Lindsey Snyder, Take Heart Communications Coordinator, shares a reflection on the martyrdom of a Nigerian pastor.
Content Warning: This blog post contains mention of graphic persecution and one photo implying a beheading.
I did not expect to stay in bed until 11 am.
I did not expect to have such a hard time getting started with my day.
I did not expect the Take Heart What’s App group message notification to be anything but an announcement about logistics for an upcoming staff retreat.
I did not expect to see a video of an Islamic group beheading a Nigerian brother in Christ.
In John 16:33, Jesus says, “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
What, indeed, should I expect?
At first, I didn’t know what the content of the video was. I had not read the text explaining the video and naively thought to myself, “I think I can handle watching whatever this is.” When I looked closer, everything changed.
Suddenly I noticed that this was the Nigerian pastor the Take Heart team along with many Christians around the world had been praying for Boko Haram to release from captivity. This pastor, Lawan Andimi, had posted a video while in captivity thanking and praising God and asking others not to worry about him. Not long after, we heard the news of his martyrdom and we all prayed for comfort for Pastor Andimi’s family and friends. This week, the killers broadcast the video of Pastor Andimi’s death to all Nigerian Christian institutions.
Today I sit in shock and grief, typing what feel like stale words thousands of miles away from such severe persecution.
In the United States, it is reasonable to expect we will likely not be beheaded for our faith in Jesus. In many other places, including Nigeria, our siblings in Christ live in constant danger of such things. Extreme persecution is expected.
Lament and righteous anger are appropriate responses to Lawan Andimi’s martyrdom. May we never rush through those emotions and fail to process the gravity of these injustices. There is a time to take heart, resting in the peace Jesus gives. There is also a time to grieve.
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus proclaims that mourning is an appropriate response to suffering, and that God cares about our comfort: “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”
- Cry out with us for comfort for Pastor Lawan Andimi’s family and friends.
- Pray for peace that transcends understanding and for the Gospel message to prevail amidst severe persecution.
- Ask God to bless Take Heart’s commitment to come alongside our persecuted brothers and sisters in Christ in Nigeria with a holistic plan to address all causes and effects of persecution.
- Pray our Nigerian siblings in Christ would know that they are never alone.
Let’s expect God to respond in kindness and comfort on behalf of His people.