This week we invite you to pray for 2 key Nations which are strategically important for the Kingdom of God in reaching the Unreached. First, we join with Operation World Prayer Focus on Nigeria.
Why is Nigeria so Important?
Because it is the:
- 6th Largest Nation by population in the World – 218 Million. (After China, India, USA, Indonesia, & Pakistan)
- 5th largest Moslem Population in a single nation. 80 million. (After Indonesia, Pakistan, Bangladesh & Iran)
- 3rd largest Christian Nation. 90 million. (After USA, Brazil)
- 3rd Highest number of Evangelicals in the World. (After USA and Brazil)
- 2nd largest Assemblies of God National Council – With other 18,098 Ministers, 16,300. Churches and 3.6 Million Members. (After Brazil AG)
- The most populace Nation in the Continent of Africa.
- Nation with great potential for Missions in Africa and beyond!
Nigeria also has Great Challenges as a Nation and a Church:
Nigeria becomes “the Greatest Enemy of Christian Faith in the World” and “a country with the world’s largest Christian Deaths for the Year 2021.”
- Persecution and Violence.
- Islamic influence.
- Political and Economic Challenges.
- Spiritual Challenges.
Church growth has been massive and remains so. A large majority of West Africa’s evangelicals live in Nigeria. Nigeria has the world’s 4th, and possibly 3rd, highest number of evangelicals in the world. Catholics, Anglicans, traditional Protestant groups, and newer Pentecostal and charismatic groups all grow. Much growth comes from among Muslims and those who follow tribal religions. This growth often happened quietly, in less obvious ways. Praise God for the millions who have come to know Him in Nigeria!
Africa and Nigeria’s greatest spiritual challenge is discipleship, not Islam, not corruption, and not even the need for missions. The Church grew so fast that many new believers have little chance to be discipled. Much division and false teaching enters into churches. Prosperity teaching distorts the gospel. A form of Christianity mixed with African tribal religious practices is common. The Church needs a balanced and biblical approach to spiritual warfare, to healing and miracles, and to outreach towards other religions. Many Christians seem to live by other values than what the Bible clearly teaches. Pray that humility, simplicity, and holiness might become the motto of the Nigerian Church. Read more from Operation World.
POLITICAL & ECONOMIC CHALLENGES:
Nigeria’s unity has survived, almost miraculously, despite countless threats. The cumulative effects of ancient tribal rivalries, Muslim conquests, British colonial policy in which the north and south were handled differently, the bitter Biafra war of 1967-70 and heightened religious tensions have left deep scars. Pray for healing and reconciliation; pray also for leadership that will serve to reconcile and unite rather than to embitter and divide.
The challenges facing the government are myriad and urgent – extremist Muslim agitation in the north, armed militias in the disgruntled and oil-rich southeast, pervasive corruption, a self-serving network of bureaucratic elite, emigration/brain drain, widespread poverty and an apparently disintegrating sense of national identity.
These are challenges enough for any established government, never mind a fledgling democracy. Pray for the right balance between caution and decisiveness in addressing such threats, and between prudence and ambition in economic development and in combating poverty.
Pray for General Elections in Nigeria in next February which is critical in dealing with violence, poverty and persecution. The Campaigning begins this week!
PERSECUTION AND RELIGIOUS ISSUES.
The world media intentionally shuns news about violence against Christians in Nigeria.
The introduction of shari’a law in northern Muslim states is a direct challenge to the federal government. It is an open door to human rights abuses and the further infiltration of Nigeria by extremists. It is a danger to national stability and a threat to Christian ministry in those states so affected.
Pray for the intrinsic cruelty and injustices of shari’a to be exposed and for those seeking moral order and social righteousness to find it in the practice of biblical principles under the authority of Christ.
- The Genocide Watch notes that by having a distinction of being the country most hostile to Freedom of Worship, Nigeria also became “the Greatest Enemy of Christian Faith in the World” and “a country with the world’s largest Christian Deaths for the Year 2021.”
