"For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father's family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?" —Esther 4:14, NIV
The news about his death did not come to me as a surprise. He had told me in the year 2007 in Maiduguri, the Borno state capital, that his life was under threat but that he could not run away from the city because he believed God had called him to preach the gospel to his people.
You may ask, "Who is this man of courage who looked death in the face and called its bluff?" He is no other person than the Rev. Faye Pama Musa, the Borno state secretary of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN).
I was in Borno state on a research trip in that year and met the Rev. Musa. We became friends, and I had the privilege of visiting his church in the Wulari area of the city and also visited his house in the GRA, where I met his family. In the period I was in Maiduguri, we discussed extensively about the state of the church in Borno State.
In the course of our discussion, the Rev. Musa shared with me the difficulties they faced in doing Christian ministry in a hostile environment, where Christians are persecuted in all spheres of human endeavor. To be a Christian in Borno state, he said, "is deciding to become a second-class citizen, as even citizens from other Muslim countries enjoy better privileges than those of us who are indigenous Christians from this state."
Disturbed about this disclosure, I decided to carry out in-depth research on this issue. Facts I uncovered at the end of my study tour of the state revealed even more disturbing phenomena. One of the issues I uncovered was the forceful conversion of many Christians in the state to Islam. Second, many indigenous persons of the Kanuri ethnic group who made decision to become Christians were forced to go underground because of persecution.
In fact, I visited one of the underground churches in the city of Maiduguri and met with some of these Kanuri Christians who have been forced out of Borno state because of persecution to live in other parts of Nigeria but only sneak into the city of Maiduguri time to time to fellowship together and pray for their people, the Kanuris, and then sneak out of the state again.
I left Maiduguri with a heavy heart, burdened with the plight of Christians in Borno state. Since then, I kept constantly in touch with the Rev. Musa, always asking after his welfare and other Christian brethren over there. Each time I heard about the murder of any Christian in that state or attacks on Christian communities, I would always phone him to be sure he was still alive.
Then suddenly, 30 minutes after the declaration of the state of emergency by Nigeria's president, Goodluck Jonathan, the Rev. Musa was gunned down by Islamic terrorists, Boko Haram members, who trailed him from his church to his house and murdered him in cold blood and in the presence of his wife and children. His crime? His faith in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and preaching the gospel to lost souls in Borno state.
The bloodshed of Musa and other Christian brethren in Borno state has raised a lot of questions regarding the responsibilities of Christian political leaders in Nigeria to their Christian brethren. Why is it that Christian political leaders have not been able to raise their voices in condemnation of these despicable acts against the church and Christians in northern Nigeria?
One is forced to raise this question because of the deliberate silence that has characterized our political landscape, even as thousands of Christians in the northern part of the country are being killed on a daily basis by Islamic militants of the Boko Haram sect and Muslim Fulani herdsmen.
One noticeable thing is that while the leadership of the Christian Association of Nigeria has become the lone voice in the wilderness, crying out over the persecution of Christians in northern Nigeria, Christian political leaders seem to be more interested in struggling for political positions that would enable them acquire ill-gotten wealth for themselves to the detriment of the religious liberty of their Christian brethren.
While the likes of Senators Bukar Ibrahim and Ali Ndume and Representative Aminu Tambuwal are busy promoting the cause of Boko Haram in Nigeria's parliament, the National Assembly, our Christian political leaders in both chambers are busy doing some mathematical permutations on alignment and re-alignment of political forces in order to strategically place themselves in political positions, come 2015—all in an effort to corruptly enrich themselves to the detriment of the religious freedom of their Christian brethren.
The time has therefore come for us to call the attention of these Christian political leaders to a prophetic warning issued to Hadassah, Queen Esther, by her uncle, Mordecai, when he told her:
"For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father's family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?" (Esth. 4:14).
This prophetic message is today very relevant to our political clime, as just as Haman schemed to exterminate the Jews who were in exile in Persia, so also militant Muslims seeking to establish an Islamic state in northern Nigeria are waging a war to exterminate Christian minorities. Yet our political leaders appear hapless, as the onslaught against the church and Christians continues unabated.
Whatever it is, as Christians we must turn our focus to God at this time, just like the Jews in Persia did. They followed the instruction of Esther and fasted and prayed to God, pleading for deliverance. The time has come, too, for us to turn our faces to God and ask for His intervention in this situation we have now found ourselves in, in northern Nigeria.
Some may say a state of emergency has been declared and President Jonathan has said the war against terrorism is succeeding. But I must warn them to let us not be deceived, as victory over these forces of evil would not be attained through the barrel of a gun. If it were so, the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and in other Middle East countries would have been won long ago. The prevailing situation in these Muslim countries is a clear indication that the only way the war can be won is through divine intervention.
Others say we must embark on an arms struggle if we are to survive the current onslaught by Muslim terrorists, while some others strongly believe we must return to the gods of our ancestors if we are to overcome.
Ethnic and tribals gods can only lead us to destruction, as they are the agents of the devil. If we believe we can overcome our adversities through arms struggle or by a return to the ways of ancestral worship, to those dark days of evil in the lives of our communities, then we are only creating ways for a complete annihilation of ourselves.
The Bible, which is the Word of God, promises us deliverance if only we repent of our transgressions and turn to God in humility: "If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land" (2 Chron. 7:14).
Have we not profaned the name of the Lord individually and corporately? Have we not coveted? Have we not murdered in the names of our ancestral gods? Have we not misplaced our faith on dead gods?
Indeed, if we truly say we are a people called and set aside by God Almighty, then we have no other choice than to hearken to His voice by turning away from evil deeds. We can do this through personal and corporate repentance and by shunning evil ways.
There is no doubt that when we do this, we will experience shalom, the true peace that is only found in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The blood shed by our brothers and sisters will no doubt cause the expansion of the frontiers of the gospel if we submit to the will and sovereignty of our Lord Jesus Christ. Let's do this now, and I can assure you that deliverance for us is on its way.