Aug. 4, 2019 | CRUX | John Allen
ROME – Back in the late 1970s, James Wuye was a young Nigerian and fervent Christian believer, who converted to Catholicism and later joined the Assemblies of God Pentecostal church amid his country’s first wave of sectarian violence. He watched as bands of Muslim extremists struck Christian targets, burning schools and churches, and felt helpless as local police and security forces did nothing.
Eventually Wuye, who grew up a “child of the barracks” as the son of an army officer, decided he was tired of waiting. He helped organize other Christian youth into secret paramilitary units, stockpiling weapons and training for combat. Wuye paid a price in the flesh, losing his right hand during a pitched battle in 1992 to defend a church in Kaduna, a heavily Muslim area. Today he wears a prosthetic limb as a result of the injury.
Later Wuye had a second conversion experience and embraced non-violence, going on to found a conflict resolution center with his friend Imam Muhammad Ashafa – like Wuye, a veteran of militia combat. They spring into action whenever tensions flare up, trying to prevent larger-scale conflicts.
While Wuye’s story is inspiring, it’s also exceptional.
Nigeria is not the Middle East – Christians aren’t a tiny minority, they’re at least half of Africa’s most populous nation of 200 million, and their patience can’t be expected to be infinite. If Christians in Nigeria were ever to decide to take the fight to the enemy, the resulting violence could make the Christian/Muslim carnage in the nearby Central Africa Republic, which left thousands dead and produced almost a million refugees and displaced persons, seem a mere spat.