Aid For Survivors of Christmas Massacre in Nigeria

Nigeria Christmas Gift

The news from Nigeria turned quickly. First, it was heart-warming, then horrifying.

Let’s start with the good news.

Last Christmas children were thrilled to open bags filled with gifts. Dozens of young adults cheerfully carried new furniture into their home.

The surprise Christmas gifts were for our sponsored children from supporters like you. The young adults live at the Treasure Center, a recovery and training center which together we helped to build and furnish. Thank you!

These young Christians have survived terrifying persecution. Their families were brutally attacked by Islamists. But they are seeing God’s love through your support and prayers.

Now for the bad news. (Warning: Graphic information)

As Christians in Nigeria celebrated Jesus’ birth, terrorists struck. The coordinated massacres started on Christmas Eve.

Muslim Fulani militants slashed, shot, burned, and killed Christians in over 30 villages. Farmlands, vehicles, homes, and churches were destroyed.

Over 240 died. Over 10,000 people were forced from their homes. Many are living in makeshift tents, in dire need of food, medicine, and clothes.

“This indeed has been a gory Christmas for us,” said Plateau State Gov. Caleb Mutfwang.

Our partners – who days before were giving Christmas gifts – quickly traveled to the survivors to be with them and give desperately needed aid.

And they interviewed survivors for a TV broadcast. This was crucial for getting the truth directly from the victims. Here are several testimonies:

A pastor who lost his wife and five daughters.

On Christmas evening he saw many cattle and Fulani coming. Among them was a man he recognized. He called and asked, “What’s happening?”

The man said nothing is wrong.

“He deceived me. I thought he was a friend. I called the police. No one showed up. We were helpless,” he said.

“The militants came in waves. They chanted ‘Allahu Akbar’ and were shooting everywhere. After 40 minutes, the village was set ablaze. My wife and daughters were burned in our house,” he said.

“We don’t know the cause or what was in their minds. They just came and slayed us.”

A woman who lost her husband.

“We were peacefully at home,” one lady said. “We saw Fulani coming with guns. They chased us. They pursued us like goats. They shot us. They killed my husband. They killed our elderly women. They burned our church down.”

“We kept running that night. I ran three miles. I was shot multiple times. They thought I was dead. I sustained three bullet wounds. I slept in the bush that night,” she said.

“They are Fulani who are our neighbors. We lived in peace with them. It is our neighbors who burned our houses,” she said.

What Next?

Thousands of Christians who escaped these horrific attacks urgently need our help.

Christian Freedom International rushed emergency aid to thousands of Christian survivors of the massacres – relief packages filled with food and hygiene items for their daily needs.

Our partner Stefanos Foundation organized and distributed the aid for displaced Christians in camps.

“You have been praying for us,” said Reverend Mandong Stephen Bitrus, a leader in the camp.”But today we are feeling the touch of your partner [Christian Freedom International] and we sincerely want to say thank you very much for extending your hand of fellowship to us and may the good Lord continue to bless” those who gave.

He prayed, “For since the time that this misfortune struck us God in Your sovereignty, You have been raising people from far and near, outside our shores of this country to extend their hand of fellowship and love to us as brethren. We are receiving that which they brought with gratitude of heart.”

Stefanos Foundation also called for the immediate resettlement of Christian families back to their farms. For this to happen, the government must fight the jihadists and defend Christians.

But Nigeria is unlikely to act unless they are pressured by the U.S.

Regrettably, our current government has “not stepped up to protect Christians,” said Rep. Chris Smith, a long-time champion for innocent victims.

That is why we must act. Here is what you can do:

* Help Christian survivors by giving desperately needed food and other aid.

* Pray for traumatized survivors to find healing in Jesus and hope for a new life.

* Pray for militants to turn from evil and seek forgiveness from God and their victims.

* Pray for government and international leaders to speak and act for Christians in Nigeria.

Thank you for praying and taking action for neglected and persecuted Christians.


