Nigerian priest: We have to pray for conversion of Boko Haram terrorists

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Nigeria has cornered Boko Haram, but the threat is far from disappearing in a country that has been suffering indiscriminate attacks by the terrorist group since 2009, many more than those that make headlines. 

Jihadist activity has produced 1,700,000 internally displaced and refugees who live in camps like this one in countries like Chad, Niger and Cameroon that have also suffered attacks from radicals. 

Christians are targeted by this group. In 2014, they kidnapped 270 students from a Chibok school. Earlier this year, they did the same thing to another school, kidnapping 113 girls. They freed all but one, because she was the only Christian. 

Fr. Jude-Marie is a Nigerian priest who has been studying in Rome for three years. He says despite the threats, Christians resist.

Nigerian priest
“It's not over. Very, unfortunately, there are those behind it, and nobody seems to really go after these people so that there will be a final stop to it. But in all of this crisis, we are very hopeful that at the end of the day we will have a way out of it. As Christians the truth is that faith remains the bedrock of our survival.”

Nigeria is a country rich in natural resources, such as oil. However, it's also one of the most corrupt and socially unequal. Fr. Jude-Marie says this combination of poverty and corruption make it a hotbed for this type of terrorists. 

Nigerian priest
“The truth is that Nigeria is a wealthy and blessed nation. The fact that we are suffering what we are suffering now means that we have put God aside and have decided to carry the weight with what we have. We have enough for our needs, but never enough for our greed, because greed is taking order of the day now.”

More than 20,000 people have been killed by Boko Haram, who not only subjects its victims to horrible physical torture, but also psychological terror.

Nigerian priest
“On the 25 of February 2014, about four different groups of Boko Haram visited and invaded their compound and every male they encountered was not just killed, but slaughtered, and the ladies were taken to their camps. Of course those who managed to escape, one of whom is this nun, are those telling their stories today. Usually, before Boko Haram would attack, they would send messages, they would send letters, they would send signals that they would come.”

Fr. Jude-Marie assures martyrdom is part of the essence of Christianity, but is also asking for international aid to end the violence ravaging his country. In this reality, Christians use the only weapon they know.

Nigerian priest
“Prayers for those who are on the forefront to persevere and continue to hold on to and not lose faith, and pray also for the conversion of those in this, because like Christ said on the cross, 'Forgive them, Lord, for they know not what they do.' They really are ignorant of the light of Christ.”

The priest explains that a large part of the Church's mission in Nigeria will be helping future generations believe that a new country is possible. 

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