us.

“We are facing many problems, many challenges in our daily lives. I want the brothers and sisters around the world to help us and pray for Nigeria, that the Lord will intervene and let His peace rain upon this earth.”

This month, Leah Sharibu from Nigeria turns 20. Her teenage years were spent mostly in captivity after bravely refusing to renounce Jesus. We caught up with her mother, Rebecca, to find out how she and husband are doing as they hold onto the hope that they’ll one day be reunited with their daughter.

“My request morning and night is that you keep praying for Leah, as you have been doing in the past,” asks her mother, Rebecca

Shortly after being kidnapped by Islamic militants from their school in February 2018, more than 100 girls were gathered by their captors and asked, “Who is a Christian?” 

One girl courageously put up her hand. Her name is Leah Sharibu. 

“We rebuked her and said that we are all Muslims,” reported the girls afterwards. “But she refused. She raised her hand and said she is a Christian. They [the militant group Islamic State West African Province, or ISWAP] said, since she is a Christian, she must denounce Christ and accept Islam before she could enter the van. She refused and said she is a Christian and she would not accept Islam.”

It was an extraordinarily brave thing to do, because whilst all other girls were released a month after being taken, Leah remained held – as she has ever since. 

The girls return – but not Leah

When she was first taken from the Government Girls Science Technical College in the town of Dapchi in northern Nigeria’s Yobe State, Leah was 14 years old. Her birthday is 14 May and this year she turns 20. She becomes an adult having had most of her teenage years cruelly robbed from her. 

“She refused and said she is a Christian and she would not accept Islam”


For Leah’s mother and father, Rebecca and Nathan, the heartache continues each day. Leah’s story is no longer in the headlines, though many Open Doors supporters are faithfully praying for Leah and her family. Earlier this year, Open Doors local partners visited Rebecca and Nathan in Dapchi to encourage them and pray with the family, and to let them know that Open Doors supporters worldwide continue to pray for them.

For Rebecca, the moment she heard that her daughter was not among those released is etched into her memory. “When all the parents ran to the school to see their daughters, I was told Leah is not among them. Leah was not returned. I asked the girls that came back, ‘How come Leah is not back?’” 

Courageous but costly faith

It was then that Rebecca and Nathan were told of their daughter’s courageous faith – and what it had cost her.

“Since you will not accept Islam, you will be left here [as a prisoner],” the militants said to Leah, to which she defiantly replied: “I will not accept Islam because I am not a Muslim. I will remain here.” The girls told Rebecca that, after her declaration of faith, Leah was crying. “We were all crying as they put us in the van and left,” said one of Leah’s classmates. 

Every £42 could give hope and healing at a trauma centre to three Christians who have experienced extreme violence.

Two months later, ISWAP released a video in which Leah begged for the government’s help and asked the public to ‘help my mother, father, my younger brother and relatives’. Two weeks later, the militant group warned that they would kill Leah, 15 at the time, if their demands were not met. After the deadline, ISWAP released another video saying that Leah would be their ‘slave for life’.

While there are frequent rumours about Leah’s whereabouts, and reports that Leah has been married off to one of the commanders and given birth to two children, her parents have yet to see or hear from her daughter.

“Only the video released some days after their abduction, that was the first and last time I saw her face and heard her voice,” says Rebecca. 

Unwavering faith and steadfast hope

Rebecca is so proud of ‘her Leah’, even while knowing that her daughter would be with her now if she had renounced her faith. “I am thankful to Leah for the decision she took,” she continues. “She refused to become a Muslim. Her strong faith makes me feel very happy.”

It’s a joy that sits alongside grief and agonising uncertainty. “Honestly, we are not happy,” admits Rebecca. “We are just managing our lives here.” But they don’t live in despair, helped by their unwavering faith. “God has been our source of strength in everything we are doing. Looking at my walk with God, I can say this is the time I became closer to Him.”

Like many persecuted believers navigating the absence of a family member, Rebecca turns to her community and the Bible for support: “Joining the women’s fellowship church, I have been really encouraged and strengthened,” she shares. “Staying alone at home will not strengthen or encourage me… Anytime I am worried, I read and recite Psalm 23.”