Fact Sheet on Nigeria

Nigeria leads the world in Christians killed, with more than every other country combined. Stefanos Foundation in Nigeria has recorded 41,879 Christians killed by jihadists since 2001.

Two major groups terrorize Nigerians: Boko Haram and its offshoot Islamic State in West Africa Province (ISWAP); and Fulani militants. Christian farmers and Fulani herdsmen have lived amicably for decades. One horror of the attacks, survivors say, is “We knew them. We grew up with them.”

The brutality, sophisticated weapons, and radicalized views of militant Fulanis indicate an outside source is behind the jihad. The government’s inaction creates suspicion that authorities are complicit.

Some politicians blame climate change for the terrorism, saying that arid conditions cause tensions between cattle herders and farmers for land. But one Nigerian Christian noted, “The whole world is going through climate issues. They are not killing Christians.”

A Nigerian said, “It’s tough to tell Nigerian Christians this isn’t a religious conflict since what they see are Fulani fighters clad entirely in black, chanting ‘Allahu Akbar!’ and screaming, ‘Death to Christians.’”

Pattern of Attacks

The first wave of attackers is followed by a second wave of settlers.

Fulani militants armed with expensive weapons and machetes invade villages. They massacre, rape, loot, and kidnap, inflicting trauma and economic devastation. Everything that is needed to survive – crops, livestock, homes, schools, churches – is destroyed.

Christians are forced out. Settlers move in, install an emir, and rename the villages to a Muslim name.

“This is happening every day of our lives,” one pastor said. “We cannot complain to government officials because they are Fulani.”

Testimonies from Survivors of Islamist Attacks

“They were trained terrorists. They killed those who couldn’t run – the aged, children, the blind. A pastor was their first casualty.” Baroness Cox, ‘An Insurgency of Terror: The Crisis Facing Christians in Nigeria. Visit Report (November 2016)

“They grabbed my daughter and split her head in two. They cut off one of my fingers and stuffed it in my daughter’s mouth. They continued to cut off my hand.” Southern Kaduna: Blood, Tears and Anger, Documentary on YouTube (December 2022).

“They shot Sarah’s husband and children and so she begged them to kill her too, but they refused, saying that they wanted her to cry and bear the pain.” Humanitarian Aid Relief Trust, ‘Hidden Atrocities’ (November 2018).

“They wore black and red. Red to conceal blood splashes on their clothes as they butchered their victims.” Humanitarian Aid Relief Trust. “Hidden Atrocities” (November 2018)

Nigeria’s Neglect or Complicity

Nigeria’s government fails to pursue attackers or protect Christians.

“I called security, but they never came,” a Christian youth leader told the Associated Press about the Christmas massacres.

Stefanos Foundation warns authorities of pending attacks based on intelligence, but many warnings go unanswered. In one raid, soldiers withdrew from the area before the attack and failed to respond even though the military barracks were in sight and sound of the attacks.

“What makes it worse is that the attackers are neither apprehended nor prosecuted,” Stefanos Foundation said.

What Can We Do?

Americans can urge the U.S. president to hold Nigeria accountable.

In 2018, President Trump told Nigeria’s President Buhari, “We have a serious problem with Christians who have been murdered, killed, in Nigeria. We are going to be working on that problem very, very hard because we can’t allow that to happen.”

The effect was immediate. “Everything broke loose,” a missionary reported. The next day Nigerian military were ordered to two areas where Islamist groups were headquartered.

In 2020, the U.S. designated Nigeria a Country of Particular Concern (CPC), a list of the most severe violators of freedom of religion. This put a spotlight on the government and “restrained the killings,” the missionary said.

In 2021, without any explanation, the Biden administration lifted the CPC designation. Well-coordinated brutal attacks multiplied and spread. Days after the Christmas massacres, the State Department again failed to list Nigeria as a Country of Particular Concern.

Much needs to be done, but “nothing will get going until Nigeria is back on the CPC list,” said one Nigerian pastor.

Christian Freedom International provides critical aid for persecuted Christians in Nigeria and other countries.