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Brutality and Faith

August 2, 2015

Bombing by Boko Haram 4/14/14, Source Voice of America (PD-US federal govt.)

WARNING:  Graphic Images

Below is an excerpt from the August 2015 edition of the Voice of the Martyrs Magazine.  VOM,, is a Christian non-profit serving the persecuted church.

The events described are brutal.  The faith of this 13 y.o. boy stands in sharp contrast.  It should be humbling to the rest of us.

“Danjuma Shakaru’s…face is marked by horrendous scars…and by a beaming smile…He remembers running for his life and then being confronted by some of the more than 1,000 Islamic insurgents who attacked his Christian village, burning homes and killing villagers who didn’t manage to escape…

Danjuma can’t recall the attackers hacking at his left arm with a machete.  He has no memory of them cutting out his right eye.  And he doesn’t remember them cutting off his genitals.

Danjuma is among the thousands of Nigerians who have been brutalized in violent riots, bombings and village raids since 1999, when Islamists began their campaign to establish Islamic [Sharia] law and an Islamic territory in the north.  The Insurgency escalated in 2009 with the rise of the extremist group Boko Haram…

In spite of what he has suffered, Danjuma is certain that God is still in control…Danjuma not only forgives his attackers but almost pities them for the condition of their hearts.

‘I forgive them because they don’t know what they are doing,’ he said, echoing the words of Christ.  ‘If they had love, they wouldn’t behave that way.’

Following the attack, which left 23 villagers dead and 38 injured, survivors began to dig graves for those killed.  Villagers had walked past Danjuma’s body and assumed he was dead, but later they heard him crying and shouting…

Danjuma said his relationship with God has only grown stronger since the attack.  He continues to pray and seek God’s guidance…

[But] Danjuma’s life is much different now.  A catheter extends from his lower abdomen, draining urine into a bag that he must carry as he walks.  He is fully dependent on God, on his mother and on the care of others around him…

‘If they hear the story, they should pray for me – for my [broken heart] and that I have strength to serve the Lord,’ he said…

‘If they find themselves in such a situation, they should embrace God,’ he said, still smiling.  ‘They should believe that the God who created us knows everything about us, so let’s be faithful and let’s be kind…’ “


  1. Q's Corner permalink

    This story smites my heart and conscience! Because I am finding it terribly hard to forgive those who have hurt, shamed, ridiculed, abused me and so much more! My heart is hard. I want to be loved but I cannot truly love others and this leaves me sick with shame. My heart is an angry heart. I am nothing like my Savior, I have tried to walk as He has done, but I keep finding myself failing in all counts.

    This young man and so many countless more have weathered the odds against them, and come out shining amidst their brokenness! What an awesome testimony that they have! Being able to prayer for, love and forgive theor abusers! WOW!

    If only I could get there, to break out of myself and surrender my heart to God as he has. I do not know what it is going to take for me to make that change!? Just today, someone who I love has mocked me, scorned me and laughed at me in derision and I am so angry than I cannot, will not speak to them. Nothing changes. I always react in anger and offense, you would think that I would learn by now that this never helps, it never works, it never solves anything. What I am going through is NOTHING LIKE what these folks have gone through and are going through.

    The shame that I feel is immense!

    • My dear Q,

      I did not post this to cause you distress!? You are being much too hard on yourself. I fall short, as well.

      Good v. Evil

      Danjuma Shakaru is an extraordinary young man. The grace he’s shown is breathtaking, just as was the case with the families who recently forgave the AME shooter in South Carolina. God, I think, is using them all to make clear to this flawed world the difference between good and evil. Forgiveness on such a scale is only possible with grace.

      The Requirement of Forgiveness

      As Christians, we are to forgive others who sin against us and repent (Matt. 6: 14-15; 18: 23-35; Mark 11: 25; Luke 17: 3-4; Eph. 4: 31-32; Col. 3: 13). This is true even if someone sins repeatedly against us (Matt. 18: 21-22, Luke 17: 4-5).

      You raise the question of whether we are to forgive those who have not repented, who actively continue with their abuse of us. Jesus cried out from the cross, “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they do” (Luke 23: 34). Stephen likewise asked God that those stoning him be forgiven (Acts 7: 60). So we cannot withhold our forgiveness (Matt. 5: 22-24).


      But anger by itself is not a sin, Q. It is a normal emotion we all experience. David said, “Be angry, and do not sin. Meditate within your heart on your bed, and be still” (Ps. 4:4). We cannot “force” ourselves not to feel anger. All any of us can do is pray for the grace not to act on that anger…and pray for the welfare of our enemies, assuming God will grant us the strength to do that.