“Looking at my walk with God, I can say this is the time I became closer to Him”


Such faith not only gives Rebecca and her husband strength for each day but hope for tomorrow. “We are praying for Leah; nothing is too big for God to do. I know one day she will come back,” she says.

“Keep praying for Leah”

Leah’s mother also has a message for her global family who continue to uphold her family in prayer. “I want to say a big thank you to Open Doors who have been praying with us, may God bless you all. Our thanksgiving is the only thing I can give. I lack how best to say thank you,” she says. “My request morning and night is that you keep praying for Leah, as you have been doing in the past. I know that one day God will answer and rescue my daughter.”

Thank you also to the hundreds of you who have written a message of encouragement to Rebecca and Nathan. These have now been sent to the couple and they will be a tremendous source of encouragement to them. 

There is good news from Nigeria, with the release of two more women who were taken from Chibok in April 2014. There are believed to be 94 still unaccounted for. Thank you for your continued prayers for the women and their families. 

Thank you for praying for the Chibok girls and their families – your prayers are making a difference

We rejoice in the good news that a further two of the Chibok girls have found freedom! Hauwa Maltha and Esther Marcus, both now aged 26, were fetching water on 21 April when they were found and rescued by the Nigerian army. 

The women told media that they were forcefully married to Boko Haram fighters. When the men died or disappeared, they were given to other men. Each of them has been ‘married’ three times. Esther has one child, whilst Hauwa gave birth to her second child days after being freed. 

“We received this excellent news with great joy!” shares an Open Doors spokesperson for work in sub-Saharan Africa.  “These women’s parents have waited nine long years for their daughters to come home. Pray for these women as they undergo government-provided medical care and assessment.”

2 December 2022

Chibok girls: 11 more find freedom 

Many of you continue to faithfully pray for the girls – now young women – still held captive after being taken from their school in Chibok in April 2014. We have good news to report, after the Nigerian government announced the release of 11 more women, together with at least 21 children who are among them. 

It’s now more than eight years since 275 girls had gathered for exams at Chibok Girls State Secondary School when Boko Haram militants arrived, pretending to be government security officials who had come to protect them. They coaxed the girls from their dorms onto trucks and headed for the Sambisa Forest. Before, during and shortly after the attack, 47 of the girls managed to escape.

Since then, the students have been released in batches, with a further 11 finding freedom since June. This includes Hauwa Joseph and her child, as well as Mary Dauda and her child, whose freedom we reported on in June. According to the Nigeria government, 96 women remain missing. 

“We have over 20 parents that died already from blood pressure-related complications”


The names of the other women released are: Ruth Bitrus (with one child), Kauna Luka (with three children), Hanatu Musa (with two children), Aisha Grema (with two children), Falmata Lawal (with one child), Asabe Ali (with one child), Jinkai Yama (with three children), Yana (Iyagana) Pogu (with four children), Rejoice Senki (with two children).

Thank you so much for your committed prayers for these women. The international media coverage of this story has waned, but many Open Doors supporters have continued to pray for these women and their families. It is so much appreciated. 

The women and their children are being taken care of at the Bulunkutu Interim Care Centre in Maiduguri, the capital of Borno State in north east Nigeria. Your prayers are needed as they begin their recovery and heal from their awful ordeals. It can also be hard for children fathered by militants to be accepted by their communities. Please pray that the children and their mothers will be welcomed, and that there would be no stigmatisation.

One of those recently released, Rejoice Senki, told a newspaper that she was violated constantly while in captivity, forcefully married to a Boko Haram fighter and pushed into converting to Islam. “If you don’t obey whatever they tell you, they will do whatever they like to you,” she said. 

Back to school

Encouragingly, some of those released are looking ahead to the future. In an interview with Vanguard, Mary Dauda – together with Ruth Ngalada and Hassana Adamu, who both escaped earlier this year – stressed their wish to return to education.

