A pastor who graduated from Calvin Theological Seminary in the US state of Michigan has been gunned down with his pregnant wife as he worked on the family farm in Nigeria's Taraba State.
The Rev Emmanuel Saba Bileya and his wife, Juliana, were shot dead by unidentified gunmen on Monday 1st June, according to a statement released by the Hausa Christians Foundation. They leave behind eight children between the ages of 1 and 19.
A spokesperson for the state police said: "It was an attack on the pastor and his wife on their farm. While they were working on the farm, suddenly armed men came and opened fire on them, leading to the death of the pastor and his wife."
Rev Bileya served as a pastor at a Christian Reformed Church in the Donga local government area after receiving a Master of Theology from Calvin back in 2014. He previously ministered at Veenstra Theological Seminary in Donga. Biyela was also in the final stages of his doctoral studies at the Robert E. Webber Institute of Worship Studies (IWS) in Jacksonville, Florida.
In a statement, IWS said: "It is with a broken heart that IWS announces the deaths of D.W.S. student Emmanuel Bileya, his wife Juliana, and their child in utero, whose name is known only to God.
"Their martyrdom was the result of an ongoing ethnic war in their home country of Nigeria.
“Without fail, any email or letter from Emmanuel would begin the same way: ‘Calvary greetings.'
"This constant reminder of Christ’s death was, as Emmanuel well knew, also a reminder of Christ’s victory over the grave.
“We know that at this time, Emmanuel would want those of us who grieve to place our focus not solely on these tragic deaths, but ultimately on the victory over death that Christ has secured for all who place their faith in Him.”
The Hausa Christians Foundation statement added: "What is being noted as systematic direct war against Christianity in Nigeria, pastors, Christian leaders and seminarians are either being kidnapped or killed every week."
"Christians in Nigeria have been the target of many attacks by the vicious Boko Haram jihadist Islamist terrorists, herdsmen attacks and many other kidnappings in recent times.”
Taraba governor, Darius Ishaku told a local news outlet: “The killing of the pastor and his wife is wicked and inhuman.
"Killings of this nature have happened too often recently in Southern Taraba communities and this is unhelpful to the ongoing efforts of the government to achieve lasting peace among communities in the area.”