by Kelly Ledbetter
The pastor moved his family to the local gendarmerie where he prayed and read the Bible while Muslim protestors looted and burned his church, along with their home attached to the building.
"We lost a lot of things," Issa said. "We were really full of pain. While we're reading the Bible [at the base], we were relieved."
So open was their attitude of praise, one woman who witnessed their reaction accepted Christ.
Even though his parishoners' initial reaction was anger and retaliation, Issa convinced them to forgive their neighbors. At the outdoor service his church held the next day, more Christians than usual attended to show solidarity.
Pastors and Christians in Niger hope that their forgiveness and continued ministry to their communities will show those who burned their crosses and Bibles that Christ's love endures beyond buildings and rituals.
Seven months later, Issa's church has been meeting under a temporary roof constructed next to the burned out church. "We hope to rebuild so that we can continue to show the love of Christ," Issa said.
"We will not stop. We will continue with everything we've got in our heart," Issa said in an online story produced by Samaritan's Purse.
The international relief ministry reported 60 churches burned in four hours in Niamey, the capital of Niger. Within two days, the country lost 70 churches. Only 19 cities in Niger had churches in the first place. The country is estimated to be 94 percent Muslim or more...