Muslims stand with Christians against attacks on churches in Niger
On January 16-17, in response to satirical cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed published in France, extremist elements in the West African country of Niger destroyed churches and Christian homes and businesses in the capital, Niamey, and the regional capital, Zinder. More than 50 churches were burned. Dozens of Christian families were left homeless. The PC(USA) partner in Niger, the Evangelical Church in the Republic of Niger (EERN), lost five church buildings, two manses, and homes belonging to a half dozen member families.
The President of Niger, Mahamadou Issoufou, asked this of his country’s people: “What have the Christians of Niger done to deserve this? Where have they wronged you?” The EERN runs several primary schools as well as a health facility, and although some were also attacked, local Muslim residents came out to protect them. In an incredible show of solidarity, many Muslims stood up to safeguard churches in their neighborhoods and to shelter Christians who were physically threatened.
The PC(USA) has three mission co-workers in Niger, who are in safe locations and are being well cared for by EERN. “We ask Presbyterians to join the EERN as they pray and work for peace in Niger, together with their Muslim neighbors,” said Debbie Braaksma, who heads PC(USA)’s Africa Area office.—World Misson regional liaison, Josh Hekkila
The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) began its relationships in Niger more recently than in some other African countries. Our engagement in Niger involves ministry through mission personnel and through our partner church relationship. The PC(USA) joins its partner in Niger in a holistic approach to ministry that includes education and leadership development, health ministries, community development, evangelism and new church development.
Although 98 percent of the population is Muslim, Niger has remained a secular state and has rejected outside pressure to become a Muslim state. The Christians in Niger have a vibrant faith and ministry to their country as they strive to build the church and the country of Niger.
Niger Partner Church
Eglise Evangelique au Republique du Niger (EERN).
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