Friday, April 2, 2010

Prayer for Peace--April 1

"By his wounds we are healed." Isaiah 53.5

Dear Friends in Christ,

We have just received word of a special prayer meeting to support peace efforts in the Jos area, Plateau State (Nigeria), to be held in Bukuru, just outside Jos, on 1st April, and would ask that you join in prayer for these efforts for peace.

A terrible massacre took place close to Bukuru, home of the Theological College of Northern Nigeria (where most of the students we supervise are on faculty), during the night of March 6. Three Christian villages of the Birom, the largest tribe in the Jos area, were attacked by what are reported to be Fulani (nomadic Muslim) herdsmen. Hardly a week later there were more killings in another village not far away. In these incidents men, women and children were brutally slaughtered, some 300-500 in the first, 13 in the second. From eye-witnesses we hear of merciless use of weapons of violence, machetes and guns.

The killings were supposedly a taking of revenge for Berom attacks on Muslim villages during the January riots, when Muslims attacked Christians and burned churches and property in Jos. "Christians," especially those from the Birom ethnic group, retaliated.

Jos itself remains quiet, if tense, under strict curfew since the January troubles. The city has a considerable police/military presence. Outlying villages cannot be protected in this way, and are far more vulnerable to retaliatory attacks.

*It is vital that we pray for both Christians and Muslims in these conflict situations. The current troubles are not just an expression of religious hatred and intolerance; the causes are complex and deep-seated, involving ethnic rivalry, competition for land, and political allegiance.

*Pray for continued peace, for all efforts to maintain peace, and to work for reconciliation; pray that somehow the cycle of violence can be broken.

*Pray that the Christian community will remain watchful and careful without resorting to retaliatory violence. Pray also that church leaders will not feed into the desire for revenge, but will set an example in wise behavior, refusing to act on rumor or tribal agenda.

*Pray that the truth may get a hearing in these contexts. There is so much suspicion, mutual distrust and fear. Often it is fed by the circulation of hasty text messages and rumor-mongering, passing on information which only foments jealousy and hatred.

*Pray for the safety of our colleagues at the university and at the seminaries, missionaries, faculty and students. Pray especially for safety in travel in and around Jos.

*Pray that a sense of justice and fairness may return to this situation. Pray that police and military intervention may be vigilant, impartial, acting with integrity and justice in dealing with perpetrators of violence.

*Pray for our colleagues, as educators; we ask special prayers for IICS/CSI colleagues, the McCains, Wiebes, Lillos, Yilpets and Katrina Korb. It is difficult to concentrate on meaningful academic work in a context of tension and violence.

*Pray especially for political leadership, for the state governor Yang, and for acting President Goodluck Jonathan as he seeks to install responsible leaders. There has been so much confusion about Nigeria's President Yara'dua, who has hardly been seen in Nigeria these last weeks and months. Pray for his health and ability to help bring healing in this situation.

*Pray for both Muslim and Christian families who have been affected by all the troubles of this year. So many have been killed in interreligous and tribal attacks these last weeks. So many are suffering the after-effects, in loss of life, possession and community. May the Lord provide comfort also through those who are working for peace.

As we remember the suffering of our Lord on our behalf, we would ask you to pray with us for those who are suffering in Nigeria, and specifically in the Jos area.

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