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13 May 2014

UK Nigerian pastors join calls to prayer

UK Nigerian pastors join calls to prayer

Screengrab from Boko Haram video. AFP

Christian leaders have voiced their sadness as the search continues for the 200 girls abducted in northern Nigeria last month.

Yesterday, video footage released suggested that many of them had been forcibly converted to Islam.

Pastor Agu Irukwu, head of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) in the UK said to Sky News: "This is probably the saddest thing that has happened to us as a nation. I have a 17-year-old daughter so I can only feel the pain of the parents. The first thing we will do as a praying community is that we will pray and we have been praying non-stop.

"The second thing we want to do is to engage with those here in Nigeria in a practical way to offer help. The third thing we want to do is to be a voice for the people who, in a sense, are voiceless and speak on their behalf, to say this isn't just a Nigerian problem or a West African problem. This has the potential to become a problem for the world. Our hearts and prayers are with the parents and we are hopeful that they can be brought back home."

Today, the Evangelical Alliance has joined forces with the National Day of Prayer and Worship to call on churches up and down the country to pray for their safe return.

Other Christian leaders have also joined in calls for prayer for the missing girls.

Yemi Adedeji, director of the Evangelical Alliance's One People Commission, said: "It has been heartening to see how people from all backgrounds and ethnicities across the world have rallied together, demanding the safe return of 'our girls'. As the Church in this nation, we firmly believe that it is by working together and praying together that we can see what might seem impossible become a reality."

Pastor Ade Omooba, co-founder of Christian Victory Group, added: "Let us use our most potent weapon as a visible act of support for the kidnapped girls, their families, friends, the Church and the nation. We must provide a courageous, compassionate, convicted and clear response. Let it not be said at the end, by the persecuted, that it's not the voice of our enemies that they hear but the silence of their friends."

Convener of The National Day of Prayer and Worship Dr Jonathan Oloyede, who converted to Christianity from Islam, urged Christians everywhere to pray for the girls, their families and Nigeria. "I urge you to use this situation to pray for all those who are persecuted and oppressed based on religion. I join with national and church leaders to condemn this brutal violation of freedom and justice." 

He added: "We pray for displaced communities within Borno state, Maiduguri and surrounding towns. We pray for comfort to all family members in anguish, shock and distress over the fate of their girls. We pray for the Nigerian government and all supporting foreign countries to deploy all necessary resources to find these young people. Pray, pray, and pray again because with God nothing is impossible." 

Pastor David Shosanya from the London Baptist Association and a member of the One People Commission, said he hoped the focussed global attention would serve to bring pressure wherever it might be needed and bring about the return of the schoolgirls.

"As Christians we need to be vigilant to resist any inclination towards feelings of hatred and animosity towards those involved in this inhumane act of kidnap," he said. "We should be praying for the government and security forces as they seek to lead the nation and restore and maintain order in the Northern parts of Nigeria. The safe return of the Chibok girls to their family and homes. For better Christian-Muslim relationships that lead to greater harmony."

Rev Obafemi Omisade, national overseer of the New Covenant Church, said: "The global response has been encouraging, it shows a realisation that it is only by collective will that the menace of global terrorism can be combated. The foremost weapon of Christians is prayers much more so the united prayer of many. Psalm 34:4-6 promises deliverance when we seek and call upon the Lord in times of trouble."

Update: Read about the mass prayer vigil for the abducted Nigerian schoolgirls, held in London on 19 May.

Pray the prayer for the Nigerian captives
Read our Christians called to unite in prayer for missing girls press release
Evangelical Alliance 2 May report: Bring back our girls.