- No fewer than 5,191 of the victims were unarmed citizens hacked to death or shot by Islamic radicals or hostile members of the country’s security forces.
- According to the Open Doors’ 2022 World Watch index on global killing of Christians: “4,650 Christians were killed in Nigeria between Nov 2020 and Oct 2021, higher than 3,530 deaths recorded in the previous year (Oct 2019-Nov 2020
- For the fifteen months from January 2021 to March 2022, Nigeria saw a total 6006 Christian deaths.
- From July 2009 (year of the Boko Haram Uprising) to March 2022, the Christian death tolls rose to 45,644. Approximately 30,000 moderate Muslims were also killed during the period by the country’s Jihadists, who are chiefly indigenous Fulani Herdsmen, Fulani Bandits and other jihadist pastoralists or mercenaries.
- The issues of Kidnapping of Christians and Leaders.
According to Morning Star News, just last week more kidnappings have happened raising the danger of Christians in Nigeria. Read more:
Please pray for the protection of Christians and for this senseless violence to stop.
Specific religious communities needing prayer and attention are many; Nigeria’s religious context is highly complex and varied beyond the obvious domination of the Christian-Muslim dynamic. The major blocs are:
- Muslims. 40%. Many are more open to the gospel despite – or even because of – Nigeria’s religious tensions. Tens, and possibly hundreds, of thousands have come to Christ. But many face death threats, discrimination and ostracism. Powerful Christian literature for Muslims and effective outreach methods are increasingly available. There are many expressions of Islam in Nigeria, including the majority Sunni and Shi’ite, Sufi and militant, and the hostility between some of these groups is evident.
- Practitioners of African traditional religion. While they number officially only around 3%, they more likely number around 8%; even beyond this, their practices and beliefs penetrate deeply into some forms of both Islam and Christianity. Many of Nigeria’s remaining smaller unreached-people groups are animist; they are responsive to the good news, yet are being rapidly Islamized. Pray for urgent Christian outreach to them while the door remains open.
PRAY FOR ASSEMBLIES OF GOD NIGERIA.
Praise God for the General Council of Assemblies of God in Nigeria (AGN) which has been a great influence for the Kingdom of God. The founder of AGN, Rev. Augustus Asonye was one of the first five young men who spoke in tongues in 1934 without a Missionary and contrary to their church belief. They were kicked out of Faith Tabernacle, and formed the Church of Jesus Christ and in 1939 invited the Assemblies of God, to take them over.
Today AGN is the 3rd Largest Assemblies of God National Council having over 3.6 million members, with 18,600 Churches and 16,300 Ministers. AGN in a huge resource for the Continent of Africa and for the Global Church.
Pray for the leadership of AGN and as they have their General Council this November to elect the future Leaders. Pray for dynamic vision of raising next generation leaders to reach the continent of Africa.
Pray for Pastors and Churches who are facing persecution for strength and courage to continue their work.
Pray for the Missionary Vision of AGN.
They have sent a number of missionaries to neighboring nations in Central and West Africa. Many are working among the large diaspora Nigerian communities around the world. However, there is a massive potential in AGN to send hundreds of missionaries, especially to Islamic Nations in North Africa and Middle East. Please pray for AGN Missions Director, Rev. Udochukwu Oriwa who represents Central Africa and for Rev. Uche Ama, Deputy Director of Missions for AAGA. Let us pray to raise up the sleeping giant of Missions in Nigeria.
Nigeria is one of the leading missionary-sending countries of the developing world. Pray for:
- Nationwide mission networks. The Movement for African National Initiatives (MANI), Nigeria Evangelical Missions Association (NEMA) and Agape Missions and Evangelical Network (AMEN), who all play huge roles in pushing forward the mission impetus started at the 1974 Lausanne Congress which has the goal of mobilizing 50,000 Nigerians for missions in the next 15 years. Currently, 5,300 long-term Nigerian missionaries are under the NEMA umbrella, representing 115 agencies. Around half serve cross-culturally within Nigeria; the other half serve outside the country.
