As many of you already know, our Orange Letter Campaign this year is focused on Nigerian widows. I am so thankful for all of you who have participated in the previous years by writing and sending in your prayers and encouragement to those being persecuted around the world. With the help of E3 Partners, we have hand delivered thousands of letters. With this year’s focus on Nigeria, I thought it would be helpful to give an overview. Knowing just a little of the layout will hopefully enhance your letter to the Nigerian widows.
People and Economy
As of 2010, there were 158 million people in Nigeria with a life expectancy of 47 years. There are just over 520 ethnic groups, and the literacy rate is right at 69%. The official language is English although there are 521 different languages. There are 22 languages that have an entire Bible translated for them, 60 languages that have the New Testament and 98 that have portions of the Bible.
Nigeria is highly dependent on income from its export of crude oil and gas. Unfortunately, much of the revenue has been lost through capital flight by multinationals, squandered on prestige projects, and embezzled by a series of corrupt leaders. Corruption is massive in the country. Despite reforms, central commercial banks remain fragile and need stabilizing. Infrastructure is often sagging and the majority live below the poverty line.
Politics and Religion
Nigeria became independent from Britain as a federation in 1960. There are vast differences between the northern and southern regions, with Northern Nigeria being predominately Muslim, and the south more developed and largely Christian. Muslim machinations to extend political/economic control are the main causes of the violence, coups, and civil war.
Nigeria is constitutionally a secular state with freedom of religion. However, the northern ruling elite gives preferential treatment to Muslims and discriminates against Christians. Little has been done to stop the growth of violent Islamic groups or to stop the persecution of Christians in the north. As a result, hundreds of churches have been burned and many Christians killed. Since 1999 Muslim state leaders have imposed Sharia law in nine northern states.
The Nigerian Church
Many prayers have been answered by God for the Nigeria Church. The Nigerian prayer movement is one of the world’s strongest. God has kept the promise of Romans 8:28 by using the political stress and persecution to ignite some of the largest prayer meetings in the history of Nigeria (an estimated 3 million in Lagos). Positive political development and church growth can be attributed to the large movement in the prayer lives of the Nigerians. This prayer effort has also seen some consolidating results in the attempts to strengthen banks and the economy through combating corruption.
There are still some prayer challenges that exist. One is the corruption in the northern part of the nation by self-serving Muslim bureaucratic elites. Prayers for Christians in Nigeria (especially the north) should take into account the need for a good balance of caution and decisiveness to respond to this ongoing culture threat. Pray for the right balance between prudence and ambition.
One other prayer request worth noting is the introduction of Sharia law in the northern Muslim states which is in direct conflict with the federal government. Pray that the violent and hateful nature of Islam is exposed so that there might be many conversions of Muslims. Pray that the authorities respond with their biblical role to punish evil doers.
Please use this small outline and information this week as we focus on Nigeria and the Nigerian widows. The data and information are found in the Operation World book and on their website. If you would like to write a prayer or a word of encouragement to the Nigerian widows please send it here (email@example.com). We have partnered with Uncharted and will see to it they are delivered to the widows in Nigeria.
Remember, you can send your letter to the Nigerian widows to firstname.lastname@example.org.