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World News

Nigerian Christian woman held hostage by Boko Haram tells story of faith and survival

by Tola Mbakwe

A Nigerian Christian woman whose family was brutally attacked by Boko Haram and was later held captive by the terrorists has told Premier how she kept her faith strong throughout it all. 

On the evening of 2nd October 2012 a group of 20 Boko Haram terrorists broke into Amina's* home in Maiduguri, Borno State. After raiding the house of all their belongings, the Islamic extremists then tried to force her husband and children to deny Christ. 

"But they refused," she said. "The terrorists then tied them at the back, covered their faces and told my husband and children to lie down flat on the ground. Then they started slaughtering them one by one.

"My husband died immediately but two of my children were later rushed to hospital and their lives were saved by God's grace after surgery. They survived, although today they still have to go back for check-ups."

After such a traumatic experience, Amina (pictured above) came into contact with the radical again five years later. 

In June 2017, she said she was on a bus which was attacked by Boko Haram. 

"They opened fire on the bus and there were 16 of us inside; five men and eleven women. They killed all the men immediately and then took the women to a forest where we were kept for eight months. All of us suffered from trauma, fear and anxiety."

She said the radicals would preach their ideologies to the hostages, trying to convince them to renounce their Christian faith. But Amina said she and others refused. They secretly prayed and sang to God. Sometimes, the soldiers would find out and threaten to kill them, but she said they still persisted.

"By the special grace of God, we all stood in faith," Amina recounted. "For us, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. We always prayed and sang songs to God because we preferred to die than to become Muslims. But it was not easy."

After being released from captivity Amina took part in a trauma healing program through Open Doors. 

"After the program, I got peace for my family and myself," she said. "I thank God for that encouragement that they gave to me at that time."

Amina's harrowing story is one similar to thousands of people living in Nigeria, especially in the north east of the country. 

According to Christian persecution charity Open Doors, the killings of Christian in Nigeria during 2020 tripled to 3,800. On average, ten Christians were killed every single day in Nigeria.

In violent attacks by Boko Haram, Hausa-Fulani Muslim militant herdsmen, ISWAP (an affiliate of ISIS) and other Islamic extremist groups, Christians are often murdered or have their property and means of livelihood destroyed.

Men and boys are particularly vulnerable to being killed. Meanwhile, Christian women are often abducted and raped by these militant groups and sometimes forced to marry Muslims. Open Doors said perpetrators are seldom brought to justice. 

CEO of Open Doors UK and Ireland told Premier: "It's clear that Boko Haram and Fulani militants took advantage of the lockdown to increase their attacks on Christians. And the security forces were looking the other way because they were trying to enforce lockdown, so the attacks have increased exponentially."

The West African country has been number nine on Open Doors' World Watch List, which is an annual listing of the countries around the world where Christians face the most extreme persecution and discrimination. 

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