JOS, Nigeria (Morning Star News) – Muslim Fulani herdsmen killed a father of two in Taraba state whose pastoral ministry had brought education, medicine and clothing to thousands of impoverished people, sources said.
Pastor Joshua Adah was returning to his mission station in Bantaje, a village near Jalingo, from an evangelistic outreach to some villagers when his vehicle broke down after he had gone to some villages for evangelistic outreach, a ministry supporter told Morning Star News. Armed, ethnic Fulani cattlemen had invaded area Christian communities last week.
Joseph Kwaji, a police spokesman for the Taraba State Command, confirmed that Muslim Fulani killed Pastor Adah. Area Christians spoke as if Boko Haram had a hand in the slaughter, as the Islamic extremist group and other terrorists from outside the state have in some cases supported and joined the Muslim herdsmen in their longstanding conflicts with primarily Christian farmers.
“A few kilometer from Jalingo, he had car issues along the Wukari-Jalingo road,” said a supporter of Pastor Adah’s ministry. “He was mercilessly hacked to death by Fulani herdsmen and Boko Haram.”
Pastor Adah is survived by his wife and two children, ages 8 and 6. His widow has said that he was “butchered.” He had left the comforts of city life to start a boarding school in a round hut that provided free education to a student population that grew to more than 400 pupils.
“Not too long after he got born again, he left the comfort and ‘luxury’ of city life for a remote village on a hill without light nor potable drinking water, not even a well in sight,” said the ministry supporter, whose name is withheld for security reasons. “He was there with his humble wife and kids to answer the call of God at this time when larger cities meant ‘greener pastures,’ fatter offerings and sizeable tithes to others doing ministry.”
As funding grew, his ministry (name also withheld) went on to build health centers, distribute clothing and provide medicines and supplies to the poor or whoever needed help, she said.
“He continued to preach the gospel and hold campaigns, not in the urban areas but mostly in rural areas,” she said “I don’t know why God allowed Boko Haram to cut his life short; even when it became dangerous, he refused to get out but kept preaching Christ in villages and areas where many will not go.”
Pastor Adah was a university graduate but decided against pursuing a career in his field after he felt called to pastoral ministry, she said.
“He shelved his qualifications and answered the call,” she said. “He took the gospel to those who never heard, even when many preferred the cities. He shared his meager resources with the poor, he clothed them, he showed love to them. His home was theirs. I can’t keep the tears away.”
She said his death has been devastating for her and other members of the mission.
“I’m still hoping to wake up and realize it has all been a bad dream,” she said. “If only I can see and speak to my friend, my big brother just one more time. You were a rare gem. I remember all the times he prayed with me, encouraged me. I feel so shattered. I am crushed.”
She began praying that the Lord, rather than men, would take vengeance.
“O God, hear my cry from the depths my heart, from my innermost being,” she said. “Arise O Jehovah Sabaoth (Lord of hosts), mighty in battle, and destroy your enemies lest they say, ‘Where is their God!’ My Father, shake the very foundation of Bantaje, for God’s General Joshua did no wrong. Maker of the heavens and the earth, behold your son’s blood has been unjustly spilled; righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne—then do justice, my Father.”
In a testimony he gave to his congregation and posted on his Facebook timeline two months before he was killed, Pastor Adah said he would remain faithful to Jesus Christ till death. In what appears to be his last message to church members, he said he first trusted in Christ in 2000.
“Fourteen years later, I am still born again,” he wrote. “I thank all those who stood and are still standing by me all these years; we will make it by God’s grace. Do not faint, no matter the challenge. God bless you all. I love you, please pray for me.”
Christians across Nigeria responded to news of his death, with many noting in social media that Boko Haram had killed and displaced thousands of Christians in Nigeria’s northeast. Some of the reactions appeared on the slain pastor’s Facebook page.
“He has fulfilled his ministry, he has finished his course,” wrote Mejida Job. “I love you my brother. I know you are with your Lord Jesus Christ.”
Islamists from violent groups have collaborated with Fulani herdsmen in attacks on Christians in Taraba, Kaduna and other states. On Oct. 19, Armed Muslim extremists stormed two churches in Taraba and killed 31 people as they worshipped. Two pastors, one pastor’s son, and 28 other Christians were slain in the attacks in the villages of Gindin Waya and Sondi, Christian leaders said.
Attacks on Christian communities in Wukari Local Government Area since February 2014 have been carried out by Muslim extremists in military uniforms who were members of Boko Haram, according to Christian leaders. Insurgents from Boko Haram, based in Borno state, have reportedly joined ethnic Fulani herdsmen in attacks on Christians in Taraba and other northeastern states.
Some recent attacks, according to Nigerian press reports, have been carried out by Fulani herdsmen who have become members of Boko Haram, which seeks to impose sharia (Islamic law) throughout Nigeria. While ethnic Fulanis have had longstanding property disputes with Christian farmers, church leaders say attacks on Christian communities by the herdsmen constitute a war “by Islam to eliminate Christianity” in Nigeria.
Last year well-armed Islamist mercenaries from Niger accompanied ethnic Fulani herdsmen in attacks on eight towns and villages across four local government areas in the southern part of Taraba, Christian leaders told the head of the state chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria. The assailants also destroyed three church buildings.
Christians make up 51.3 percent of Nigeria’s population of 158.2 million, while Muslims account for 45 percent and live mainly in the north.