“We are in communication with our parents,” they said. “We are allowed to go and visit our parents and family members. We thank the government for what they have done for us, but we would like to move to our homes, to live with our families. If we are in our houses, we will feel better.” 

“We want the government to send us back to school,” they continued. “We heard that some of us who were taken away like us have gone back to school abroad. We want to go back and complete our education. This brings back our respect.”

More than 20 parents die due to protracted wait

Despite the government’s involvement in the release of the Chibok women, the parents of those still missing believe they are not doing enough to rescue their daughters. They allege that several attempts to get both the state and federal governments to talk to them about their daughters have failed, because the government apparently was not willing to discuss the matter with them. 

“If the government had told us that our daughters were dead, we will feel it for a while and forget about the pains, but in a situation where we are not sure that our daughters are dead, it becomes difficult to conclude that they have died and their memories kept coming. We are, however, hopeful that one day, they will return,” said one of the parents.

In the meantime, the agonising pain and uncertainty persists, with Dr Allen Manasseh of the BringBackOurGirls Movement (BBOG) saying that more than 20 parents of the women have died from health complications induced by the protracted wait for the return of their children.

“The level of engagement with the parents should change,” Dr Manasseh continues. “We have over 20 parents that died already from blood pressure-related complications; renal failure as a result of blood pressure.”

Open Doors continues to urge Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari to continue his efforts to liberate those held by Boko Haram militants, including young Christian women such as Leah Sharibu and those from Chibok who are still held captive, and create a family liaison position in government for the parents of those held.

Last Sunday, worshippers were gathered for a service in Nigeria when suspected Fulani militants attacked, killing one person and kidnapping a further 25. It’s the latest in a stream of attacks on Christians in Nigeria and reinforces the importance of this week’s Week of prayer for sub-Saharan Africa.

Attacks against Christians in Nigeria are concentrated in the Muslim-majority north, but it is spilling over into the south, which is mostly Christian

One person has been killed and a further 25 kidnapped in an attack by suspected Fulani militants on a church in Kaduna State, Nigeria, on Sunday (7 May).

The violent attack on Bege Baptist Church, in the village of Madala, happened as believers gathered for Sunday worship. “The Fulani militants came in their numbers and operated unhindered because they were wielding automatic weapons,” said one of the worshippers. 

The militants kidnapped at least 40 people from the church; however, 15 of these managed to escape. “We thank God that, somehow, 15 of the kidnapped persons escaped,” said John Hayan, Chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN). “However, 25 of the remaining worshippers are still in captivity without a word from their abductors.”

could give a month’s education to four young people from persecuted families to give them hope for the future.

Militants want to destabilise Christian communities 

Attacks on Christians by Fulani militants are common in north west Nigeria, where Kaduna State is situated. Although both Christian and moderate Muslim communities are attacked, Christians are their preferred target. Kidnappings often lead to large ransom demands which can impoverish families and weaken Christian communities. 

In this case, a ransom demand has yet to emerge. “We have not heard any contact for ransom or anything from them [gunmen] concerning the remaining people, and we pray that the abductors would be merciful to release the remaining 25 back to their families,” continues John. 

The attack has been severely traumatising and debilitating to believers, and those who have been kidnapped are at acute risk of emotional, physical and sexual abuse. 

According to local partners, this incident is the latest in a series of attacks by Fulani militants in southern Kaduna, which is mostly Christian. At least 50 believers have been killed in the last two months, whilst many houses and churches have been burnt. 

Please join the call to earnest and fervent prayer

“This latest attack on Christians in Nigeria underscores the crushing violence the church is up against,” says Jo Newhouse, Open Doors’ spokesperson for the work in sub-Saharan Africa. “We condemn this attack in the strongest terms possible and call on the Nigerian government to take a strong stance against all violence, bring perpetrators to book, and fulfil their obligation to protect all citizens.”

“We ask the wider body of Christ to join us in fervent and earnest prayer, especially as we are in the middle of a week of prayer for Africa and the situation the church in Nigeria and the wider Sahel is facing,” she adds.  

