Each day this week Christian Today is sharing stories of persecuted Christian women who have leant on Christ and been strengthened to pull through the incredible hardships they have faced:
Rose, from Nigeria, is bravely bringing up her daughters as a single mother after extremists killed her husband
Matthew and Rose were expecting their third child when, one day in April, a brutal attack on their village in Nigeria left Rose a single mother to her two daughters.
With one gunshot, extremist Fulani herdsmen took Matthew’s life, leaving Rose, 34, to bring up her children alone – all this happened as the coronavirus pandemic sent the world into lockdown.
Rose is one of the women which anti-persecution charity Open Doors UK & Ireland is honouring by celebrating the way they have faced persecution with courage.
On the morning of April 7, Rose got ready for an appointment at the clinic for a pre-natal check-up.
“I woke up feeling very positive and eager for the clinic visit,” she said. “I finished all my house chores and prepared a meal for my husband and daughters.”
But when Rose bid goodbye to her husband that day at their home in Nbra Zongo, Plateau State, there was no way she could know that she would never see him alive again.
That evening it had been Matthew’s turn to patrol the village to check for any signs that would indicate a looming attack from Fulani herdsmen, many of whom have become militant Islamists.
“After the patrol, my husband was on his way back home to the children when he was shot dead,” said Rose.
“Villagers later took me to the place where he was killed. I saw my husband lying dead with the grave already dug.
“My husband died a very tragic death. He was not only shot, he was butchered.
“While we were waiting for the coffin to be brought, I took courage and hugged him. I whispered a prayer to him and then we had to leave that place.
“I held my daughters close and cried.”
But the difficulties had only just begun for Rose. Her in-laws accused her of being complicit in Matthew’s death by first marrying him and then not being around on the day he was killed.
They went to her house, confiscated most of the couple’s livestock, their food reserves and everything else of value.
They left Rose behind alone and empty-handed to fend for herself and for her children.
Right at that time the Nigerian government announced lockdowns to curb the spread of COVID-19. Survival became even more challenging for Rose and her young girls.
“Severe hunger came, and we had no money for food,” said Rose.
“We couldn’t trade anything for money because the markets were closed.
“I don’t even have the strength to do rigorous work to feed my children. We have just been managing ourselves.
“It was mango season, so we fed on the mangoes, but when the season finished we would sometimes we go to sleep without any food.”
While her church did what it could to help Rose, the lockdown had greatly diminished its income and ability to provide assistance. Christians are also often last in line when it comes to receiving government food aid.
But through her relationship with God, Rose is finding the strength to raise her children as a single mother. She said: “I only put my trust in God to see me through. Today we are among the living ones. It’s a miracle.
“Whenever I read Psalm 119:11 – ‘I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you’ – I feel so encouraged despite the situation I find myself in.
“He who watches over the widows neither sleeps nor slumbers.”
Open Doors is working to bring urgent food aid and other necessities to people like Rose – she is one of the thousands of Christians in desperate need of help.
In Nigeria alone, Open Doors has identified more than 9,000 families who do not know where their next meal will come from.
As part of Open Doors’ Rise with Courage week, celebrating Christian women who have come through persecution, the charity is hosting author, speaker and president of the Girl’s Brigade Rachel Gardener in an Instagram Live event on Wednesday, August 19 at 1pm. Follow @opendoorsuk