Few places are as deadly as central Nigeria. For years villages on the front line between Islam in the north and Christianity in the south have been victims of the fighting between Muslim militants and Christians determined to protect their lives and rights. Boko Haram, the extremist group linked to al-Qaeda, has been harassing the population for a decade, but has recently been overshadowed by more murderous attacks by ethnic Fulani cattle herders, who are linked to Islamists too.
Last year the Global Terrorism Index called the Fulani the fourth deadliest terrorist group in the world, killing six times more people than Boko Haram. Some 6,000 people died in the first six months of 2018 and two million displaced people were forced to flee.
Archbishop Benjamin Kwashi lives in the middle of the conflict zone, in the city of Jos. A charismatic and influential figure, he has called on Christians to resist what he sees as virtual genocide by extremists trying to drive all non-Muslims out of northern Nigeria. He has paid a heavy price. Three times they have tried to kill him. His house has been burnt down. Many of his congregation have been murdered, raped or forced to flee. His wife, Gloria, was attacked while he was away, beaten and sexually assaulted in their house one night, partially blinded and left to die. She was found semi-conscious and survived.
“Each time it just makes me more determined to live my life to the full for Jesus. Whatever the gunmen do, when the suicide bombers do their worst, God’s message will always be, ‘I love you. I have given my Son for you. Turn to Him and live.’ Until my time is up, I will live each moment for the gospel,” the archbishop declared in a book just published on his turbulent time as a priest and bishop in a war zone…..”
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