Ayuba was only 20 when his father was murdered by Islamic extremists in a vicious attack on his village. Here’s his extraordinary story, from seeking vengeance to choosing to forgive. And here’s how you can help believers like Ayuba stand up to violent persecution.

Ayuba was just 20 years old when his father was killed by Islamic militants
could give a month’s education to four young people from persecuted families to give them hope for the future.

Ayuba* vividly remembers the day that Boko Haram came to his village. Where he lives in the north east of Nigeria, this is a danger that everyone knows could happen: violent attacks by Islamic militant groups are increasing and there is the constant threat of attack. But nothing could truly prepare him for the day it became a reality. He was only 20 years old.

“Around 6pm, word spread that Boko Haram were approaching our village,” he remembers. “My dad told me to remain at home.” It wasn’t long before the situation escalated. “By 10pm, people had started running for their lives, because Boko Haram had arrived in our community.”

Arise Africa: A wake up call to the church

Thousands of communities in Nigeria and across sub-Saharan Africa are experiencing violent crises like this. Last year, more than 5,000 Christians were killed for their faith in Nigeria –  that’s 14 people a day, and about 90% of all the Christians murdered for their faith across the world. Thousands more were abducted or forced to leave their homes. And yet much of the world doesn’t seem to notice.

14 Nigerian Christians are killed every day for their faith

That’s why the church in sub-Saharan Africa is calling for support – and the Arise Africa campaign aims to wake up the global church to the persecution and suffering taking place on such an extraordinary scale, and to unite with them in standing up to violent persecution. That means raising prayer, awareness and vital support for Christians, like Ayuba, directly affected by the violence.  

Fleeing the village

With Boko Haram torching buildings nearby, Ayuba knew he couldn’t wait anymore. He and his younger brothers and sisters fled the village, hiding some distance away overnight. “I started crying, but someone with us cheered me up and asked me to pray rather than cry. I did, and I told others to stop crying – and to pray, instead. When we finished praying, we slept there by the riverbank until morning.”

could mean a believer displaced by persecution receives food, medicine and other emergency relief to help them survive.

Ayuba’s father had initially been hiding at his sister-in-law’s house, where he was the only Christian.  When Boko Haram burst into the house, they singled him out. It’s not only Christians who are affected by attacks in the region – but, in this attack, they were targeted. Ayuba tells the story based on what he heard later from his relatives.

“They grabbed our father and took him with them. He kept asking what his offence was, but they did not reply. They brought him outside and put him on his knees.”

The militants demanded that Ayuba’s father read a passage from the Qu’ran, as a test to see if he was a Muslim. But he didn’t try to hide his faith in Jesus. When they asked him if he was a Muslim or a Christian, he replied ‘Christian’. That reply was all the militants needed to hear to kill him. They beheaded Ayuba’s father on the spot.

“You have given and You have taken”

In the morning, not yet knowing what had happened, Ayuba and the others made their way back to the village. “Everywhere was silent,” remembers Ayuba. “When we approached our house, I could see three bodies on the ground. I recognised my father by his clothing. I dropped to my knees by his side and prayed.”

“God, I am grateful – You have given and You have taken.”


Even in that moment of grief, Ayuba was able to give thanks to God. He said, “God, I am grateful – You have given and You have taken. May my father rest together with You.” His words echo Job’s in Job 1:21: “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.” Nine Christians were killed in the attack.

Ayuba’s name on a hit list

Ayuba vowed to take revenge. He even started carrying a knife. A man in the village had helped Boko Haram identify their targets, and Ayuba was determined to kill him. “It was all I could think about,” he says.

But then he heard that the Islamic militants were planning to return. He says: “A few weeks after the attack, Boko Haram sent a list to our village – a list of people they are coming to kill. And my name was on it.”

Ayuba was reluctant to leave, but was eventually persuaded to move his siblings to another village. From there, a local pastor was able to arrange for them to move further south, about eight hours’ drive away.

Trauma care

Ayuba’s name was on Boko Haram’s hit list. He’s forgiven the man who put it there.

