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Terrorism in Wusasa

For many years there have been incidents of violence and terrorism in Northern Nigeria that have been perpetrated in the name of religion. For us in Wusasa it has seemed that terrorism is happening somewhere else, almost as if we are immune to such horror. Last year we had our own taste during the Post Election Crisis but it was still an experience that for most of us was remote and still had little effect. But that has changed. Since early this year there have been many churches bombed and lives lost as systematic attacks on Christians have occurred, mostly on Sundays, our day of gathering together in worship. It came to the point where one observer in Jos said, Which church is going to be next? Truly a state of terror had been established. Then it reached Wusasa. On Sunday 17 th June as we were getting ready for church we heard a very large explosion which also shook our houses quite severely. At first we thought it was at the Kufena quarry to the west as they had been blasting the day before and they often do on Sundays. Many students came out of their rooms and some thought the blast had come from the southeast. Then a student drove in the college gate and described the most horrible scene he had witnessed just 300 metres down the road. Apparently a suicide bomber had driven into the closed gate of the ECWA church compound and detonated a bomb. This resulted in the Sunday School building (full of children at the time) being destroyed and a teacher and a child losing their lives. Many were injured and in the church building next door the pastor was just finishing the English service with about 300 worshippers. Praise God that many more did not die as every asbestos ceiling panel was shattered, showering the people below, injuring many. The church building is also badly damaged. For the rest of that day we all consoled each other in shock and then more reports were heard of 2 churches (one Roman Catholic and one Pentecostal) in Zaria and one in Kaduna also being bombed around the same time. Many Christians lost their lives in those attacks. We also heard of reprisal attacks by Christian youth who blocked the highway in Kaduna and set about randomly killing and injuring many Muslims. In both Zaria and Kaduna for a few days there was continuing conflict between Christian and Muslim youths before the police and army were able to gain control. Needless to say the army roadblocks which were removed on Saturday 16th were quickly reinstated. For about 4 days we were under a 24 hour curfew which means we could not leave our homes. There is still a more convenient curfew in place but the roadblocks are still in place and on Sunday mornings the churches in Wusasa area have blocked the road completely.

On reflection, we have observed that even on that Sunday morning while we were shocked by what had just happened we did not hesitate with continuing our own worship service. I did not realise till some time later how bizarre was this behaviour at a human level. Yes, we did acknowledge the incident during our service and prayed for the survivors and the families of those who lost loved ones. But it has now struck me that normal human behaviour would have been to abandon all activities and sit around consoling each other and discussing who should do what. This would have led to exasperation and despair as there is nothing at a human level we can do. However, the Christian perspective is different. I believe that we turned to what we know best - our trust in God. Our faith resulted in us acting, not in an uncaring or cynical manner, but putting our confidence in the Lord because we knew there was nothing else to trust. We turned to him in prayer, in worship and adoration, and in supplication. As well as praying for those so terribly affected by death and injury we also took time to pray for the souls of the perpetrators of terrorism. Our prayer was, and always will be, that these people will realise the evil they are committing, that they will repent and come to a saving knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. Life in Wusasa may never be the same as we are reminded daily of what transpired on 17th June by the roadblocks. We are more vigilant about security both individually and corporately. We have become more suspicious of strangers in our midst. Some have even questioned themselves whether there is a better, safer place to live. But one thing has not changed Gods love for us. We now continue to go about our daily lives in college, teaching, studying, worshipping, meeting together etc. We continue with a deeper appreciation of how much God has done for us in sending His Son to die for us and also how short life truly is. The opportunity to receive Gods gift of love through Jesus can only happen in this life. How we long that all people would know this wonderful gift of sins forgiven because Jesus died on our behalf.