      The Decision to Forgive

      Forgiveness is not a warm and cozy feeling. It is more like the decision to cancel a debt. In reality, the victim is the one being freed to move on with her life – freed from the kind of anger, bitterness, and resentment that can rob her of God’s peace.

      The Process of Forgiveness

      For most people forgiveness is not a once and done procedure. It is a process. Depending on the depth of our wounds, forgiving others can take us a long time. Personally, I still come across “pockets” of unforgiveness. Even when I think I’ve forgiven someone, circumstances can bring a painful or unhappy event to mind. I feel the anger rise again, and must decide anew not to dwell on it.


      I should add that the criminal prosecution of abuse (when it applies) is not, in my opinion, inconsistent with spiritual forgiveness. Prosecution is a consequence of sin, and a way to protect additional vulnerable victims from an offender.


      Which leaves one last question: Does forgiveness necessarily restore trust? At least in human terms, the answer is that it may not. Forgiveness and trust are two entirely different things. That we no longer hold a grudge about the past, does not mean we must throw caution to the winds regarding the future. Abuse is known to escalate with time. A woman is not required to return to an abusive relationship, placing her physical and mental well-being – even her life, and the lives of her children – at risk.

      I would look to Danjuma Shakaru as a Christ-like figure and an inspiration – not a source of condemnation, Q. While you have not endured his pain, neither has he endured yours. There is no calculus of pain. God alone knows what we have been through.

      May He bring you peace.

      With love,


      • Q's Corner permalink

        Oh Anna, thank you for these timely words! These words are sent from My Fathers heart and they have penitrated the hard stoniness of my heart! My heart broke down as these words spoke to the acute pain that I am feeling, I have not been able to cry for so long I cannot even remember the last time.

      • Oh, Q. You make me cry. God knows your pain. He is with you even in your grief. Your life shines forth despite the pain, in fact, because of it. Those who have abused you may not choose to follow the Light. But they will not be able to say at the Final Judgment it was not revealed to them.

      • Lee permalink

        Anna, the “free to be able to move on with her life”… Yes, she “moves on”, but bearing, perhaps forever, losses from which she cannot recover, forever limping, maybe living on half the income she had worked for, or the loss of her home, or a child, or…or…or. These permanent losses are never talked about in discussing “forgiveness”, the abrogation and theft of hopes, dreans, family. There are real and very permanent consequences which the victim will ALWAYS have to bear, that makes forgiveness almost impossible. No one ever talks about this, do they, or those deep, irreparable impediments to “moving on”?

      • You make an entirely valid point. Only those who have suffered greatly, themselves, have standing to address forgiveness. Anyone who urges it blithely (or prematurely) on another is either misguided or insensitive. Forgiveness is certainly not a cure-all. My whole life has been impacted by childhood sexual molestation. I still many decades later suffer from PTSD, depression, and anxiety, among other things. I fight that battle daily. It cost me my legal career. But I no longer spend my life looking backwards. I no longer view myself as insufficient or damaged. And I refuse to be consumed by bitterness. Personally, I do not believe forgiveness for truly grievous wounds is attainable through human effort. It is only attainable through Divine intervention. How else would you explain this boy’s ability to forgive his attackers? For that, however, we first have to “forgive” God.

  2. So well said, Anna.

  3. Good stuff Anna. Almost too sad to read. And we get upset if we have to go to church in the rain or cold…sheesh.

  4. Bless you dear Anna! It looks to me like we are ministering to one another! How awesome is that, I love how God works!

  5. These are modern day heroes of the faith that should serve to remind us all that in the world today there is not only a cross to bear,but a price to pay to be associated with our Jesus.

  6. What a beautiful, considered response to “Q” ‘s heartfelt response to this harrowing post from you, Anna. What an amazing child Danjuma is – he will remain in my prayers.

  7. Q's Corner permalink

    You know Anna, many people through the years have said that I was too hard on myself, but I never knew what they were saying!? So in seeking god for understanding, He changed the wording for me. Instead of using the word hard, He changed it to ‘abuse’. All of the years of abuse from many different people, taught me how to abuse myself. Wow, really?! Now I understand what people meant, when they said that I was too hard on myself. Now it makes sense to me. But, now I have much to UNlearn.

    I thank God, for you Anna and your friendship.

  8. Q's Corner permalink

    Hey Anna, don’t let anyone steal your smile! It is so beautiful! Now how do I know what your smile looks like, well I don’t, but it must be beautiful. good night

    • You are too sweet. :0)

      • Q's Corner permalink

        It worked! I made you smile and that in turn put a smile on my face also! Yes! I do this everywhere I go, and it has worked with many people; I love it!

      • And now you made me laugh!

      • Q's Corner permalink

        Yep, and now I am laughing! It is very contagious, in a good way.

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