In April, Abigail’s* husband was tragically killed in an attack by militant Fulani herdsmen. Crushing worries over survival compounded the grief for the mother-of-one. But thanks to the generosity of Open Doors supporters, a heavy weight has lifted and joy is beginning to return.
Abigail, with her one-year-old daughter, rejoicing over the timely provision of aid
Following the death of her husband in an attack by militant Fulani herdsmen in April – during which most of the family’s belongings were burnt – Abigail not only faced the grief of losing a loved one but the anguish of not knowing if there was enough food the next day to feed her and her one-year-old daughter. And with the economic impact of Covid-19, the future looked bleak.
But thanks to the generosity of Open Doors supporters, Abigail can raise a beaming smile at the provision of three months’ food supply.
It is not the only good news. Abigail and her daughter have been able to return home having been driven away following the attack on Christian villagers in Kaduna State, and Open Doors has also funded fertiliser to assist Abigail in the farming responsibilities that now falls on her shoulders.
“I am really happy!” Abigail enthuses. “I usually have sleepless nights thinking where my next meal, and money for fertiliser, would come from. Then God made a way. I received it today!”
"My heart is filled with joy..." Abigail
The provision of fertiliser could not have been timelier. “My heart is filled with joy because the maize in my farm was stunted due to lack of funds to purchase fertiliser,” Abigail explains. “I am grateful to the people God used to provide for me. May He open more doors for them.
She continues, “I planted rice yesterday and I kept thinking about who will assist me with fertiliser. God used these people to provide for me. And I am very grateful to them.
“They also gave me one bag of rice, maize and beans. It’s what I am using to cook right now – we had no food before now. I am grateful to God and the people He has used. May God bless them. I am really happy – I really am!”
Abigail is one of 9,000 vulnerable Christians in Nigeria in urgent need of help to survive the next few months. In recent weeks, Open Doors partners have delivered aid to not just Abigail but hundreds of Christian families in her area.
Because of your generosity, Abigail’s story has not ended in further turmoil. Instead, it has become a testimony of God’s faithful provision.
*Name changed for security reasons
Comfort and hope can come in unexpected places – even dreams. “My husband came to me in a dream,” Abigail* in Nigeria explains. “He told me not to worry, because he is with the Lord. I told him that I am grateful. I am praying he is with God, in Jesus’ name.”
But the worry is not easy to discard. In fact, the weight on Abigail’s shoulders wondering whether she will have food for her and her young daughter the next day – let alone beyond – has been crushing. The economic impact of Covid-19 has made it even worse, and believers like Abigail are often deliberately neglected when official aid is distributed. This is on top of the grief of losing a beloved husband and being driven away from the place once called home.
In April, Abigail’s husband Geoffrey was killed in an attack by militant Fulani herdsmen on Christian villagers in Kaduna State, one of 12 northern states in Nigeria under Sharia (Islamic law). Sadly, these attacks are all too common.
“We heard a gunshot,” Abigail recalls of the day when tragedy struck her young family. “We are used to hearing the Fulani firing shots, but on that day, we heard many gunshots. We had no idea what was happening. We continued working. Then we heard the shots coming closer, and Geoffrey told me to fetch our daughter, who was napping nearby.
“We continued working for a little while, but then my husband said we should run. But when we tried, we saw that the Fulani were all over. There was no escape. We split up and each ran in a different direction. When I got home, I realised they were there too. Then I found my way to a neighbouring village.”
Abigail hid there until the next morning. By then, she had still not seen Geoffrey, and no one else had either. She continues, “I asked them to check the route to our farm. That is where they discovered his body. They buried him and then informed me that he had been killed.”
The attackers burned most of the houses in the village and destroyed the food. Whilst Abigail’s house was spared, all the family’s belongings were burned.
Abigail and her daughter are staying at a local primary school in the southern Christian region of Kaduna State, which acts as a makeshift camp for those displaced by recent attacks. Hundreds of people, mostly Christians, are currently housed there, waiting out the ‘storm’ in very harsh and uncomfortable circumstances.
“These people’s houses were burnt, their food was burnt, what little wealth they had was taken away,” the coordinator of the camp, Samaila*, explains. The camp only has enough food to provide people one meal a day. The pandemic has created shortages across the country. Samaila continues, “Individuals and NGOs are the ones helping us, because they heard about what happened to our people.”
A tearful Abigail returns to the home she shared with her husband. Dark shadows now puncture the memories of happier times.
“This is Geoffrey’s clothes. And this is his picture. Whenever I see this picture and these clothes, I remember him,” she laments. “It reminds me of the moments we shared together. He is not here for me anymore and I cannot see him again.”
"Whenever I see this picture and these clothes, I remember him.” Abigail
Geoffrey was the family’s faithful breadwinner, always working to provide for his wife and daughter. “He was a caring man,” Abigail reflects. “He used to provide food, and everything else we needed. But now he is no more, we are facing challenges.”
The burden of provision now falls on Abigail. "We are suffering,” she says. Asked about her challenges, one concern predominates: What will they eat tomorrow? And the day after tomorrow? And the day after that?
Official aid is being distributed during Covid-19 – but Christians in central and northern Nigeria are often last in line to benefit from government food and aid. Often, they don’t receive any from local authorities at all – simply because of their faith. And there is little hope of getting a job in the wake of Covid-19. Abigail will work the farm in the hope of a future harvest at least. But it is by no means easy. “I am not used to doing farming, but now I do the job of a man. Honestly, we are finding things difficult, because of the situation we find ourselves in. People are suffering because of what these people did to us.”
Abigail and her little daughter desperately need our prayers – as do all our brothers and sisters in northern Nigeria who have been brutally affected by the ongoing senseless attacks by militant groups, and for whom Covid-19 exacerbates their existing suffering.
Abigail pleads, “I want you to pray with me. Pray for the situation we have been put into. Pray that God will send help to us. Pray that He will protect the only child I have. Pray also that God will help all of us in this difficult time. May God help us!”
Psalm 126:1 says, “When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dreamed.” Dreams and the hope of better days often go together. Your prayers and support can help Abigail and her daughter dream again.
*Names changed for security reasons