Written by: Open Doors SA
Article source: JOY! Magazine 

In recent years, Nigeria has become known as an area of conflict with extremist wars, targeted attacks on religious minorities, and where our family in Christ – especially women and children – experience various kinds of trauma due to this persecution.

“We have different kinds of trauma in Nigeria. We have Boko Haram. We have war. We have ethnic crises. We have religious crises. And everywhere people are traumatised” – Patience*, an Open Doors worker.

“We have different kinds of trauma in Nigeria. We have Boko Haram. We have war. We have ethnic crises. We have religious crises. And everywhere people are traumatised.”

Debora’s story
Like many Nigerian widows, Debora was one of the women affected by the persecution and violence in Nigeria. Debora’s husband was killed during religious violence in 2008 when Muslim extremists opened fire on Christians in her hometown in north-eastern Nigeria.
“When we heard the gunshots, my husband called me, ‘We should go out of the house because they will come and burn us here,’ Debora explained.
“I quickly wrapped my baby on my back. Immediately when we went out, they shot me in my arm. My husband was in front of me. They shot him in the chest, he fell and shouted, ‘Help! I’m not going to live.’

“It disturbed me that my husband was leaving me. He told me that I should take heart, that I should forget about everything. If he had offended me, I should forgive him. But I should not think that he was going to just leave me. God was going to stay with me. And when he finished talking, my husband died.”

Mistreated and abandoned
Soon after her husband died, Debora’s in-laws also began to mistreat her. Nigerian culture dictates that the family of the deceased husband must take care of his wife and children, but far too often families do the exact opposite.

“They tried to make me leave the house where I had lived with my husband so that they could make financial gains with it. So, I gave in and rented another house. My baby and I were paying rent instead of living in our own house.”

Open Doors’ trauma counselling
Many widows face the same fate and they are left to deal with the trauma, loss, and abuse alone. In March 2019, Open Doors opened a trauma care centre in Nigeria, a first in the region! The centre is a place where people who suffer various kinds of trauma can come for extended care to find healing, hope, and peace. When Open Doors heard of Debora’s trials, we got in contact and invited her to attend trauma counselling.

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Touching lives through Christ
“I saw plenty of other widows around me and realised I’m not alone. The way they talked with us and showed concern. My husband’s family never showed any concern. When I sit down, I [always] think to myself, ‘God, You are alive!’

“Whenever I look depressed or when they do not see me for a while, these people from Open Doors call me to ask if I’m alright. They helped me with food. When my baby grew up, they paid my boy’s school fees. They changed my life and they changed my story.”

You can make a change!
With the ongoing violence, kidnapping, and persecution in Nigeria – many women are left alone, traumatised, and without hope.

Stand with persecuted women today by giving a GIFT OF HOPE. For as little as R65, you can help marginalised women learn essential life skills, so they can support themselves and continue to shine their light for Jesus. With your support we can make sure that even though they are persecuted, they are never alone.

Open Doors | Nedbank | Branch Code: 198765
Account: 113 750 4552 (Business) | Reference: JE2001

Open Doors | Absa | Branch Code: 632005
Account: 160 340 568 (Current) | Reference: JE2001

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Date published: 09/01/2020
Feature image: © 2020 Open Doors International | *Name changed for security reasons

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