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The chilling but inspiring story of a Nigerian Christian family who kept the faith in the face of martyrdom

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© ONG Portes Ouvertes

Manga is a Nigerian Christian who refused to convert to Islam

Cécile Séveirac - published on 01/20/23

After a horrific and brutal attack left several members dead, this family somehow found the courage to hold on to their faith.

Manga is a Nigerian Christian – and God knows, it’s not easy to be a Christian in Nigeria today. A Christian is killed every two hours in that country, considered the most dangerous place in the world for this community. Manga was almost one of the victims. 

On October 2, 2012, the young man, who was barely 20 years old, returned home as he did every night after college. His mother was preparing dinner. It was a perfectly normal picture: a family and a shared meal. Then there were gunshots. It was 7:30 p.m. The men of Boko Haram, an Islamist group that has pledged allegiance to al-Qaeda, burst into the room.

That’s when Manga’s life changed. The jihadists proceeded in the usual way: they took the oldest men in the family – Manga, his father, and his younger brother – out of the house, while his mother and the younger children locked themselves in another room.

“Then they asked my father and both of us if we were ready to deny Jesus and embrace Islam,” Manga told Open Doors. Manga’s father refused.  “Then they told us, ‘We’ll kill you.’ I replied, ‘If you kill us, what will you get out of it?’” 

This response was met with an outburst of violence that would make the three men pay in blood. Manga was struck with a rifle butt, and his father was brutally murdered. “They decapitated him and put his head on his stomach in front of my eyes,” says Manga. “Then they tried to decapitate my brother and left him for dead. Meanwhile, others beat and trampled him.” Manga watched helplessly as his family was slaughtered. Then it was his turn. “They took another knife, with saw teeth, and tried to cut my neck.”

In that indescribable moment of terror, Manga managed to find the strength to pray. “I thought of Jesus when he was nailed to the cross and I made his prayer my own: ‘Father forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.’” The young man continued, “I also prayed with words from Psalm 118: ‘I will not die, but I will live to proclaim the glory of the Lord.’ I didn’t know if I would survive, but I prayed anyway.”

The young man was left for dead, bathed in his own blood, the bodies of his martyred father and his brother before his eyes. As if that wasn’t enough, the men from Boko Haram hung a bomb on the gate of the family home, while Manga’s mother and her youngest children were screaming in terror. They were saved by the courageous intervention of neighbors who managed to break down a part of the wall to get the family survivors out before calling the police. 

Manga and his brother, who almost bled to death, arrived at the hospital. The nurses succeed in saving Manga’s brother. Manga, however, had lost so much blood that the doctors gave up on him. But at that very moment, the electrocardiogram showed that Manga’s heart was beating again. “I realized that I was alive because God had decided it,” Manga says. 

Like Manga, many Christians in Nigeria have been given the strength to bear witness to a hope that inspires and commands respect. “The situation is beyond us, but we know that our God is a living God who can turn things around in the blink of an eye,” he said. “And even if he doesn’t, we will still be faithful to him. So keep praying for us, it is the best thing you can do for Nigeria.” He concluded, “Let’s do our best for God’s work, to honor him with our lives. May the hunger and thirst for God be even greater in your heart.”

Tags:
AfricaMartyrsNigeriaPersecution of Christians
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