- Denominational agencies with a strong missions programs such as The Evangelical Missionary Society of ECWA has by far the largest number of cross-cultural missionaries. Deeper Life Bible Church and Living Faith Ministries have sent missionaries to over 40 nations. The former has planted over 3,000 churches outside of Nigeria. AOG, Baptists, Churches of Christ in Nigeria (TEKAN) and others also have strong missionary-sending programs.
- There are now 50 missions-training institutions in Nigeria, an answer to prayer. Congregations still need to understand the vital roles they play in supporting and sending Nigerian missionaries into the field. About 2,000 Nigerian missionaries serve in other lands, mainly in West Africa; they face difficulties in receiving funds to provide for their material needs and educate their children. Read More about Nigeria Missions.
PRAY FOR EACH ZONE AND THEIR NEEDS.
Each Zone in Nigeria represents unique challenges and opportunities.
Please read and pray for each Zone represented in this Map on points given below:
- The oil industry has polluted the pristine agricultural land of millions, but only an elite (or corrupt) few have benefited. Christians are in the great majority. Pentecostal churches are the predominant influence and the fastest growing – ranging from small groups meeting in homes to megachurches.
Pray for sacrificial concern among Christians for the less-reached and less-privileged areas. In the Niger Delta and coastal regions many peoples live in these virtually inaccessible swampy, riverine areas that are largely bypassed by missions.
- There has been dramatic church growth over the last 50 years and more recently, various Pentecostal and charismatic churches. Pray for the spiritual growth of believers and for true conversion of the younger generation – evangelical nominalism is a major problem. Pray for revival and a vision for cross-cultural outreach.
- Muslim missionary activity has intensified in the region. Considerable efforts are made to win over followers of ethnic religions and backsliding Christians.
- The occurrences of religious violence and persecution in this region, especially Plateau state and its capital, Jos, have been prominent in the last decade. It is the fault line between Christian- and Muslim-dominated Nigeria. Pray for boldness and faithfulness in the midst of pressures and for a Christlike response to opposition.
- There is a great need for Nigerian missionaries to ensure that the costly gains in church growth are not lost. Pray for the sending of workers, from the scores of denominations and churches who will be well prepared and effective in such a hostile, dangerous environment.
- The gospel has made progress since independence despite considerable opposition from Muslims. Many smaller non-Muslim peoples and an increasing number of Muslim-majority peoples are responding to the gospel. Believers from a Muslim background are often driven either underground or out of their home area.
Read More details about each Zone:
Pray for the unreached peoples.
- The Fulani (Fulbe) are a strategic people across Africa and sub-Saharan Africa’s largest unreached-people cluster. Their origins are in Senegal, but their greatest numbers are in Nigeria, where 16 million of the 32 million Fulani live. They form both the strongly Muslim ruling class (Sokoto/Toroobe) and the nominally Muslim nomadic cattle grazers over much of Nigeria and the Sahel. Over 90% of Nigerian Fulani are Muslim, but an increasing number are responding to the gospel.
- The Hausa are known as predominantly Muslim, but a number actually follow traditional religions. Among these are the Maguzawa, a people with their own distinctive culture who retain the pre-Islamic, traditional Hausa religion. An exciting turning to Christ is happening among them.
- The Isawa, a Hausa Muslim fringe group that gives high honour to Jesus, are also responding to the gospel. Christian resources in Hausa are widely available.
- The Kanuri of Borno state are proudly Muslim and have been so for 1,000 years. They doubt that other peoples can even practice Islam properly. There are few believers among the 5.2 million even after years of witness.
- The Gwoza Hills (Adamawa and Borno). The area is hotly contested spiritually, with some peoples turning from paganism – more to Christianity than to Islam. Over 23 peoples live in the area.
Thank you for taking the time to Pray for this great Nation of Nigeria.
Please mobilize prayer in your Church and Nation for Nigeria.
- Operation World.
- Open Doors.
- A Biography of Rev. Dr. Augustus O. Asonye,
- Genocide Watch.
- Morning Star News.
- Pics sources:
- Assemblies of God Nigeria.
- Genocide watch.