More than 100 students were abducted from a Baptist boarding high school in Northern Nigeria, where school abductions have become increasingly common. Tragically, the United Nations (UN) estimates that more than 950 students have been kidnapped from the area since December 2020.
In the early hours of the morning on 5 July, armed assailants broke through the walls of Bethel Baptist High School in Nigeria’s northern state of Kaduna, overcame security guards and captured students in the school hostel at gunpoint. The Kaduna State Commissioner of Police reported most of the 135 students abducted that night remain in captivity, with only 25 students and a teacher having been rescued at the time of writing.
President of the Nigerian Baptist Convention, Israel Akanji told Christianity Today that not all hope was lost as search and rescue operations by the Nigerian military were still ongoing.
“We strongly believe that, by the grace of God, these students will safely return to their parents soon,” Mr Akanji said.
General secretary and CEO of the Baptist World Alliance (BWA), Rev. Elijah Brown also spoke with Christianity Today.
“Today is a day of mourning, as we grieve over what is the most serious attack and greatest tragedy to impact the Baptist community in Nigeria,” he said.
The BWA ranks Nigeria as the world’s second-most vulnerable country for Baptists on its latest Baptist Vulnerability Index which assesses four key factors (hunger, livelihood, violent conflict and religious freedom challenges). Nigeria also ranks ninth in Open Doors’ World Watch List of the 50 countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian, and leads the list in the number of kidnapped Christians.
According to the UN Children’s Agency, UNICEF, this was the fourth abduction of students in Central and Northern Nigeria in the past six months alone. The number of mass abductions from Nigerian schools has grown significantly since 2014 when Boko Haram abducted 276 students from a government school in Chibok, northeast Nigeria.
“I urge all of us to advocate, work for strengthened good governance throughout the Middle Belt and to fervently stand in prayer for these young people who are right now living through this horrific trauma,” Rev. Brown told Christianity Today.
“Their release and restoration is the first priority, and our prayers remain with them and their families who are bearing enormous grief.”
Author – Ramona Humphreys