Whatever situation the body of Christ is facing today globally is simply an occasion for the expansion of His Kingdom on earth: an opportunity for true witnesses to rise and shine the Light (the life of Christ) to a world immersed in gross darkness.
As we draw closer to the end of the age, forces against the spread of the gospel of the Kingdom in the nations of the earth are becoming intense. Terrorism, insurgency, armed banditry, kidnapping among other security challenges in Nigeria appear to be limiting or even hindering the spread of the gospel among the unreached people groups in Nigeria, with majority of them living in Northern Nigeria.
In recent times, the rate of insecurity in the north has warranted several mission agencies and churches to withdraw missionaries from volatile regions to avoid further injuries and loss of life of missionaries. However, by the power and wisdom of God, experiences have shown the current challenges as occasions for Christ’s name to be revealed and glorified, even in the den of kidnappers. This is the experience of Amos Tada and his wife, missionaries working with Christian Missionary Foundation.
However, by the power and wisdom of God, experiences have shown the current challenges as occasions for Christ’s name to be revealed and glorified, even in the den of kidnappers.
Amos and his wife, Jumai, arrived Nafada, a small village in Adamawa State, North East Nigeria in 2010 as missionaries reaching the Fulani and Lala tribes. After ten (10) years of relentless and fruitful labour in the land, a shocking and devastating event happened on 22nd December, 2020, just few days before Christmas.
Narrating the story, Amos said there was an ongoing conflict between the Fulani and Lala peoples, following the destruction of a farm by some Fulani herdsmen. In response to this, the Poilce sanctioned the Fulani to pay the Lalas the sum of #600,000, which they were unwilling to pay. Instead, the Fulani relapsed to the use of violence against the Lalas, hiring kidnappers to attack them. Following the incessant attacks on the village, the ministry made arrangement for Amos’s relocation to another field. However, just few months to the planned relocation, Amos and his family became a target for the kidnappers. His home was attacked around 1am on 22nd December, 2020.
Amos said, “The kidnappers broke our door to get in, as I also broke the window of my room and escaped through it with the singlet and trouser I was wearing. When the kidnappers entered our room, my wife got up and carried our daughter, Blessing, but they told her to put her down, while they led her out. While one of the kidnappers held her outside, the other went back inside to search the room for valuables and money. They left with all our mobile phones and some of our clothes; my wife is a tailor. After he finished ransacking my room, he entered into the next room where my sister-in-law, who was around for Christmas celebration, was staying.”
The kidnappers went away with everything they could find: phones, cloths money from the family’s tent-making business and other valuables. They also kidnapped Amos’s wife. After about two days of walking in the bush till they got to their camp, the kidnappers contacted Amos to demand for ransom.
“The first thing they said was to ask me if I saw what happened in my house. On affirming this, they told me to be patient that it happened because of the level of corruption in Nigeria, where policemen collect bribe of #50 on highways. Since government officials are not left out in the atrocities, this made them to also indulge in that kind of business to make ends meet. They assured me that they will not harm my wife in any way because they are conversant with their Qur’an, and also familiar with the story of Jesus, which says that Jesus died for believers and will come again to take them to Him.”
Hearing this, Amos keyed into this to preach the gospel to the kidnappers. He said, “I told them that Jesus did not only die for the sake of the Christians, but for all sinners, including them. I told them they just need to repent from their sin and believe in Him to be saved. I told them hell is not meant for human being but for Satan and his cohorts. After sharing the gospel with him, he requested for prayer for them to be able to stop the work of kidnapping. I then told him that I perceived he is a good man, but has been pushed to that type of work due to situation. The man insisted that I should pray for them for God’s deliverance. He said no good man will get involved in the work.
“They informed me that they have no grudges against me, but I should just pay the ransom, and I will have my wife back in no time, even that same day, since they themselves do not desire that I celebrate Christmas without her.”
