On 15 January 2023, Isaac Achi, a Nigerian church minister in Paikoro, Niger State, was burned to death by suspected Islamists who set fire to his home.
Reverend Achi’s life epitomises the struggles and the suffering of the Nigerian Church.
On Christmas Day 2011, he survived a Boko Haram bombing on the church he then pastored in Madalla, near the Nigerian capital of Abuja. As many as 45 were killed and 73 wounded in the blast.
It was also in Madalla that Reverend Achi was shot in the jaw during an attack on the Christian community. On yet another occasion, in February 2013, he was abducted and spent several days in captivity before being rescued.
Reverend Achi’s life, which ended so violently, was one of suffering and hardship, caused by the perpetual anti-Christian violence that plagues northern and Middle Belt Nigeria.
No sign of an end to Islamist violence
Many had hoped that Nigeria’s presidential elections on 25 February would be an opportunity for the nation to make a new start, including beginning to tackle the Islamist violence suffered by Nigerian believers.
Instead, in the weeks following the elections – which opened still further the Christian-Muslim divide in Nigerian society – the nation remains mired in controversy.
There appears no realistic path towards restoring peace and overcoming Islamist extremism. Indeed, more than 70 people were killed in Christian-majority areas of Benue and southern Kaduna states in the last two weeks – and these represent just some of those who have lost their lives in anti-Christian attacks since election day.
We must continue to pray that the Lord will raise up political leaders with wisdom and a desire for justice who can lead the nation to a better future, and that the Church will continue to speak the truth in love and bear Gospel witness to those desperately searching for hope.
Above all, pray that the Lord will sustain the faith of His people in Nigeria as they endure such trying and difficult times.