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The late Rev. Iliya Anto
Photo: Morning Star News

On March 21st, assailants kidnapped three church leaders at gunpoint after storming the church prayer camp site in Kaduna, north-central Nigeria, where the clergymen were supervising preparations for an Easter church service. With the use of a mobile phone that was owned by one of the seized pastors, the kidnappers made an outgoing call in demand of ransom.

Rev. Iliya Anto, thought to have been previously released by the kidnappers because of ill health, was found dead in the bush ten days after the abduction. Details of his death remain unclear. The other two pastors, Rev. Dr. Emmanuel Dziggau and Rev. Yakubu Dzarma, were released on March 30th.

According to published reports, it appears that well-armed cattle rustlers in Nigeria's Kaduna state, formerly reputed for incidences of rape and pillaging over the years, have recently turned to kidnapping. Police officials in northern Kaduna reportedly announced that they have set up a special task force to tackle the "change of tactics by the bandits."

For other reports on persecution in Nigeria, go to our online country report.

Please pray for the believers of this church in Kaduna as they mourn the loss of their dear pastor and friend, Rev. Iliya. Ask God to also minister to the pastor's grieving family, surrounding them with the comforting presence and peace of our Lord Jesus. May He guide the investigations and strategies of the police as they try to solve the mystery of Rev. Iliya's sudden passing and deal with the new tactics of the cattle rustlers. Ask that the officers of this case be granted wisdom as they navigate the best way to handle the assailants, in hopes of achieving resolution and a peaceful cease of conflict.

Current Ministry Projects

VOMC works with in-country partners to encourage and strengthen persecuted Christians through a variety of methods. Christians are equipped with audio bibles to distribute to their persecutors. Christian widows receive skills training and trauma counselling as a way to provide an income for their families and heal from the trauma they’ve faced in losing their husbands. Children who have lost parents and relatives due to attacks are provided with a safe place to grow and be nurtured. Medical fees are paid for Christians who have suffered injuries due to attacks by Boko Haram and Fulani. Discipleship and vocational training are given to Muslim Background Believers to help them start their new lives spiritually and practically. The Glenn Penner Scholarship Award is used to help equip persecuted Christians completing their Masters and have a heart to share the Gospel with the lost in their community.

Project Funds: Women’s Ministry, Bibles, Medical Fund, Families of Martyrs, Equipping the Saints, Relief & Development

Country Information

Population
219,463,862 (July 2021 est.)

Ethnicity (%)
Hausa (30), Yoruba (15.5), Igbo (15.2), Fulani (6), Tiv (2.4), Kanuri/Beriberi (2.4), Ibibio (1.8), Izaw/Izon (1.8), Other (24.7)

Religion (%)
Islam (53.5), Christianity (45.9), Other (0.6)

Leader
President Muhammadu Buhari (2015)

Government type
Federal presidential republic

Legal system
Mixed legal system of English common law, Islamic law (in 12 northern states), and traditional law

Source: CIA World Factbook

Pray for Nigeria

May God minister great comfort and healing to all who have been injured or bereaved as a result of the militants' brutal attacks. In addition, pray for the remaining abducted Chibok schoolgirls, that they will be assured of the Lord's abiding presence as they await release from captivity. Continue to uphold President Buhari and other members of the Nigerian government as they make further attempts to rescue the remaining girls and provide protection for vulnerable citizens. As they persevere in their endeavours to overcome terrorism, may they be granted wisdom, courage, strength and help from on high.

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