Bearing Persecution with Joy
How to Pray for Christians in Nigeria
By Bennett Rolan – BSF Editorial Manager
Halfway through his morning commute, Luka’s senses are on alert. As he walks through the streets of Jos, Nigeria, Luka scans his surroundings for subtle changes. Even a slight shift in the mood or crowd could indicate immediate danger.
Luka’s path to work leads him directly through a Muslim neighborhood. Years ago, he was simply unwelcome here, but today, he is targeted. As a Christian, the days of unrest in the “middle belt” of Nigeria have turned into a real risk of persecution.
While statistics remain unclear, reports estimate that an average of 17 Nigerian Christians were killed per day in 2021. Thousands of school children have been abducted and held for ransom. Rural villages are targeted and burned, resulting in mass killings. In a January 11 attack, 100 homes were burned to the ground and 18 people were killed, including an 18-month-old child.
“Once I start the journey from my house, I rely on the voice of the Spirit to help me know if there is danger,” he said. “I have to know what is happening in front and behind. Once I sense something is not normal, I have to turn around.”
As a long-time BSF Teaching Leader, Luka finds confidence in God’s promises, balancing wisdom and faith.
“God’s grace is sufficient for us in all things and at all times and in all circumstances,” he shared. “God’s presence has been a great encouragement. Knowing that what we are passing through is because we bear His name, we can continually go through persecution with joy and that is a blessing. Persecution is scriptural, it is prophesied, and it is fulfilled because God said we shall suffer when we follow in Jesus’ footsteps.”
Nigeria is divided religiously, about half of the population identifies as Muslim, while the other half are Christians. Most of the Muslim population lives in the north, while the Christian population mainly resides in the south. In the early 2000s, unrest began to rise throughout the nation because of the emergence of Islamic militant groups such as Boko Haram and the Fulani militia.
Christian massacres were formerly relegated to rural villages, especially in the northern part of the country, but the wave of persecution is moving southward. Located in the center of the country, the Christians in Jos are now experiencing increased abduction and economic oppression.
“Currently, there is kidnapping everywhere,” Luka said. “Christians are the major target.”
Hope in the Darkness
In the wake of increased violence, Luka considered suspending BSF meetings for safety, but class members were determined to meet. The group changed their class time so members could return home during daylight.
“This has not deterred our members from coming to class. I discovered something about our class members, the more there is attack and insecurity, the closer they grow to God. One thing I learned about BSF members is that they are willing to die for Christ,” Luka said. “There was a crisis in Jos two days before our meeting and I was thinking about stopping the class. That meeting we had the best attendance. They don’t want to miss a class because of what God is doing.”
As the class continues to study Matthew, Jesus’ teachings encourage those in their darkest moments. Finding hope through the compassion and miracles of Christ gives them confidence to cling to God’s Truth. Exploring Jesus’ fortitude when faced with the cross, and the joy of His resurrection, brings Philippians 1:21 to life — “to live is Christ and to die is gain.”
A Call to Pray and Remember
For each of us, the persecution of our brothers and sisters in Nigeria reminds us that our days are not our own. Jesus doesn’t promise us safety or comfort. He doesn’t guarantee that our lives will be long. But Matthew 28:20b promises that He will go with us as we walk in faith.
“In the places where there is no persecution, I pray you will use the privilege God has given to you,” Luka shared. “Walk in evangelism, walk in witness, walk in Christ, so we can turn the whole world to Him. We are very needful of the prayers of believers all over the world. While we are passing through this time of persecution, we feel your prayers through the Spirit. It is our joy that you are praying.”
Together, let us pray for the perseverance of our brothers and sisters in Nigeria. Let us always remember their suffering and find hope in their joy. Bound by Christ in His Spirit, may we “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and of the Holy Spirit …” (Matthew 28:19)
BSF Editorial Manager
Bennett joined the BSF staff in 2017 after working for several publications, Christian ministries and non-profits. She loves to combine her passion for God’s Word and her journalism background to share stories of God’s Work in and through BSF. As a wife to a busy college football coach and a mom to four young children, BSF studies keep her relationship with the Lord grounded and focused. She loves to learn from fellow believers as God faithfully grows her each day.
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I lived in Jos, Nigeria as a youth and remember the dangers Christians faced. This was a beautiful reminder of God’s protection, His people’s perseverance in times of persecution and the hope of eternity.
Lord you are sovereign and you will always be. I thank you that in you there is hope for any and every situation. Lord I pray for protection, courage and hope in the lives of our brothers and sisters in Nigeria. Lord release your mighty angels to hide them from their persecutors to the glory of your name. Strengthen their faith in you in Jesus name. Amen
God, may your presence and guidance be felt by Luka, his entire class and the entire Christian community in Nigeria! Please protect them so that they may proclaim your Word as it is stated in Psalms 118:17 “I will not die; instead, I will live to tell what the LORD has done.”
When do we start?
Hello, please contact your local class administrator or group leader to determine the start date of your class. If you do not know who to contact, please go to join.bsfinternational.org, find your group, and click “contact.” Thank you
Praying for Nigeria . Our God is great. As we trust each step in His will … If we suffer for the cause of Christ Jesus. He is with us. Our days are in his hands .. we pray for courage and peace .
Ps 100. He gives us Joy
Being a member of the class Luka is leading, I can testify that the Holy Spirit’s ever-abiding presence is real. Before the year 2000, Jos was a city that one drove in all sections with confidence and no fear. But since 2001, one has to look over one’s shoulder. The Holy Spirit’s soft whisper “this the way, walk in it ” becomes a reality. The recent development is that even the countryside is not safe. Farmers cannot confidently go to their farms. In some villages one cannot be out after dusk. Pray that we may discern the Spirit’s voice as He guides.
