Over recent years, the Christian population of Nigeria has been subject to some horrific persecution, mostly at the hands of Islamic radicals. Estimates of those slaughtered by the vicious Fulani herdsmen runs into the thousands. But despite the bloodshed and political turmoil, the Christian community continues to thrive, with organizations working on the ground to ensure the word of God is proliferated right across this bustling West African nation.
Biblical translator Wycliffe Associates is one of these groups working with local pastors to translate the Bible into 250 different dialects so that thousands upon thousands more Nigerians can enjoy the word of God.
“Despite the challenges the Christians are facing they actually are emboldened… and strengthened in their faith and seeing that the real changes that need to take place within their communities and within their nation are spiritual changes,” Wycliffe’s CEO, Bruce Smith said in a statement, as reported by Premier News. “They see Scripture in the local languages as a key element in bringing truth and bringing light into the darkness and changing the perspective of people in their own country.”
“For them, this isn’t a ‘nice project,'” he added. “This is life or death.”
Unity at times of trouble
With so many Christians being killed in Nigeria, churches are pulling together like never before.
“One pastor told us he had never seen representatives from so many different language groups together in one place,” Smith said of a recent pastors conference held in the African nation. “For decades, they’ve been tragically locked in bitter conflict with each other. At first, they wouldn’t even speak to each other. But God’s Word softened hearts, and previously warring factions agreed to work together for the sake of bringing peace to their people.”
Stunningly, despite the Nigerian government administration being predominantly Muslim, Wycliffe has even been receiving some great interest in their work from local politicians. One governor, who leads a state of 3.2 million people, even invited the group to his office and encouraged them in their work, imploring the translation experts to keep making the Scriptures widely available to those in his country, for he believes that the Bible can usher in a new age of peace in Nigeria.
Indeed, beyond the darkness and grief of persecution and violence, people are clinging to the hope they find in the word of God.
“We often hear the stories of unrest, of violence, of church bombings, those kinds of things that are happening,” Smith noted. “And as I often say, we should take that as reminders to pray for both the believers that are there, but also [pray for] the Bible translation efforts that are already underway behind the scenes.”
Pray for all the Nigerians who continue to face persecution for their faith.
You can donate to the Bible translation campaign in Nigeria by heading here.