BOKO HARAM: EXPLORING A SPIRITUAL SOLUTION
About six years ago, I had the cause to do a story on a lady who was doing her youth service in Bauchi State and who was almost killed by religious fundamentalists. Interestingly, the lady who is from Igbo land was the fiancÃ©e of a close colleague of mine who happened to be a Muslim, though not a radical one.
They had gotten along and were waiting for the end of the service year for them to get married. But for God, the marriage would have been an illusion. The lady would have been killed in the wake of the religious riot that engulfed Bauchi State in that year. As I interviewed her that fateful afternoon, she could not control her tears. At a point she began sobbing profusely. I kept wondering why she resorted to tears. I thought she should be grateful for being saved from death. I later found out that it was the image of her close shave with death that kept coming to her memory that made her to cry.
She said amidst sobs that the radicals had poured fuel on her in the course of the riots and were about setting her ablaze when she took to her heels. She ran the race of her life while her assailants would not let go. They kept running after her wanting to strike a match and set her ablaze. But God did not give them the chance. She ran and ran until she landed in the hands of an old man who scared the assailants away and took custody of her until the riots abated.
As she told the story of her escape, she went inside to bring the NYSC regalia which was still reeking with the smell of fuel and said, 'I will forever keep this as a memorial. It will enable me to keep thanking God that my life was not cut short abruptly.' The lady has since been married and doing well with her husband. Her case is just one of the myriad of cases of religious insurgency we have experienced in Nigeria. Religious crisis in the north dates back to the early eighties when the Maitatsine sect took the north by the jugular. But thank God, that sect has since fizzled out. At least they are no longer radical if at all they exist.
But the highpoint of the attack of the religious bigots who are now known as Boko Haram was the bombing of the United Nations House in Abuja thus sending a signal to the whole world that terrorism is here to stay. Several other bombings have followed since then. And now we are grappling with the 12/25 bombings where about 40 lives were lost. Two things crossed my mind the moment I got wind of the 12/25 bombing. I came to a radical conclusion that the masterminds of the bombings were under heavy demonic influence. I also concluded that no amount of security checks can keep them in check if we ignore the spiritual perspective. Of course the security outfits will do well to re-strategize and look for ways of curtailing the wings of these evils. They can only try. There is more that should be done.
More should be done by Christians who have a full understanding of what it means to fight spiritual wars. More should be done because whether we like it or not the incidences of the last few months in our country will make some Christians become wary and wonder what the God of heaven is doing. Some will want to ask why God would allow some hoodlums to take the lives of innocent people in the name of fighting for a cause. I have always contended that there must be something fundamentally wrong with a god that is being defended.
But that is not the point of this discourse. What we should contend with is how to tackle the phenomenon called Boko Haram. The first thing in this regard is to establish the foundation of the problem. And my submission on this is that the elements called Boko Haram are victims of religious bigotry. Religion is evil. It is satanic and counterproductive. It blinds the mind and makes people think from a backward end.
I'm a Christian. But Jesus who is the centre point of the Christian faith did not bring religion to the world. He came to give life and to give it in abundance. Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. Nobody goes to the father except by Him. That is not religion. Christianity is a call to freedom. The difference between Christianity and other religions is that Christianity is not about dos and don't but about a life saving grace. Religion reaches out to God but Christianity is God reaching out to man.
You cannot determine the danger religion could cause. And that is what we are experiencing. In the history of the church, many were killed for daring to declare the saving grace of Jesus. Those who killed the apostles and all the followers of Jesus down the ages were doing so in defense of religion. If you are familiar with church history, you will find out that Roman church was against those who made attempts to liberate the church from ignorance and the spirit of religion.
Apart from being persecuted by the various emperors that ruled the Roman Empire , the Church in the person of the Pope (not present day Popes) also persecuted forward-looking people in the church. They were hacked to death, thrown into lions den and some were burnt alive. Those who killed them did so in the name of religion (for details on how Christians were killed down through the ages read the book, Foxes book of Martyrs by John Fox)
So what do adherents of Boko Haram want? It is simple. They want their faith to be the ruling faith. They want everybody to come to terms with Islam and become Islamists. But their religious mind cannot tell them that it is impossible to convert what they have killed. And they are not to blame. It is the enemy that has blinded their eyes and made it impossible for them to see the danger in what they are doing. If there is any fight the church must fight today it is the fight against the spirit of religion.
The Boko Haram you see today are human beings. They did not fall from the space. But they are being deceived as others were deceived in time past. The whole thing about Boko Haram is indoctrination. It is the spirit of religion that will make a man worship another man and do abominable thing in the name of defending a so called faith. Do you know that education and wealth do not make one free from the spirit of religion? Some of the victims of cults and all kinds of phoney religious groups are educated and wealthy people. The young Mutallab who was about undertaking suicide bombing some years ago was from a wealthy home. The late Osama Bin Ladin was an aristocrat and a wealthy individual. Yet, he was behind most terrorist acts.
So it is not about poverty or that those who do it are idle minds. It is about a religious conviction which has been planted in them right from their youth and some through systematic indoctrination when they were kindergartens.
How do you attack a group of faceless people who are ready to lay their lives for the cause they believe in? That is what makes the Boko Haram phenomenon a bit frightening. But I have a strong feeling that they have just come to the end of the road. This 12/25 bombing is their biggest undoing and they will shortly begin to reap from the whirlwind they have sown if they refuse to repent from their evil.
I can see the empire of evil crumbling in this country. I see the agents of wickedness eating from the remains of their wickedness. I can see sleep disappearing from their eyes. They have murdered sleep. They will sleep no more. Peace will elude them eternally. Their tears will not dry. I see a country where the congregation of evil does not have a resting place. I see a north that is flooded with the light of the gospel. I see many hearts turning to God.
How will these things be? Those who know the truth should go on their knees and pray and call on the true God to deliver the victims of these religious cults that abound all over the world. We need to pray and pray and pray. It is not about rhetoric or trying to find a political solution. It is beyond the human capacity to nip a deadly cult in the bud. It takes God and it takes a commitment on the part of Christians to keep praying and keep holding unto God for He will only do something in response to our prayers and cries.
Osinaike writes from Lagos