Dear Jonah – thank you for the update. We continue to pray for your country and are inspired by your faith! Father, thank you for protecting these men and women, make your voice known and your presence felt daily. Help them to rest in your future justice and plan.
I am praying for you and the other believers in Nigeria. God, help them to be salwart in their faith. Oh, dear Father, please protect them.
Yes the Lord is our sisters and brothers light and salvation and we will keep on praying that they will not be afraid because he is their fortress and protector from danger so that they will not tremble but keeping on witness and standing in faith for for our lord as they boldly live for him
I have been praying for Luka and his class. I shared this blog with my group and they are also praying. Is there an update? We’ve been wondering how they are.
I join you all in prayer. Thank you for telling us about Luka and his class!
Luka ,our dear brother, I pray that enemies eyes don’t see you and don’t hear where you are.
In Jesus mighty name Amen🙏🙏🙏🙏
Lord, be with our brothers and sisters in Nigeria where the persecution is so heavy. Strengthen their faith, increase their hope, joy and love for you. May they sense your presence ever so strongly and cling to the promises of your Word. Give them the same courage king David had as he stood before Goliath. I pray for their protection and safety as they trust in your mighty power. In Jesus’ Name, Amen!
Thank-you Anna for your beautiful prayer. I too will use your prayer.
Luka sets me a challenge here, where there is no persecution yet . Australia is largely cold and indifferent to Christianity. Thank you Luka for urging to “Walk in evangelism, walk in witness, walk in Christ, so we can turn the whole world to Him. Praying for our fellow believers in Nigeria.
A real story of perseverance in the face of real and ever-present danger.
Good job, Bennett.
Thank you for sharing Luka’s situation. I had been doing short term missions since 1995 to Africa, Albania, Armenia, Belarus, Cambodia, Cuba, Egypt, Granada, Guatemala, Honduras, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Moldova, Mongolia, Russia, Ukraine and maybe others, which I can’t remember, but I always thought that my life was in God’s hands while I traveled to and from the area and especially while in some of those countries. I never felt threatened although we were lined up by secret servicemen in Russia while in one of their cities and were all told we had to sign a paper, decease and desist our teaching of Christian Ethics & Values Curriculum, and were escorted out and told we could not return to Russia for five years. However, it was our understanding that the teachers (Christian interpreters) carried on and continued the course that week and we gave God the glory that our experience resulted in the locals carrying on the teaching of the curriculum which continues today in various cities throughout Russia where it has been implemented. The newest curriculum they are doing is Conferences via Zoom so I no longer have been able to go in person since the pandemic, but my heart cry is for foreign missions even today as I rapidly reach 73 years old. So I pray that the Lord still has plans to use my husband and me in His service wherever that may be. We both have been teaching Bible classes and Sunday School for over 20 years and we miss those opportunities of overseas mission work that we once cherished as our second family. Now BSF and my other biblical teaching opportunities have been confined to local( in person) studies since I am electronically challenged, but my husband is much more astute when it comes to computers
So I pray that Luka and all his flock will be protected by our Lord Jesus and that there will a breakthrough of a revival throughout his country and the continent of Africa as a result of his steadfastness and perseverance in sharing the love of God’s Word and of Jesus’ free gift of eternal life to all who turn to Him and accept His death, burial, resurrection and ascension to the right hand of the Father…
I look forward to meeting Luka someday: here, there, or “in the air”. God bless all of those who daily are in harms way as Luka, others and as. the Apostle Paul did in service to his Lord and King…to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. (Song: What a Day that will be when my Jesus I shall see…)
The situation in Nigeria as shared by our brother Luka calls us to prayer, Study of God’s Word, Unity of the Body of Christ and the realisation that these are the end times.
We are not alone or destitute for Christ will never leave us or forsake us. Let’s keep our eyes on Christ the author and finisher of our faith.
Hearing your story gives me great urgency to pray for you and those around you. Praying for you Luka especially for strength peace and endurance.
“As for other matters, brothers and sisters, pray for us that the message of the Lord may spread rapidly and be honored, just as it was with you. And pray that we may be delivered from wicked and evil people, for not everyone has faith. But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one. We have confidence in the Lord that you are doing and will continue to do the things we command. May the Lord direct your hearts into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance.”
2 Thessalonians 3:1-5 NIV
May the message of the Lord spread rapidly and be honored!
Christians from Jos in Nigeria, I salute you.! 👏 May God sustain you with power from on high to continue standing amidst persecution. We’re praying for you. SA.
My prayers will be with you, dear Brothers & Sisters, in Nigeria.
It hurts to know what you endure but yet, I am so encouraged to read of your fortitude and spirit in Christ.
May He grant you protection and cover as you endeavor to live faithfully for Him.
Thank you for sharing the information about fellow believers & classmates in Christ
It is so important that we see ourselves as one ” United in Christ. No one stands alone.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
It gives me joy that you are praying for persecuted Christians in Nigeria. Also for reminding us that our days are not our own.. The Lord, will teach us to number our.days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. Psalm 90:12 NIV. BSF LESSONS IN THE BOOK OF MATTHEW IS REALLY TIMELY. Thank God l am growing in faith daily despite the persecution. God bless BSF Leaders, members and Workers
praise god Nigeria for your faith in god and his promises and remaindering me that to live is to die and to die is gain and not only just to pray but increase my diligent to never stop praying for each other