In some parts of the world going to Sunday Mass requires great faith – as it can cost you your life.
For Catherine Ibrahim from northern Nigeria, one trip to church resulted in tragedy for her family. The Islamist militants Boko Haram attacked her village during Sunday Mass, killing dozens of people and torching houses and the church. Her husband was brutally murdered in front of her and her children captured.
Thankfully, she survived and was eventually reunited with her children. Shockingly, this is becoming the norm for so many Christians living in the region.
The violence has left more than 15,000 orphans, 5,000 widows and 2 million internal refugees. Sadly, the situation has been intensified by further attacks from Islamist Fulani herdsmen on Christian communities in Nigeria’s Middle Belt region.
The scale of the atrocities caused by the Fulani has outstripped that of Boko Haram in recent months. Last February and March, they attacked and killed more than 150 Christians – leaving a trail of “blood, death and sorrow” according to Fr Williams Kaura Abba from Kaduna.
In times like this when the Church is being persecuted, it reminds us of St Paul’s sufferings when he said:
“We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed…persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed…” (2 Cor. 4:8-9)