The journey to the priesthood can be one of courage and challenge in the face of adversity, as ACN staff found out when they visited the Good Shepherd Seminary, Kaduna, Nigeria.
There seminarian Michael Abrak told ACN his story: “I am a young seminarian from Kaduna south. This is just my second year in the seminary, but my vocation has been challenged in some dramatic ways.
“In March last year  my village fell under attack of Fulani herdsmen who invaded villages including my home parish Gidan Waya, killing all who stood in their path for reasons best known to them.
“These attacks have continued on mainly the Christian population who form a small percentage of the northern population. Many have been killed, including women and children, some of whom I know, and many were rendered homeless… Many of the villages occupied by Christians have been deserted. Gidan Waya is now like a ghost town.”
In Kafanchan Diocese, southern Kaduna, 988 people have been killed in Fulani attacks. No fewer than 71 villages have been attacked since 2011, and 2,712 houses and 20 churches have been destroyed. Local Christians have complained about inaction by security forces – and there are even reports of deliberate inaction or even collaboration with the Fulani. Indeed Michael said: “The government seems to be very slow in acting”.
Describing the attack on Gidan Waya he said: “Lives and properties were claimed by these Fulani herdsmen – hundreds of houses were burnt. All these challenged my faith as I kept wondering where was God when all these things were happening.”
Only in his second term at seminary at the time, Michael saw something needed to be done – and considered signing up for the army. “But the counsel the priest gave me dissuaded me from joining the military. He said to me, ‘My son, God allowed you to experience this crisis so that your faith may be strong to encourage others’.” So, with the help of his fellow seminarians’ prayers, Michael rededicated himself to the path of peace and healing – the path of Christ.
“Even though I am still trying to pick up the pieces of both lives and hopes that have been shattered in these attacks, I am praying that God will come to the aid of my home town soon.”
As well as providing ongoing support for the seminary in Kaduna where Michael is studying, Aid to the Church in Need is helping build a new chapel to accommodate the growing number of those following the long path to priesthood.