Persecution of Christians continues to increase, especially in the north. Some extremist Muslim groups have killed thousands of people, and have destroyed hundreds or even thousands of churches. Persecution unites Christians and drives them to the Lord in prayer, but it also threatens the very core of Nigerian society and statehood. Pray for restoration and recovery for those who suffer from loss, or from rape. Pray for forgiveness, and for deliverance from a spirit of revenge. Pray for believers to respond in the most Christ-like way possible. Finally, pray that the enemies of Christ who commit these terrible acts would become His followers!
- The oil industry has polluted the pristine agricultural land of millions, but only an elite (or corrupt) few have benefited. In this environmental disaster, natural gas is wasted, the land is degraded and the sea polluted. After many years of increasingly violent protests and struggles, both the federal government and oil companies have recognized these issues. In 2009, oil companies paid their first reparations and compensation settlement (with the Ogoni people); the government granted amnesty to activists and promised $1 billion in development aid. Pray monies will be spent justly and prudently for the benefit of all and that peace will result.
- The SW was pioneered by Anglicans, Methodists and Southern Baptists, and the SS and SE by Presbyterians, Catholics, Qua Iboe (Mission Africa) and others. Christians are in the great majority. Pentecostal churches are the predominant influence and the fastest growing - ranging from small groups meeting in homes to megachurches. Rural areas lack dedicated pastors because of the relative poverty. Pray for sacrificial concern among Christians for the less-reached and less-privileged areas. Pray that revival might make the Christians into true disciples of Jesus.
- The Niger Delta (SS) and coastal regions. Many peoples live in these virtually inaccessible swampy, riverine areas that are largely bypassed by missions. Christianity is often just a veneer over African traditional religion. Just a few miles from cities with thriving churches lie unreached villages awash with paganism. CMS, CMF and AoG have church-planting ministries in the area; local churches need to be convinced of their own responsibility - and ability - to reach out to these needy places.
- There has been dramatic church growth over the last 50 years. Major denominations are ECWA, Anglican, Baptist, the TEKAN family of churches and, more recently, various Pentecostal and charismatic churches. Pray for the spiritual growth of believers and for true conversion of the younger generation - evangelical nominalism is a major problem. Pray for revival and a vision for cross-cultural outreach.
- Muslim missionary activity has intensified in the region. Considerable efforts are made to win over followers of ethnic religions and backsliding Christians. Pray that these attempts may actually result in many coming to Christ. Pray that Christians may overcome historic hatreds and personal fears for the sake of courageous witnessing to Muslims in love.
- The occurrences of religious violence and persecution in this region, especially Plateau state and its capital, Jos, have been prominent in the last decade. It is the fault line between Christian- and Muslim-dominated Nigeria. British colonial arrangements placed Muslim rulers over Christian populations; most recently, this has seen the imposition of shari'a on Christian-majority areas as well as the overturning of Muslim rule via democratic elections. Jos is a centre of Christian ministry; Jos itself and many believers therein have suffered as a result of much destruction and chaos. Pray for boldness and faithfulness in the midst of pressures and for a Christlike response to opposition.
- There is a great need for Nigerian missionaries to ensure that the costly gains in church growth are not lost. The Nigerian Church is burdened for this area and knowledgeable because of the good research done. Pray for the sending of workers, from the scores of denominations and churches who will be well prepared and effective in such a hostile, dangerous environment.
- The gospel has made progress since independence despite considerable opposition from Muslims. Many smaller non-Muslim peoples and an increasing number of Muslim-majority peoples are responding to the gospel. Believers from a Muslim background are often driven either underground or out of their home area. As a result, an underground network of believers is developing, as are Christian ministries focused on sheltering and discipling converts. Pray for the protection and growth of this accelerating movement.
- Pray for the unreached peoples.
- The Fulani (Fulbe) are a strategic people across Africa and sub-Saharan Africa's largest unreached-people cluster. Their origins are in Senegal, but their greatest numbers are in Nigeria, where 16 million of the 32 million Fulani live. They form both the strongly Muslim ruling class (Sokoto/Toroobe) and the nominally Muslim nomadic cattle grazers over much of Nigeria and the Sahel. Over 90% of Nigerian Fulani are Muslim, but an increasing number are responding to the gospel. Recently, the Nigerian and global Church caught the vision for the evangelization of the Fulani, and partnerships were formed for mobilization, strategy and coordination of ministry. Effectively reaching nomadic pastoralists is a particular challenge. If the gospel gripped this group, all of West Africa would be affected! Many of the urban Fulani speak only Hausa and must be reached through this language.
- The Hausa are known as predominantly Muslim, but a number actually follow traditional religions. Among these are the Maguzawa, a people with their own distinctive culture who retain the pre-Islamic, traditional Hausa religion. An exciting turning to Christ is happening among them. The Isawa, a Hausa Muslim fringe group that gives high honour to Jesus, are also responding to the gospel. Christian resources in Hausa are widely available. Pray for large numbers of Hausa to be won for Christ; this is happening on an increasingly larger scale.
- The Kanuri of Borno state are proudly Muslim and have been so for 1,000 years. They doubt that other peoples can even practice Islam properly. There are few believers among the 5.2 million Kanuri, even after years of witness by TEKAN-Pioneers, CMF, CAPRO and 22 other Nigerian missions. There is only one Kanuri church, but now the NT is published and the JESUS film and other resources are available.
- The Gwoza Hills (Adamawa and Borno). The area is hotly contested spiritually, with some peoples turning from paganism - more to Christianity than to Islam. Over 23 peoples live in the area. Pray for those in the heart of this battle, such as the Guduf (30,000), Dughwede (20,000) and Marakam (4,000).
- The mountain regions in the east along the Cameroon border in Taraba and Adamawa states. This is the home of numerous peoples, some scarcely affected by the modern world and deeply trapped in the fearful world of spirits and ancestors. Over 50 peoples live in the area, many unreached. Pray especially for pioneer ongoing outreach to the seven tribes of the Mumuye (625,000, 50% or more of whom follow African traditional religions), the Chamba (150,000) and Bata (150,000).
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Content taken or adapted from Operation World, 7th Edition (2010) and Pray for the World (2015). Both books are published by InterVarsity Press. All rights reserved.