By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent BosNewsLife
ABUJA, NIGERIA (BosNewsLife)– A militant group seeking to enforce Sharia, or Islamic law, throughout Nigeria, has shot and killed two children of an ex-terrorist and “murderer” because he converted to Christianity, well-informed missionaries told BosNewsLife Wednesday, November 23.
Boko Haram, meaning “Western education is a sin”, carried out the killings this month after discovering that a former fellow fighter refused to kill a Christian and instead accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior, explained Rae Burnett, Africa Director of the U.S. based Christian Aid Mission (CAM) group.
Burnett told BosNewsLife that the father and Boko Haram militant “was poised to slit the throat of his Christian victim” during November attacks in northern Nigeria that killed at least over 130 Christians, including missionaries, when “he was suddenly struck with the weight of the evil he was about to commit.”
Dropping his machete, the man ran to the nearest church, asking a pastor for help, Burnett said.
The pastor referred him to a CAM-supported indigenous ministry, where “native missionaries are reaching remote villages with the message of Christ,” she added.
“When the call came, the ministry leader was grieving the loss of several close missionary friends who were murdered in the Yobe State slaughter. He immediately met with the confessed killer and joyfully led him to Christ. He is discipling him in a secret location because of the extreme danger.”
Burnett declined to identify the former Muslim militant and missionaries, citing security concerns.
“After meeting the Lord, the converted terrorist [and] murderer called his former colleagues to testify what had happened to him without disclosing where he was,” she said.
However, “Upon discovering the man’s conversion to Christianity, Boko Haram members invaded his home, kidnapped his two children and informed him that they were going to execute them in retribution for his disloyalty to Islam. Clutching his phone, the man heard the sound of the guns that murdered his children,” the CAM official added.
There was no known published comment about the specific attack by Boko Haram, but the reported murders were part of what President leader Goodluck Jonathan called “heinous violence” which began November 4 mainly in and around Damaturu, the capital of Nigeria’s northern Yobe state.
Christian missionaries said that during the attacks Muslim “extremists” of Boko Haram also demanded that Christians recite the Islamic creed. Those who refused, were reportedly butchered on the spot.
Additionally, “among the “devastation and destruction left in the wake of Boko Haram’s violence were 10 church buildings set aflame while Christians remained trapped inside,” added Burnett, who has close knowledge about the situation.
Though “severely traumatized,” the former Boko Haram fighter who lost his children “is growing in the knowledge of Christ through the loving care he is receiving from his brothers and sisters in the ministry that is sheltering and training him,” she said. “He knows he is called to become a missionary to Nigerian Muslims.”
It was not immediately clear whether he would hand himself over to authorities for possible wrongdoing in the past, but Burnett made clear his conversion came as a boost for an “indigenous missionary ministry” which “has been working tirelessly to take the Gospel to Nigeria’s unreached Islamic northern states.”
Areas where CAM missionaries work are dominated by Muslim Hausa and Fulani tribes, many of whom are reportedly illiterate and remotely located.
“Millions have never even heard that Jesus died [and rose up from the death] for them,” Burnett said.
She claimed that despite “the extreme difficulties involved in reaching Muslims with the Gospel” several former Muslims “have made a commitment to follow Christ.”
Burnett said several ex-Muslims facing “the danger of persecution or death from the Islamic community and even family members,” are brought to “a safe location while they are discipled and trained in the Word of God.”
The government of Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country, has come under international pressure to improve protection of minority Christians in northern areas.
Nigeria’s over 160 million people are divided almost in half between Muslims living mainly in the north and Christians in the south, according to several estimates. President Jonathan has pledged to send extra troops to areas of sectarian friction, but Burnett said he faces an uphill battle.
The Boko Haram’s “goal is to force Sharia law throughout Nigeria” targeting “secular education by bombing schools and universities, ” the CAM director said. She added that while attacks are often prompted by local issues, they also aim at “anything that is perceived to be foreign influence.”
Burnett recalled a recent attack against the U.N. headquarters in Nigeria, which killed 23 people. However even hundreds of Muslims have been killed as “fanatics carry out near daily attacks in the remote northeast of Borno state, where Nigeria borders Cameroon, Niger and Chad,” she stressed.
Embassies and hotels have reportedly increased security and are on high alert amid concerns the attacks will increase and further spread in the African nation.