Adamu, 28, bears a scar on the back of his neck where two members of the Islamic extremist group Boko Harm tried to slaughter him.
A member of the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria (EYN) in Gwoza, Borno state in northeastern Nigeria, Adamu told Morning Star News that in April 2013 he was working on his bean farm in Musari village, in the Mungono area, when a member of the insurgent Boko Haram approached him.
“He told me to convert to Islam and join them in waging a jihad to establish an Islamic state in Nigeria,” said Adamu, whose surname is withheld for security reasons. “I told him that I will not renounce my Christian faith in order to embrace Islam. He left me there on my farm without saying anything again.”
Two days later, five other members of Boko Haram showed up. The insurgency is fighting to impose strict sharia (Islamic law) throughout Nigeria.
“They said their member told them that I refused to renounce being a Christian and wanted to know whether it is true that I refused to become a Muslim,” Adamu said, adding that he told them it was true. “They then told me that since I refused to recant, they would kill me.”
When he refused their order to lie down, they seized him and tied his hands and legs behind his back, he said.
“They pinned me down and told me they will make death painful and slow, as they are not prepared to waste their bullets on me,” he said. “They also said they would not give me the honor of slaughtering me by cutting my neck from the front, because that is the way they slaughter their rams.
“They forced me down on my stomach and then proceeded to slaughter me by cutting my neck from the back. I was bleeding and went blank as the knife cut through my neck. It was pains I cannot explain to you. After cutting my neck, they left me bleeding.”
Adamu lay there for days, he said, adding that his survival was miraculous; only later would he learn that the Boko Haram members had threatened to kill anyone in the village who helped him.
“It was only after I was taken to the hospital that I was told that the Boko Haram members who attacked me on the farm had gone to the village shortly after leaving me bleeding to death and had warned other Muslims that if any of them dares to rescue me, he would be killed,” he said. “They sternly warned other Muslims in Musari, ‘We have butchered an infidel there on his farm. Be warned that if any of you Muslims dares to assist him, he is also an infidel and we shall make sure that he too is killed.”
Though the villagers were afraid to rescue him, eventually a member of his church snuck onto the farm and found him alive, he said.
“He went back to the village and mobilized some of our church members who came to the farm and took me away,” Adamu said.
They took him to a Christian hospital in Cameroon.
“I was taken to Adventist Hospital, Koza, in Cameroon, and treated for three months before I was referred to this hospital here in Jos,” Adamu said. “The cut on my neck, doctors say, has affected some nerves and veins in my body, thereby making it difficult for me to move my limbs. Right now, I am still learning how to move my hands and legs.”
Adamu said that before the attack on his farm, Boko Harm destroyed his EYN church building in Musari, and all Christians there fled.
“As I talk to you, there are no more Christians in Musari village,” he said. “They attacked Christians and destroyed the church building where we worship. Our pastor and other Christians, about 120 of them, were forced to flee.”
Boko Haram and others killed 1,631 Christians in Nigeria for their faith in the first six months of 2014 – a figure that is 91 percent of the total Christians killed in the country in all of last year, according to advocacy group Jubilee Campaign. Last year 1,783 Nigerian Christians were killed for their faith, according to Jubilee Campaign. The increase in Christian deaths this year accompanies an increase in the total number of people killed during the period, mainly by Boko Haram – 4,099, which is 975 more than the total deaths from attacks by religious extremists for all of last year, 3,124, according to Jubilee.
While Boko Haram (translated as “Western education is a sin”) is the moniker residents of Maiduguri, Borno state gave the insurgents, the group calls itself the Jama’atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda’awati wal-Jihad, translated as “The Congregation of the People of Tradition for Proselytism and Jihad.” The United States designated it as a Foreign Terrorist Organization in November 2013.
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.
Boko Haram violence has increased in number and force since 2009 after it developed ties with Al Qaeda in the Islamic Mahgreb (AQIM). A 29-year-old Christian in Kauri, Borno state who felt the force of Boko Harm weaponry in December 2012 said he would invite his assailants to dine with him.
A married father of three children ages 7, 5 and 1, Ayuba (surname withheld) told Morning Star News he has forgiven the gunmen who shot him three times.
“Despite my ordeal at the hands of these Boko Haram gunmen, I want to assure you that I hold no grudges against them,” he said. “If I see any of them today, I will still welcome them to my house and feed them. Jesus Christ, our Lord, taught us to love those who hate us.”
Ayuba and his wife were working on their farm in the village of Mainari, on the fringes of the Sambisa Forest in Borno state, on Dec. 20, 2012, when he returned to his house to rest. He was surprised to find two motorcycles parked beside his house, he said.
“I parked my motorcycle outside the house too, and then went inside, and just then I heard movement outside the house,” he said.
He went out to find two armed Boko Haram members; they asked him his name. When he told them, they asked if it was true that he was a Christian. A member of the Church of Christ in Nations (COCIN), he responded that he was.
“From their utterances I knew that they must have gotten detailed information about me from our Muslim neighbors in Mainari village,” he said. “Having confirmed I was the person they were looking for, they told that my end had come. ‘You have refused to become a Muslim in spite of all pressure from our Muslim brothers here,’ one of them told me. ‘You have refused to renounce your faith in Jesus. So, we have no option than to kill you.’”
He then recalled that Muslims in Kauri twice had tried to convert him.
“I braced up and asked the gunmen why they want to kill me simply because I am a Christian, and the second among the two gunmen told me that, ‘You are an infidel, and we do not want to have infidels living among us here.’”
They demanded money and the keys to his motorbike. After forcefully taking the keys to his vehicle and removing 35,000 naira (US$212) from his pocket, they told him to lie down because they were going to shoot him, he said.
“Instead of obeying their instructions, I started praying,” he said. “They became angry because I was praying out loud and calling on the name of Jesus. They shoved me in an effort to force me down to the ground. Eventually they succeeded in forcing me to the ground, and then one of them ordered his colleague to shoot me.”
He heard a gunshot, and a bullet pierced his left hand, which he had used to cover his chest, he said. A second shot aimed at his stomach, which he was covering with his right hand. The bullet pierced his right hand.
“To the surprise of the gunmen, they found I was still alive and praying,” he said. “The gunman who gave the orders that I should be shot was angry that his colleague did not kill me in spite of two point-blank gunshots.”
The one who had given the orders angrily cocked his gun and shot at his forehead, he said.
“One experience I will not forget throughout my life is that the bullet from the third shot hit me on my forehead and bounced to hit me on my right shoulder, instead of penetrating through my skull,” he said. “To me, this is a miracle, as I cannot explain how three shots were fired at me at point-blank range, yet I was still alive.”
The two Boko Haram gunmen took him for dead as they rode away, he said.
“After about an hour, my wife returned to find me on the spot where I was shot,” he said. “I still could talk, but the state she saw me in was shocking to her, so she began to cry.”
He asked her to search for help, which did not arrive until five hours later. He had been shot at about 3 p.m., and a neighbor his wife found came to help him at 8 p.m., he said. He was taken first to Kauri, then to General Hospital in Konduga. Doctors treating him there advised that he be taken away lest the Boko Haram gunmen trace him and kill him at the hospital.
His wife and other relatives moved him to Adventist Hospital at Kozat, Cameroon, where he remained for three months before going to an undisclosed town.
Boko Haram has destroyed his COCIN church building in Kauri, he said, and all Christians there have fled.
“Some of our church members died in the attack by Boko Haram gunmen, while others were forced to flee to Cameroon, where they are now refugees,” he said. “I have been praying that these Boko Haram gunmen will eventually get to know Jesus, repent of their crimes against the church, and become the followers of Jesus.”