Out of the ashes
NORTHEASTERN NIGERIA—On the Sunday morning Boko Haram militants attacked the town of Michika in northeastern Nigeria, Pastor Joel Billy gathered the children of his congregation to the front of the church.
Fears were thick, as rumors swirled the jihadists might arrive any day. Some townspeople had fled, but others stayed, realizing they had few options to find safe haven in the rugged terrain nearby.
On a Sunday morning last September, hundreds of Christians gathered for worship at Billy’s church, a congregation of the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria (EYN). The pastor walked down the platform steps, laid his hands on the children’s heads, and delivered a harrowing message.
“It is the plan of Boko Haram to come and drive us from our homes and from our churches,” he remembers telling the little ones. “If they do come here, never deny Jesus. If they kill your parents, never deny Jesus. If they take you away to the Sambisa Forest, never deny Jesus Christ.”