SIM Nigeria Responds to Crisis
11 December 2008
Phil Tait, SIM Nigeria Director, writes:
"There has been no further conflict in Jos over the weekend, but things are still tense. There is a strong police and army presence in the city and a curfew is in place from 7 pm to 6 am. The number of people staying in the refugee camps is reducing, but the number of homeless is still huge. Churches from other districts are starting to bring in food and clothing." SIM has a donor project for relief and rebuilding (NG96038).
by Craig Ewoldt, SIM Nigeria Crisis Management Team Member
It has been more than seven years since the first serious crisis erupted in Jos, Nigeria on September 8, 2001. At that time, there was much destruction and thousands were killed. In the years that followed, the city of Jos was beginning to heal, and many hoped, expected and prayed that this would never happen again.
On Thursday, November 27, local government elections were held for all of Plateau State. It was the first time in 10 years for the Jos North Local Government area, due to concerns that an election could provoke a crisis. The voting was conducted peacefully, but at dawn on Friday morning, we awoke to gunshots and black smoke rising from several communities in Jos. There were reports of armed people, some in fake Army uniforms coming in from other states and even from outside the country.
It seems that many people were taken by surprise by the violence which started even before results were announced. During these three days of rioting, churches and mosques as well as many shops, homes and vehicles have been burned. Pastors seem to have been a specific target and several have been killed. Jos is still under partial curfew, but by Monday people began to move around a little. Many are out doing medical relief work, distributing needed food and water, and comforting the grieving. We are thankful that there are no reports of casualties among the mission community.
SIM Nigeria has already begun providing food supplies for some of the refugees. An estimated 30,000 people are reported to be in 13 refugee camps Many thousands more are homeless but are able to stay with friends and families in the community. The spiritual needs are the greatest, and tens of thousands are suffering, grieving for lost loved ones, and worried about their futures. Many are still searching for missing family members and friends. The violence and hatred displayed over the past few days will naturally lead to anger and bitterness. We pray that, by God's grace, people will turn to Christ and be healed and the cycle of hatred and bitterness will be broken. The top three physical needs identified by a consortium of aid agencies are: medical supplies, clean water, and food.
Please pray for:
We thank God for the way that he is already working through his people. ECWA Pastor Joshua and Cecilia Tuwan's home was burned early in the crisis. They lost everything including the pastor's book set that Joshua received at the SIM Pastor's conferences in Jos in 2003. Today he and his wife wept as they received a gift of a Bible and other books which were provided through the gifts of God's people.
SIM Nigeria's Apollo Crescent Compound sheltered several hundred refugees fleeing violence during the height of the crisis.The SIM ECWA Evangel Hospital treated hundreds of wounded people during these last few days. Many other believers have been showing God's grace by nursing the wounded, comforting the grieving and feeding the hungry.
Thank you for your continued prayers for SIM Nigeria and your Christian brothers and sisters in Jos. "He has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us" 2 Corinthians 5:19b, 20a