It was here that Ayuba was able to get trauma care at a centre run by Open Doors partners. Our partners have been supporting persecuted believers in sub-Saharan Africa for many years, and so their networks are expertly equipped and experienced to support people like Ayuba. When his father was murdered, Ayuba was at an age when persecution can have a particularly damaging impact on a young believer’s faith. Being a young Christian in his community, he took on a lot of responsibility – his life looks radically different from that of other people his age. And now, he is the breadwinner for his family.

This sort of persecution can determine the path a young Christian chooses to follow. As well as making it much harder to pay fees for schooling, the young person might decide that following Jesus is too hard where they live, and opt for an ‘easier’ path. Trauma care is a powerful way to ensure this doesn’t happen – instead, it can help a young person to heal and to understand the love and sovereignty of God, even in the face of persecution.

Learning to forgive

Ayuba found the trauma care transformative. When asked about the biggest lesson he learned at the trauma care centre, he says, “Forgiveness.” Before the counselling, he was determined to murder the man who’d betrayed his father – but, at the trauma centre, he handed over the knife he’d been carrying. “Before coming here, I had decided never to forgive, and to avenge my father’s death,” Ayuba says, “I have no problem with this man now. If we meet, we would greet each other.

“I decided to let go of my anger and have peace. God brought me here to heal me.”


“I thought to myself, what would I gain going around with a knife seeking for revenge, and my mind is never at peace? So I decided to let go of my anger and have peace. God brought me here to heal me. Honestly, if I had not come, I don’t know how I would have ended up.”

Boko Haram wanted to destroy Ayuba’s faith – but, as Joseph says in Genesis 50:20, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good.” The opposite of Boko Haram’s plans happened: Ayuba’s faith was strengthened by the trauma care.

Thank you from Ayuba

Ayuba has a message for Open Doors supporters: “I thank you so much; it is because of you that I have peace in my mind now. I said I would never forgive, and I wanted to take my revenge, but now I have forgiven totally. I have learned to leave everything at the feet of Jesus.”

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You can write to courageous Christians at the trauma care centre run by Open Doors partners – both recipients of trauma care and the counsellors giving it.
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Without this trauma care, he would be another young person lost to their traumatic circumstances. Instead, he is also able to help others facing similar trauma to him. “Firstly, I would tell them to pray, because without prayer nothing will work. I wouldn’t be here if not for prayers,” he says. “Other people going through the same things – I would like them to come to this programme. Because whatever has happened to you, you will find others who have the same issues, and more.”

God has used a particular psalm to encourage Ayuba too. “In Psalm 91, there is a portion which talks about how a thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you. Honestly, this verse has encouraged me a lot because it helps me pray more often,” he says.

Stand up to violent persecution

As the breadwinner for his family at such a young age, Ayuba needs ongoing practical support and prayers from his global church family. With your help, he can continue to get financial help from Open Doors partners, so he can continue his education and support his siblings.

Every £42 could give hope and healing at a trauma centre to three Christians who have experienced extreme violence.

Ayuba’s story is just one of thousands of stories in Nigeria and across sub-Saharan Africa. Today, you can join the courageous African church in standing against escalating violence. You can help ensure that other believers experience the same extraordinary transformation that Ayuba was able to receive – from revenge and despair to forgiveness and hope.

Today, you can answer the call of the courageous local church and join with them in standing up to violent persecution. The future of the church in sub-Saharan Africa is at risk. But, together, we can help ensure they are able to persevere, grow and share the gospel – now and for years to come. And it starts today with your prayers and your support. Thank you.

Please pray

  • “I want you to pray for us here in Nigeria experiencing terrorism,” says Ayuba. “Pray with us that God will bring an end to it.”
  • That the global church will wake up to, and stand up to, the violent persecution affecting Christians in sub-Saharan Africa.
  • For Open Doors trauma care partners to be equipped with God’s love and grace as they bring His healing to young people like Ayuba.

Get involved

Your support helps persecuted Christians continue to courageously follow Jesus. Together, we can reach those where persecution hits hardest.