They said it was drought. Climate change. Territorial feuds. But the carnage in Nigeria is none of these things. It's genocide -- and the world isn't even paying attention. In the first half of 2020, 1,200 Christians were killed. They were believers just like us, mowed down at their weddings, burned to death in their beds, beheaded on the side of the road. And yet their cries, "Please help us! The herdsman are coming!" continue to fall on deaf ears.
It has been called a "slow-motion war." But FRC's Lela Gilbert isn't so sure. "A war usually has two sides," she says. "And unfortunately, the Christians in Nigeria are largely defenseless." In a sobering interview on "Washington Watch" about the horrors her research has uncovered, she tells listeners, "The truth is, these jihadis come in in the night. They sweep through communities. They kill randomly. They kill women. They sometimes kidnap young women. They slaughter people and mutilate them, and then kill the men off and burn the villages... They're not even taking over the villages so they have a new place to live. It's extremely violent and extremely terrible."
It's not a war, she insists. "Unless we want to say that we're going to war with our prayers and with our concerns on this side of the world."
In a powerful new paper, Lela talks about the persecution of the Nigerians and what's driving the world's silence. "This has been going on for a long time..." she pointed out. "But it's way worse than it sounds, even from the report today, because there are tens of thousands of Christians that have died. We just don't know the exact numbers, because the records are very difficult to keep."
Like so many activists and churches on the ground, she's appalled that the West can claim to care so much about black lives but leave the helpless Nigerians to fend for themselves. "These black lives matter, too," Lela argues. "And we have to protect them before this country is another Rwanda or another Iraq or another Darfur."
One of the best things anyone can do -- apart from pray, Lela says -- is be informed. "We really need to focus a little more closely on what's going on. I think we need to alert legislators and our leaders and our country that we're concerned as Christians about this." Their stories are grim and harrowing -- but if they can't tell them, we must.
Start by clicking over to Lela's paper, "The Crisis of Christian Persecution in Nigeria."