Thank you for your continued prayers concerning the events that happened in Niger on Saturday, January 17. Below is an update with more information on what happened and how you can pray.
Saturday morning demonstrations around the Grand Mosque in Niamey quickly turned violent. Initially, the demonstrations were in opposition to the President's recent visit to Paris in solidarity in the fight against terrorism. Some took this to mean the President was in favor of the newspaper article making fun of the "Prophet."
Somehow, this anger turned or was used by fanatics to whip up emotions against Christians, bars and western institutions, and all of a sudden reports started coming in of churches being burned.
One by one, updates came in of one church then another vandalized, burned, pastors' houses being vandalized and burned. From 10am to 5pm this went on. The city security was caught by surprise and was not able to respond so the looting and burning continued.
In most cases, no fire trucks or police showed up. The wave of destruction was made up of young adults ages 13-20 years old. They were armed with clubs, machetes and iron bars. They moved from church to bar to church with no resistance whatsoever. Over 40 churches, schools, institutions and bars were burned and vandalized across a city of 1.5 million people. Orphanages and schools belonging to churches were also burned or vandalized.
Amazingly, Christians have shown the attitude of "If the church buildings are burnt, may they be a sweet smelling sacrifice of praise lifted up to the Lord." We are hearing stories coming out of the devastation of God's grace and protection. We have even heard of Muslim neighbors defending church properties from being vandalized or burned.
God is working and His Kingdom will advance. We ask you pray for strength and perseverance for the Church in Niger. Pray for church leaders to know how to respond to this attack with peace and hope. And please pray for the Muslims who bear witness to this, that they may see the praises rising up to Jesus and desire the peace that only comes from the Lord.
Thank you for your prayers as church planters pick up and move forward with sharing the Good News of Jesus, responding in love and not hate towards those around them.