A Nigerian pastor who escaped persecution in his native country told a Michigan newspaper that Boko Haram jihadists set his church and his Christian father ablaze, forcing him and his family to flee to America.
David-Olonade Segun, who served as a pastor of a church in Muslim-majority Nigeria, now lives in Holland, Michigan, where he works and has applied for asylum with the help of local Christians.
Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL)-linked Boko Haram jihadists are known to target Christians in and around Nigeria.
The Holland Sentinel reports:
When [Boko Haram] members arrived at David’s home, they demanded to know where David, who is pastor of the church, was. His father told them he was at the church, but when they couldn’t find him, they burned the church down, killed his assistant pastor and returned to his father.
David said he was told they put two books before him, a Bible and a Quran, and told him to choose. When his father chose the Bible, they poured gasoline on him and set him on fire.
“If they had destroyed everything I owned, that would have meant nothing to me,” David told the American newspaper. “But my father, he loved Jesus, he taught me to be strong. My friend encouraged me that, ‘Your father stood with Christ in the end.’ So that should be strength and encouragement.”
Segun and his wife moved from the Christian-majority south to predominantly Muslim northern Nigeria, where he ran a ministry that included an orphanage, school, and offered support to widows in the country.
After the tragedy in Nigeria, the pastor moved his wife and children to the United States, where they sought refuge, but things have not been easy.
After a brief stay in Chicago, Segun and his family moved to Texas and lived in his friend’s basement.
The pastor started a church in the basement, but Hurricane Harvey came in August 2017 and destroyed his friend’s house, rendering him and his family homeless yet again.
“There was a lot of noise. Then everything went black,” David told the Holland Sentinel. “Then water was gushing into the house. My friend’s house — the roof blew off. … There was pandemonium everywhere. Then God showed us the light. I saw a truck running from the distance with full lights.”
The pastor and his family were forced to overcome more hurdles until they ended up in Holland with the help of the Christian community.
“You know, sometimes, you think of some good things. I think, ‘God, what if [Boko Haram] came yesterday [before the family had left for the conference]?’ This is God’s way of saving us. I think of that, too. … I do pray for Christians in northern Nigeria, because they get killed everyday [sic],” Segun said.
“I give glory to God that I have my life, I have my kids, and I believe my parents, I will see them in that glorious morning,” he declared.
According to Open Doors, a group that monitors the mistreatment of Christians around the world, Nigeria is among the top 15 worst countries for Christian persecution.
“Islam is the dominant religion in the north of Nigeria, while Christianity is dominant in the south,” the group’s 2018 World Watch List notes. “Radical groups, such as Boko Haram and Muslim Fulani herdsmen, violently persecute believers in the northern and Middle Belt regions.”
“In northern Nigeria, Christians are treated as second-class citizens. Christians from Muslim backgrounds face persecution from their own families who reject and pressure them to renounce Christianity,” it adds.