Nigeria Adventist leader says Boko Haram destroyed Adventist church
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Nyanya-Abuja/Nigeria, 24.09.2014 / ANN/APD

Terrorist group burned building in Northeast after Members fled

A Seventh-day Adventist Church official in Northern Nigeria said the the Islamic extremist group Boko Haram destroyed an Adventist Church last month after members fled the area.

The Magar Adventist Church in the Northeastern state of Borno was burned on Saturday, August 23, said Stephen H. Bindas, president of the Northern Nigeria Union Conference, based in Abuja. The incident happened after the congregation’s 67 members left the area to escape Boko Haram’s threats, Bindas said.

Magar is a village near Maiduguri, the capital of Borno state. The Adventist congregation there is one of seven rural churches built in 2009 with funds provided by the denomination’s Global Mission, Bindas said.

Bindas said the whereabouts of many members are unknown. Some went as far as the city of Jos in the middle of the country and are now staying at the headquarters of the North East Nigeria Conference.

“At the moment, the insurgents have taken over their homes, foodstuffs and beddings,” Bindas said in an email. Though none of the Adventist churches in the region had previously been threatened, many other Christian groups are facing the same fate, he said. However, some individual members have had their property looted or burned.

“We ask the world church to remember Northern Nigeria in prayers and to assist in whatever means to restore hope to these fleeing members and their families,” he said.

“The situation in Northern Nigeria shows how a lack of religious freedom can affect the life of churches, and why we must promote and strongly defend this essential freedom before it is too late,” said John Graz, director for the Adventist world church’s Public Affairs and Religious Liberty.

Boko Haram, an Islamist religious sect and terrorist group, believes that Nigeria is run by non-believers, even when Nigeria had a Muslim president. The group's goal is to establish a fully Islamic state in Nigeria, including the implementation of criminal sharia courts across the country. "Boko" means "fake", but is used to signify Western education, while "Haram" means "forbidden", so Boko Haram colloquially translates into "Western education is sin."

Boko Haram was created in 2002 by Mohammad Yusuf (1970-2009), a radical Islamist cleric, in Maiduguri, Borno state, in northeastern Nigeria. [Editor: Anseln Oliver and Christian B. Schäffler/ANN and APD]

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