PHOENIX—Seattle Seahawks left tackle Russell Okung, the son of Nigerian Christians who immigrated to Texas before his birth, tells Breitbart Sports that it pains him to see the slaughter of his fellow Christians by Boko Haram in his parents’ homeland.
“I will continue to pray for those people sacrificing their lives day-in, and day-out for what they believe in,” Okung told Breitbart Sports at Seattle’s Super Bowl media availability on Wednesday at the Arizona Grand Resort.
Boko Haram, roughly translated as “Western education is forbidden,” has killed several thousand people since its 2002 founding, mainly in the northern half of Nigeria. The group’s abduction of nearly 300 schoolgirls last year grabbed international headlines and the attention of first lady Michelle Obama.
“I’m not surprised people are being slaughtered, people are being martyred,” said Okung, a graduate of George Bush High School in Fort Bend, TX. “Our hope isn’t in this world as believers, it’s in the eternity. To be absent of body is to be present with the Lord, so they are dying for something that is real and will last forever.”
Seattle’s first-round pick in 2009 out of Oklahoma State explained, “My message for those dying what they believe in—stay steadfast and God is rooted and has you in his palm of his hand.”
And he has words of encouragement for the Nigerian Christians having their lives ruined by Boko Haram. “This won’t last forever and you will overcome,” Okung said. “Like it says in James, ‘This can only make you stronger.’”
While a lot of NFL players were vocal about the events in Ferguson, MO, nary a loud word from Nigerian players, who are aplenty, about Boko Haram—until today. Okung would like to see more speak out.
“I believe guys should be involved—we have been given a platform to bring about radical change,” Okung said. But not just through twitter window-dressing like #bringbackourgirls.
“You can only do so much putting out a tweet,” Okung said. “My hope is to really become involved and be involved in the right way to see radical change. I’ve been working on that and seeing how that idea can reach fruition.”
Follow Dan Leberfeld on Twitter @jetswhispers