2214) Hostage Proclaims His Faith

By Jayson Casper, January 13, 2020, at:  http://www.christianitytoday.com

Pastor Turns Terrorist Hostage Video into Testimony

Lawan Andimi


     A hostage video released last week by Boko Haram did far more than issue another plea for rescue from a Nigerian Christian.  It revealed a modern-day Shadrach (see Scripture verses from Daniel 3 below), proclaiming his faith in God who is able to deliver him if it is God’s will; but if not, he made clear he is at peace with death.

     “By the grace of God, I will be together with my wife, my children, and my colleagues,” said Lawan Andimi, a Church of the Brethren in Nigeria (EYN) pastor in the troubled northeastern state of Adamawa.  “[But] if the opportunity is not granted, it is the will of God.  Be patient, don’t cry, don’t worry.  But thank God for everything.”

     It is testimony even to his Islamist captors, said Gideon Para-Mallam, the Jos-based African ambassador for the International Fellowship of Evangelical Students.

     “This is completely different from most hostage videos,” he told Christianity Today.  “Andimi appeared as one who has already conquered death, saying to his abductors and the rest of us that he is ready to die for his faith in Christ.”

     Andimi’s home area of Michika was attacked by armed terrorists the evening of January 2, 2020.  Local residents fled into nearby bushes and hills.  “Our people had to run helter-skelter when they heard that the terrorists were approaching the town,” Zakariah Nyampa, a member of Nigeria’s parliament representing the Michika area, told Morning Star News, noting that the army killed several attackers.

     “We thank God for their lives, but the only civilian casualty is the missing pastor whose whereabouts are still unknown.”  Para-Mallam believes Andimi was deliberately targeted.  Well-known in the area, the pastor was also the EYN district leader and the regional representative of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN).

     “To annihilate the Christian faith, there is no better way than to eliminate its prime movers,” said Para-Mallam.  “It is also Boko Haram giving a signal that they are not degraded like the government says, and can still strike.”  Less than a week earlier, 11 Nigerian Christians, seized in neighboring Borno state, were executed by a Boko Haram splinter group now affiliated with ISIS called the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP).

     Andimi followed hostage video protocol and appealed to denominational leadership and the Adamawa governor to intervene for his release.  But showing none of the usual signs of desperation, the pastor made clear his hope lies elsewhere.  “I believe that he who allowed them to act in such a way is still alive, and is able make all arrangements,” Andimi said.  “I have never been discouraged, because all conditions that one finds himself is in the hands of God—God who made them to take care of me.”

     Samson Ayokunle, president of CAN, issued a statement four days after Andimi’s abduction, urging the Nigerian government to take the necessary steps to rescue the EYN pastor and all other captives held by Islamist terrorists.  “If criminals are invading the Christian communities, killing and abducting unchallenged, what do we call it if it is not persecution?” stated CAN in reference to Andimi, noting the subsequent abduction of an additional 41 Christians from the north-central state of Kaduna.

     And the next day, following criticism from the Nigerian government that the Christian umbrella group was politicizing religion, CAN reiterated its position.  “Let the government wake up to its responsibilities and see if we will not stop talking about its failure to protect our members,” CAN stated.

     “We are praying for the government on a daily basis, but that does not mean where the government is failing we should keep quiet.”  Nigeria ranked No. 12 on Open Doors’ 2019 World Watch List of the 50 countries where Christians suffer the most persecution.

     “This is not just a religious issue, it is social justice,” said Para-Mallam, referring also to the nearly two-year captivity of Leah Sharibu, a teenage girl whose perseverance despite persecution has also inspired many Nigerian Christians.  Last March, the Nigerian government negotiated the freedom of 104 Dapchi school girls, though ISWAP held back Sharibu because she refused to recant her Christianity.  “The government must do more to get her out,” said Para-Mallam, who with Ayokunle is critical that the teenager was left behind.  “We don’t want promises, we want her free.”

     There is hope for Andimi, said Para-Mallam, because Boko Haram has released Christians in the past.  However, ISWAP has shown mercy only to Muslim captives.  But until then, the EYN pastor continues his witness.

     “Andimi lives in the light of eternity, which is a sign of his courage,” said Para-Mallam.  “From the lion’s den, he says to death: ‘I am not afraid.’”


Daniel 3:13-18  — Furious with rage, Nebuchadnezzar summoned Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego.  So these men were brought before the king, and Nebuchadnezzar said to them, “Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the image of gold I have set up?  Now when you hear the sound of the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp, pipe and all kinds of music, if you are ready to fall down and worship the image I made, very good.  But if you do not worship it, you will be thrown immediately into a blazing furnace.  Then what god will be able to rescue you from my hand?”  Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to him, “King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter.  If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand.  But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”


O Christ Jesus, when all is darkness and we feel our weakness and helplessness, give us the sense of your presence, your love, and your strength.  Help us to have perfect trust in your protecting love and strengthening power, so that nothing may frighten or worry us, for, living close to you, we shall see your hand, your purpose, your will through all things.

–St. Ignatius of Loyola, (1491-1556)