Ayuba after his father’s murder: “I have learned to leave everything at the feet of Jesus”

Ayuba*, 23, vividly remembers the day Boko Haram entered his village. In his home region of northeastern Nigeria, everyone knew the threat existed, yet nothing could prepare them for the day when the threat came true.

The day in question, 20 April 2020, was etched in Ayuba’s memory forever. He was only 20 years old.

“Around six in the evening, word spread that Boko Haram was approaching the village. My father asked me to go home and stay there.”

It only took a few hours for the rumors to spread when Boko Haram was already in the village.

“You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good.” Genesis 50:20.

“When we hear one shot, we usually know it’s soldiers. If the shooting increases, we know it is Boko Haram,” says Ayuba.

Ayuba knew that the attackers were very close when he saw the beer keg that had been set on fire. Boko Haram had arrived at the village by ten in the evening.

A brave father

“We started running for our lives,” recalls Ayuba. He hoped his father would follow, but there was no sign of him. Not knowing what was happening in the village, Ayuba and his siblings stopped to wait and pray.

“I started to cry, but someone who was with us encouraged me and told me to pray rather than cry.”

The father had first hidden himself in his sister’s house. There are many Christians in the community, but also many Muslims. All of Ayuba’s father’s half-brothers and sisters are Muslims, as are his mother’s sister and grandmother. Ayuba heard from them that when Boko Haram had invaded the house where his father was hiding, he had been singled out as a Christian.

“They took father outside and put him on his knees. He had repeatedly asked what he was accused of, but did not get an answer.”

The fighters had demanded that the father read a passage from the koran to verify that he was a Muslim. However, he did not try to hide his faith in Jesus. When asked if he was a Muslim or a Christian, he replied that he was a Christian. Hearing this answer was enough for the fighters. They immediately killed the father.

The Lord gave, the Lord took away

Ayuba and the others returned to the village in the morning not knowing what had happened. Everywhere was quiet.

“When we approached our home, I saw three dead bodies on the ground. I recognized my father by his clothes. I fell on my knees beside him and prayed.”

Even in his moment of grief, Ayuba was able to give thanks with the words of Job (Job 1:21): “God, I thank you – you gave and you took away. May my father rest with you.”

Ayuba’s father was not the only one killed by Boko Haram in their attack. About nine people were killed, all of them were Christians. As the threat of Islamic militants in the region continued, Ayuba and his family were also in extreme danger.

“A few weeks after the attack, Boko Haram sent a list to our village of the people they were coming to kill. My name was on the list.”

Ayuba wanted to stay in his home village because he had buried his father there. He was also determined to kill the man who had helped Boko Haram identify the target.

“That was all I could think about.”

In the end, however, Ayuba was convinced that it would be best for him to move with his family to another village. The pastor also recommended that he apply for trauma treatment at the Shalom Center organized by Open Doors partners.

Recovery in a trauma center

As a young Christian, Ayuba took on many responsibilities in his community, which made his life radically different from that of his peers. Now he was also the breadwinner of his family.

At the time of his father’s murder, Ayuba was at an age where persecution can have a particularly devastating effect on a young person’s faith. This can have a decisive influence on the path a young person chooses in life.

If paying for schooling becomes significantly more difficult due to family persecution, a young person may decide that following Jesus is too difficult in his home area and choose an “easier” path.

Trauma therapy is an effective way to prevent this. It can help a young person recover and understand God’s love and omnipotence even in the face of persecution.

For Ayuba, the point of trauma meant change. When asked what was the most important thing he learned there, he said, “Forgiveness.”

Before the trauma treatment, Ayuba was determined to avenge his father’s death, but at the center he gave away the knife he was carrying.

Faith tested but strengthened

The support of Open Doors partners at the Shalom Center had a significant impact on Ayuba’s life.

“People who give good advice are important. They correct me when I’m wrong and tell the truth about life. Finding such people makes recovery easier. To be honest, I don’t know where I would have ended up if I hadn’t come to this center.”

Boko Haram wanted to destroy Ayuba’s faith, but it went as Joseph said to his brothers: “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good.” (Genesis 50:20)

Contrary to Boko Haram’s plan, trauma therapy strengthened Ayuba’s faith. Without the support of Open Doors partners, he would have been misled by his experiences. Now he can help others who are similarly traumatized.

Ayuba asks his global church family to continue to pray. “Pray for us who are experiencing violence here in Nigeria, especially in the northern part of the country. Please pray with us for the end of terror.”

Finally, Ayuba thanks everyone who helped him to recover from the trauma: “Thanks to you, I now have peace of mind. I have learned to leave everything at the feet of Jesus.”

*Name changed for security reasons.

Source: Ayuba isänsä murhan jälkeen: “Olen oppinut jättämään kaiken Jeesuksen jalkojen juureen” | Open Doors Finland

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