On Christmas Eve and Day, more than 200 Christians were massacred in Nigeria by Muslim Fulani herdsmen, along with other terrorist/criminal attackers. In 2022, Nigeria was a killing field for Christians with more than 5,014 documented deaths. The numbers for 2023 will be just as alarming. To put that in perspective, that’s almost five times as many people as Hamas killed in the recent attack in Israel which precipitated the current war between Israel and Hamas. One prominent international organization has labeled Nigeria the deadliest country in the world for Christians.

Baptists in Nigeria were among the slaughtered. The Nigerian Baptist Convention, with more than 8 million members, is the third largest national Baptist convention in the world. Southern Baptists sent the first missionary, Thomas Jefferson Bowen, to Nigeria in 1850. From that single missionary, the Baptist movement has flourished for almost 175 years. The Nigerian Baptist Convention was formed in 1914 and has spawned other national conventions in West Africa – particularly in Ghana and Sierra Leone. Southern Baptists have a historic connection to Nigerian Baptists which should make the current persecution even more personal and painful.

What can be done about these atrocities? While prayer is the most important response, a secondary response is demanding US government assistance – particularly economic funding and humanitarian aid – be conditioned on the Nigerian government improving its protection for all religious communities. Killing any person because of their religious beliefs is wrong, must be condemned, and must be stopped – and whatever leverage we have should be used to assure this standard.

News like this should also be a sobering reminder there are real problems in the world. Too many Americans believe misplaced outrage expresses a commitment to justice. They protest frivolous issues, take superficial actions, and trumpet righteous indignation on social media – while sipping a latte in air-conditioned comfort. Being a Christian should shape our values so we invest ourselves emotionally in issues and events that matter – not just what trends or gains social capital. Being a Christian – especially a Baptist – means standing with brothers and sisters around the world and demanding freedom of religion, religious expression, and religious practice – without fear of reprisal or persecution or martyrdom.

May God help us stand up on issues that really matter!

Prayer Sparks

Pastor Jon Varner shares what he learned developing a practice of combining his daily Bible reading and prayer.

Jon Varner
Lead Pastor
Jon Varner is the lead pastor at Valley View Christian Church in Kent, Washington.

Sobering

Life is short, heaven is long. Let’s live like it today.

Jeff Iorg
President
Dr. Jeff Iorg is the president of Gateway Seminary. Prior to his service at the Seminary, Dr. Iorg was the Executive Director of the Northwest Baptist Convention for almost ten years. He was also the founding pastor of Greater Gresham Baptist Church in Gresham, Oregon, and has served as a pastor in Missouri and a staff pastor in Texas.

Hope that Sustains

Part of your leadership challenge is maintaining hope. Doing so isn’t simply practicing a high level of spiritual denial.

Jeff Iorg
President
Dr. Jeff Iorg is the president of Gateway Seminary. Prior to his service at the Seminary, Dr. Iorg was the Executive Director of the Northwest Baptist Convention for almost ten years. He was also the founding pastor of Greater Gresham Baptist Church in Gresham, Oregon, and has served as a pastor in Missouri and a staff pastor in Texas.