The kidnappers requested for a sum of one million naira as ransom for Amos’s wife, which was exuberant. While explaining to the wife in their camp the reason they requested for that huge sum, the kidnappers let her know that their family was not attacked randomly, but deliberately because her husband is a pastor. Despite Jumai’s explanation that her Amos was not receiving any salary, the kidnappers were unwavering on their demand.
Meanwhile, God was at work in the midst of the trouble, granting Jumai favour in the sight of the kidnappers, as they cared for her. They provided all she requested including drugs when she complained of ill health. Amos added, “On Christmas day, they bought meat, malt, Peak milk, bread, yam, rice and moi-moi for her. They told her the treatments they rendered to her has not been given to any of their captives before, as some captives are not even offered drinking water. They said they themselves didn’t understand why they are treating her so well.”
Nonetheless, Jumai kept her eyes on the Lord, knowing that though she was in chains, the gospel is never chained. Rather than mourning and begging for her life, Jumai, at every opportunity, witnessed to the kidnappers about the redemptive work of Jesus for the salvation of all man.
Amos narrated, “My wife also took her time to preach to them about the evil they are involved in, which will land them in hell at any time if they refuse to change. Moreover, it was the period of Corona Virus pandemic. After much confrontational and challenging discussions with them, one of them confessed that he does not like the trade, but he is in it because of influence from friends. He said that after they are through with her case, he will return to his hometown in Zamfara State.”
After filling the camp of the kidnappers with the gospel of Christ, Jumai’s captors persuaded her to encourage Amos to pay the ransom so they could both go back to the work of evangelism, as they are known for in the community.”
“When their leader finally returned from his journey to Yola, He called to ask me if I have the money. I informed him that no concession was reached and that the last man that spoke with me even abused me. He then promised to severely punish the man involved which I pleaded against. He then asked me to pay a ransom of #1.5 million. I told him I could not afford it, and I can only give #500,000, which I don’t even have at hand, but will have to go around to borrow even as far as the next village. He later said I should pay a million naira, but I refused and told him not to call me again, as I will be going to Church.
“When he called, after the Christmas service, he asked if I prayed for mama Blessing, my wife, and I told him I prayed for her and for him as well. He asked why the whole village was silent during Christmas festival, and I replied it was because the villagers were sad because of the incidence, as they kidnappers have carried away their mother. Finally, we agreed on paying the sum of #500,000 as ransom.”
However, the kidnappers did not release her without commenting on the Christ-like character of Jumai, as expressed through her meekness and love even in the den, the valley of the shadow of death.
Sharing the final episode of the whole experience, Amos said, “They later called my wife to inform her she will soon be going home and advised her to continue with the good Christian life she is living, as she is different from others that proffer to be Christians. They told her that they noticed that we do not segregate nor show tribalism. They asked that we should not curse them, instead, we should pray for them.”
Is this not what it means to be a true witness? Shining the light of Christ in the most unlikely places! Seeing Jumai’s manner of life even when in the most difficult situation: in the den of kidnappers, they had no doubt that she was a true Christian. They even apologised for slapping her when they invaded the house thinking she would raise her voice to alert the neighbours, but she did not.
Before Jesus departed from the earth, He said that in this world, we would face diverse tribulations, but we should be of good cheer because He has conquered the world (John 16:33). Amidst the terror of the night and the arrows that fly by day, our Lord expects cheerfulness and meekness from His followers as a witness to a troubled world. He himself showed us the example: “He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth; he was led as a lamb to the slaughter, as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so He opened not His mouth” (Isaiah 53:7).
Whatever situation the body of Christ is facing today globally is simply an occasion for the expansion of His Kingdom on earth: an opportunity for true witnesses to rise and shine the Light (the life of Christ) to a world immersed in gross darkness. But how would you respond? As a victim, who has suffered great defeat, or as the victor, with overwhelming victory through the blood of Jesus?
The ransom was paid and Jumai was released and she returned home to be with her husband and children on 25th December, 2020 around 7:45pm. Amos and his wife were relocated afterwards and they still serve as missionaries with Christian Missionary Foundation, showing Christ-like character in their daily life.