A call to prayer for Nigeria
NIGERIA - Tragedy has struck Nigeria in that nation’s worst air disaster in two decades. A passenger plane carrying 153 people crashed June 3 on its way from Abuja, Nigeria’s capital, to the city of Lagos. There were no survivors. What’s more, the plane crashed down in a heavily populated area of Lagos and many more people are feared dead.
Archbishop Christian Ekong, president of the Lutheran Church of Nigeria (LCN) reported the news in an email June 4. “It was a painful crash,” he wrote. “We pray for comfort for all who are plagued by this disaster.”
President Robert Bugbee of Lutheran Church–Canada promised prayers for those stricken by the tragedy. “Our loving thoughts are with you and your countrymen as we hear the terrible news of the catastrophic plane crash in Lagos,” he said. “May God give help to all who have lost a loved one, and may He bless those trying to bring healing to the injured.” The Lutheran Church of Nigeria and Lutheran Church–Canada are members together in the International Lutheran Council.
Among the passengers on the flight was prominent Lutheran Church of Nigeria member Professor Emmanuel Obot. Professor Obot was Executive Director of the Nigerian Conservation Foundation, an important Nigerian NGO. Professor Obot was also the son of A.A. Obot, the first black person to serve as principal of Lutheran High School, an educational institution of the LCN in Obot Idim.
During the Nigerian Civil War, Principal A.A. Obot was targeted for political reasons and murdered. While that war ended in 1970, the nation of Nigeria continues to struggle with violence today, often for religiously motivated reasons. The same day as the plane crash in Lagos, for example, a church in northern Nigeria was bombed by the terrorist Islamist sect Boko Haram. At least 21 were killed and 45 others injured. Nigeria is split between a predominantly Muslim north and a predominantly Christian south; Christians in the north are often the target of violent attacks.
Reflecting on the dual tragedies of June 3, and the violence plaguing the country of Nigeria in general, Archbishop Ekong expressed the grief of a nation. “There is so much blood shed in our land, unimaginable loss of life and property.” He thanked Lutheran Church–Canada for their encouragement and for “raising us up to the Lord’s Altar” in prayer.