Boko Haram and our faith05 Jun 2015, by Augustinians in
Boko Haram has become a household name in Nigeria and, in fact, the world. It is a terrorist group that has terrorized Nigeria and its neighboring countries. This terrorism has set Nigeria backward, especially the northeastern part. I feel pained because many of my Irish and Nigerian Augustinian brothers worked hard in this part of the country to build the Christian faith in the people. The early Irish Augustinian missionaries were specifically sent to Nigeria to plant the Christian faith in these areas; they came, and they did a good job. Many of the Catholic priests from this region had the Augustinian touch in their formation.
About 14 years ago, I was sent to Maiduguri, part of this region that has now been terrorized and harassed by Boko Haram. I was a seminarian then, and my impression of the place before I got there was completely different from what I saw. I thought Maiduguri would be a typical village setting, but I was surprised to discover that the town had better roads and road networks than the place I was coming from. Though the weather was harsh, I enjoyed my stay; lovely people. But that is not to say that there was never a time of tension, there was, just like every other town, but I never imagined it would get to the extent it has reached today. I never heard anything like Boko Haram; I never imagined that St. Augustine’s Parish where I worked would be burnt down someday. Unfortunately, it was, just like many other Churches around the region. Lives and properties worth millions of Nigerian naira were lost.
Though some of these parishes have been rebuilt, the persecution continues. This takes my mind back to the apostolic era when Christians were heavily persecuted for their faith; the more they were persecuted, the faster the Church grew. The faith cannot be killed; two very young Nigerian Augustinians are still in Maiduguri, in the same St. Augustine’s parish bearing witness to the Christian faith and the Augustinian spirituality; they are heroes of our faith and our Order, we continue to pray for them. The same is true of the Augustinians working in other parts of northern Nigeria; may their heroic witnessing be rewarded with divine protection.