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In aftermath of Christmas Day beheadings, a Nigerian priest reflects on plight of Christians

FATHER PANACHY OGBEDE

Aid to the Church in Need

Tobore Ovuorie - published on 01/22/20 - updated on 01/22/20

Islamist militants released a video on December 26, 2019 of the beheading of 10 blindfolded Christians, and the shooting of an eleventh on Christmas Day.

The Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) on December 26, 2019 released a video of its fighters beheading 10 blindfolded Christian hostages and shooting an eleventh on Christmas Day. The victims’ names have not been released, but an earlier ISWAP video revealed that they’d been taken from the Nigerian states of Borno and Yobe. The terror perpetrated by ISWAP and Boko Haram has deeply scarred Nigerians, particularly the country’s Christians, who suffered a further shock from news of the December 26 beheading of a bridal party of seven of in Gwoza, Borno State.

Aid to the Church in Need spoke about the killings with Father Panachy Longinus Ogbede, the pastor of the Church of the Visitation in Lagos, Nigeria. Father Panachy said:

We must never accept violence. It is not a part of our culture. Traditional Nigerians are known to have discussions; our forefathers taught us that an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth leaves everyone blind and toothless. There will always be better and more productive ways to express our grievances.

But many people feel otherwise. They would benefit from a stronger relationship with God, which leads to more positive relationships with other human beings; it’s how the human being becomes sacred in our eyes.

We are quickly losing our sense of the sacred, as well as our sense of community. Egotism and relativism have crept in everywhere, and we have forgotten that there are still objective truths. It is not right to kill your brothers and sisters. It is not right to behave cruelly. I implore Boko Haram and ISWAP to reconsider their ways.

The truth is that Christians cannot leave their homelands. Where would we emigrate to? And for how long? We are aliens everywhere we go. We must learn tolerance and fortitude; we must persist and live freely.

The Scriptures predicted hard times for us, but hard times don’t last. Tough people do. Life is filled with ups and downs, which are often the results of human selfishness. And there will always be a Judas among the disciples. There will always be a child who strays, who goes left, when everyone else goes right. And when they do, they see that it rarely works out.

It’s when things fluctuate that we find opportunities for growth. And in order to achieve that growth, we must accept instability, imperfection, and uncertainty. Life is a mystery and requires our ongoing formation. There is light at the end of the tunnel, but we must walk through that tunnel before we reach it, or even see it.

The early apostles faced persecution, too. But Christ has never abandoned His Church. Without Him, all of us would be gone. Darkness has thrived, but it has never won.

—Tobore Ovuorie

This article was first published by Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) and is republished here with kind permission. To learn more about ACN or to help persecuted Christians around the world visit www.churchinneed.org

With picture of Father Panachy (© ACN)

Editor’s Notes:

Directly under the Holy Father, Aid to the Church in Need supports the faithful wherever they are persecuted, oppressed or in pastoral need. ACN is a Catholic charity — helping to bring Christ to the world through prayer, information and action.

Founded in 1947 by Father Werenfried van Straaten, whom Pope John Paul II named “An Outstanding Apostle of Charity,” the organization is now at work in over 145 countries throughout the world.

The charity undertakes thousands of projects every year including providing transport for clergy and lay Church workers, construction of church buildings, funding for priests and nuns and help to train seminarians. Since the initiative’s launch in 1979, 43 million Aid to the Church in Need Child’s Bibles have been distributed worldwide.

For more information contact Michael Varenne at michael@churchinneed.org or call 718-609-0939 or fax 718-609-0938. Aid to the Church in Need, 725 Leonard Street, PO Box 220384, Brooklyn, NY 11222-0384.www.churchinneed.org

Tags:
Christians in AfricaIslamist MilitantsNigeria
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