by Ruth Orr
CEDAR PARK, Tex. (BNc)- In 2006 we were set to go into the Anambra State prison where we had 64 prisoners who had studied World Bible School lessons and were ready for baptism. We had long awaited this day.
About then, there was an upheaval in Magdugari, Northern Nigeria. It seems that a school teacher had told a girl to put her Koran up. When she refused, the teacher took the book from her saying she could have it back after school. The teacher gave the book back to her, but that night rioting broke out.
Muslims killed hundreds of ethnic Igbos, destroying their shops, burning to death women and children, and torturing the men.
American newscasts reported this as Muslims killing Christians.
My elders were concerned and asked me to come home. I begged to stay saying I was in no danger, so they agreed for me to stay for a few more days.
Two days later the riots came to Anambra State and the prison in Onitsha where I was working. My Nigerian co-worker Felix called me: “Ruth, something terrible has happened. Now the Igbos are fighting back and killing the Muslims.”
The Igbos were bringing their dead back to Onitsha to bury them, and taking vengeance on Muslims there. Felix told me to stay at the motel.
I was guarded night and day but was never in danger.
Our work never stopped as our WBS students came to the motel and were taught and baptized there.
Mobs went to the prison and broke the doors down. They burned the offices and all paper work. In fact, they burned everything except the new benches for worship given by Church Street, Lewisburg, Tenn.
Rioters forced every prisoner out of that prison. Many refused to go, but they were beaten and made to leave.
Our students were out and scared, and Felix was devastated.
The Lord is always in control. Felix had taught them well and been a true friend. Within two days, some of the prisoners were calling to ask Felix, “What do we do?”
Within a few weeks, 30 of the inmates who were WBS students walked back to the prison voluntarily to continue serving their terms.
To God’s glory, most of them have been freed and only two of those already baptized are still serving their terms.
Later, two more WBS students also walked back to the prison.
One of the returning inmates said, “Before I got myself into prison, I had prayed to God to show me the true church in the midst of confusion. Maybe God made it possible for me to get into the prison that I might find the true church — the church of Christ. I still need baptism so I can be right with God.”
Felix and the governor of Anambra State have worked to get the WBS work in prison back to normal, with more access to inmates.
The prison now has 245 inmates, of whom 89 are students.
We thank God for helping this great work to continue.
Previously published in World Bible School’s Action! and used by permission of the editor John Reese.