I’m CSPC member Sabina Ude, and this is how I’m living deeply.
The situation in my home country, Nigeria, has seemed hopeless for a long time, but things really started getting out of hand recently. The presidential election is coming up February 25th, and everyone’s afraid. Virtually everyone in the South –my region- is at risk for kidnapping and murder. I can’t tell you how glad I am that my three oldest children and I aren’t there. And yet, I can’t breathe easy- my husband and three youngest children remain in Nigeria. So how did we get to this point? Well, I’m a university engineering professor by trade; more than 20 years ago, my husband and I both earned our college degrees and started our careers (and our family) in the U.S. We lived in Knoxville for five years and became members of CSPC. Then we moved back to Nigeria in 2013- it’s home, and my husband wanted to move back. Last year, though, all the federal universities in Nigeria went on strike for a long time. By the third month, I didn’t see any possibility of it ending soon. Our two oldest kids were in college, so I thought ‘Why keep them here spinning their wheels? We can go back to the U.S. and they can go to college.’ My husband wanted me to take the kids, get them settled, and then come back. So that was my plan: ‘Okay, I’m going to take one month and do that.’ But the plan changed- one month has stretched out to eight. Nigeria has become so risky, unstable, dangerous, and chaotic. A Christian presidential candidate from the South, Peter Obi, is gaining popular support. (Nigeria is divided in half, with the South predominantly Christian and the North more Muslim.) The oppressive government currently in charge doesn’t like that. They want to hold onto power. During COVID, they opened up the border so extremists could come into the country and move weapons down to the South, where they can attack Christians. Some people can’t even go to their farms. I was reading a story today about a husband and wife who were kidnapped from their farm. Two weeks later, their bodies were found mutilated.
Here’s another example of the terror, and this one hits closer to home- it involves my daughter’s friend’s family. They went to a village suburb for Christmas, on January 3rd while they were coming back to the city, the whole family got kidnapped. Suddenly terrorists opened fire on their car and took them into the bush. Hearts pounding with dread, this family passed dead bodies in different levels of deterioration all along; really terrifying. The kidnappers released them after a week, but they had to pay a huge ransom. We were just grateful they were released- they were some of the ‘lucky’ ones. It’s a nightmare. Just before Christmas, a group of extremists was going house to house in one community killing all the males with machetes- even suckling babies. In some parts of the South, people don’t go to church anymore because it’s just too dangerous. Extremists have taken over many of the church buildings. They bombed a Catholic church at one point, and in other churches they’ve interrupted services and just started spraying gunfire. Nobody knows what to do- who do you run to? The military they’re sending down South is often Boko Haram, the terror group you might’ve heard about on the news. Soldiers will claim they’ve repented from past terrorism and joined the military- so they want you to think you have a friend, but no. You call security, they don’t come. There’s nowhere to run. Now, for the election, nobody can trust that voting will be totally safe. The other big fear is the actual outcome. Whoever wins, war is a potential result. But we know it’s not hopeless. I’m part of a ministry team that, since September, has prayed every night. When it’s midnight there, I place the call and we pray for two hours. One of the meetings, we felt we heard the Spirit say, ‘You’re praying for safety and protection, but some of these people don’t even obey God. How can you ask Him to protect those who are against Him?’ So we felt a leading to go from community to community and preach repentance: ‘Repent, so the Lord will have mercy on us and abate this danger that’s very imminent.’ We’re calling people to come to Christ and see if He will answer.
We invite everyone at CSPC to join us in praying for repentance and protection- and we’re also praying for Obi to win the election. If Obi wins and God’s protection is with Nigeria, we’re good. My family, thank God, has not been attacked directly. But with my husband and three younger children (ages 15, 12, and 9) still back home, I’m certainly being challenged to a deeper trust in God through all this. It is very tough, but I depend on Him and I believe He is there to take care of them. If I had my way, I’d bring my whole family back here to the U.S. But my husband, who was here for 29 years, doesn’t want to come back short of war breaking out. He knows things are crazy in Nigeria, but he likes being home- he runs a business there and is doing well. He doesn’t know what he’d do if he came back to the U.S. So I don’t have solid plans for our family- I’m waiting for God to lead. For now, our other three children and I are in an apartment in Knoxville and they’re attending a local college. Sometimes I almost forget we actually came here because of school. Things have gotten so chaotic with the looming election back in Nigeria. In this uncertain season, going to my Father is giving me deepened trust, and even peace. I know Him- He’s a good God, a just God. I know that when you come to Him, His arms are wide open to accept you and whatever’s on your heart. In fact, I said to my husband, my trip back to the U.S. has been a spiritual one: meditating, praying, reading the Bible, and just being in His presence. This Christmas was the best- no Christmas shopping, no choir practice, no pressure of cooking for the whole village. Just quiet, peaceful, and being in God’s presence- the whole thing has just drawn me closer and closer, talking to Him often. I’m at peace because I know He’s a God who answers prayer.