He was willing to make the ultimate sacrifice in order to save his fellow countrymen. When one local Muslim imam spotted terrified families rushing into his village in a central region of Nigeria, he made a quick decision to shelter them from harm.
This was a Christian community under fierce attack from around 300 Islamic militants, and if the imam was to turn the other way, they would all certainly be massacred. But this leader had a lot more courage than that.
Despite risking his own life and the retribution of the attackers, the anonymous imam set about getting the group to safety. “I first took the women to my personal house to hide them. Then I took the men to the mosque,” he told BBC Pidgin.
Villagers described the panicked scene as militants stormed their community, opening fire and setting fire to several houses. “First they attacked a village before us so we ran to the security post,” one victim of the attack told the BBC. “But then they started firing towards the security post so we all ran away – even the security personnel.”
Incredibly, despite hearing that the Christians were being hidden within the walls of the local mosque, the brave imam refused to give the Jesus followers up to the bloodthirsty militants. As the mob grew more aggressive and even threatened to burn down the mosque and his house, the imam threw himself on the ground and pleaded with the men to leave through floods of tears. At that moment, and to his absolute astonishment, the men left.
Hundreds of people have been killed in 2018 as the violence against Christians escalates. Shockingly, a 2016 report suggested that more people have been massacred in the violence between Christian farmers and Fulani herdsmen than those that have been targeted by the notorious “Boko Haram.”
But on this fateful evening, and thanks to one man’s courage, a mass slaughter was averted. In total, this heroic leader hid 262 men, women and children in his home and mosque.
The imam later explained that he desired to help the Christian community because more than 40 years ago, they had allowed the Muslims to build their mosque – on a piece of land gifted to them by the Christ-following community. Even after the militants had fled, the Christians remain holed up in that same mosque that they had graciously allowed to be built some four decades ago.
“Ever since they took us into the mosque, not once did they ask us to leave, not even for them to pray,” said the local chief.
“They provided dinner and lunch for us and we are grateful.”
The villagers stayed under the protection of the imam for five days, before heading to a camp for displaced people.
In other areas of Nigeria, the Fulani have managed to execute dozens of Christians in recent weeks. The violence has become so severe that Christian persecution charity Open Doors has set up a fundraiser for those in affected regions.
“Urgent Need: Militant Fulani herdsmen recently went on a four-day killing spree near the town of Jos in northern Nigeria. Our field workers report at least 200 Christians were killed between June 21-24. There is currently a dusk-to-dawn curfew in place, but the violence continues,” the organization wrote on the page.
“These suffering Christians need our immediate help. In many cases, their lives depend on it.”
You can donate here.