Many of you will have heard by now about the suicide car bombing that took place in our city of Jos this morning. (Click here for the BBC article about the blast.) While violence has been on the rise in Nigeria, this takes things to a different level for us as it happened at a church we see almost every time we drive into town.
Our processing of this tragic event included two worship services. The first was on our compound this morning–an impromptu event pulled together when none of us could leave the compund to attend our usual services. The second was an already-scheduled praise and worship hour this evening. The event tonight was especially powerful for us. Following are some of the lyrics that really moved me (Chris), even to the point of not being able to sing out loud and tears streaming down my face.
“Blessed be your name/On the road marked with suffering/Though there’s pain in the offering/Blessed be your name.”
“And though these are days of great trial/Of famine, darkness and sword/Still we are the voice in the desert crying/Prepare ye the way of the Lord.”
“These are the days of the harvest/The fields are as white in your world/And we are the laborers in your vineyard/Declaring the word of the Lord.”
We feel privileged that the Lord has called us to serve here–declaring the word of the Lord–and though we don’t always understand the circumstances that we find ourselves in, we know that we can continue to praise God and look to Him for support and answers. It’s easier for me to say that than for probably many other brothers and sisters here who lost loved ones this morning, but I think it’s important that I do say it so that the knowledge is ever-present; next time the bomb–figurative or literal–might be closer to home, and the ability to praise God may be much more difficult.
For those who like official statements and/or points to guide your prayers, following is the official statement that our staff released earlier today. Thank you for your prayers!
Around 7:30 a.m. local time on Sunday morning (26 February), a suicide car bomber approached and detonated a bomb outside of a large church in Jos. Initial reports vary, but it appears as though at least five people were killed with others being injured. This attack was then followed by shooting and burning elsewhere around the city in retaliation for the bombing. There are no reports of any Nigeria Group staff that were directly involved in any of the morning’s violence, though most if not all of us have friends or acquaintances who might have been. Please pray for the situation here, and following are a few thoughts to guide those prayers:
· Please pray for those who have been affected by the attack—whether it be through injury, death or fear.
· Please pray for the security forces as they handle the situation and the complex challenges that arise from such an incident.
· Please pray for the people of Jos. Jos has a history of tension which can flare up easily. Please pray for calm and restraint in times like this.
· Please pray for us – and our friends and colleagues living in Nigeria – as incidents like this can cause anxiety and fear. Please pray that the Lord would use us in ways that will promote peace and bring about His message of salvation.