“The parsonage of our church was burned down, but no one was killed at the site. Our new pastor was supposed to move in tomorrow. Soldiers are now protecting the church. Please continue to pray for the wounded and grieving. So much pain and suffering!”
That was the gist of an email from Rev. Albert Strydhorst after violence between Christians and Muslims erupted in mid-January in Jos, Nigeria, killing scores of people.
Strydhorst works for Christian Reformed World Missions (CRWM) in Nigeria. The Christian Reformed Church has approximately 18 personnel, along with their families, living in Jos, making it one of the denomination’s largest mission fields.
The parsonage belongs to an NKST congregation, of which many of the CRC’s missionaries are a part. (NKST is the Church of Christ in the Sudan Among the Tiv, the largest of the three Reformed denominations in Nigeria.) The house was empty at the time it was burned, with the new pastor due to arrive later that week.
The church was subsequently surrounded by soldiers, who protected the property and enforced a strict dusk-to-dawn curfew.
Mike Van Der Dyke, CRC team leader in Jos, reported a heavy military presence in the city and roadblocks along the main roads.
Staff were instructed not to travel into areas of Jos affected by the crisis, to observe all curfews, and to refresh their knowledge of the security measures in place for CRC personnel in Nigeria.
CRWM and Christian Reformed World Relief Committee staff in Jos are involved in church development, evangelism, Christian education, and community development together with Nigerian church partners.