Jump directly to the Content
Jump directly to the Content

Sermon Illustrations

Home > Sermon Illustrations

Nigerian Christians Oppose Human Sacrifices

Responding to persistent reports of human sacrifice last August, police raided several shrines of African traditional religionists in Okija, Anambra state, in largely Christian southern Nigeria. The reports had understated the problem. To their horror, authorities recovered more than 80 skulls and 50 fresh corpses. In these shrines, the police recovered three registers. They list 1,258 visitors who had allegedly come to offer human sacrifices in the past five years.

Christians say the raid was an answer to their prayers.

Last Easter, Christians in Okija began praying and fasting for deliverance from the gods of the traditionalists. Ifeanyi Atueyi, a Christian pharmacist, said idol worship had desecrated the land. "We believe that the problems holding us down are these idols, and so we centered our prayers on these idols. I never knew God can intervene so quickly and in this way," Atueyi said. "It is marvelous and very dramatic."

While most adherents of African traditional polytheism practice their beliefs peacefully, a minority engages in ritual killings. Precise figures on the phenomenon are impossible to obtain. However, the BBC reports that police in South Africa estimate that hundreds of children have died so their body parts could be used in potions.

In 2002, London police discovered the mutilated torso of a young boy floating in the Thames. The boy was apparently the victim of a West African ritual for good luck. European authorities say such sacrifices have probably reached double figures across the continent in immigrant communities. Police believe the boy may have been sacrificed to one of the 400 ancestor gods of the Yoruba, Nigeria's second-largest people group.

For Christians in the Idepe and Ogute villages in southwestern Nigeria, February and March every year are anxious periods, when animists hold their fetish festivals of sacrifice, which usually last for 21 days. Minority groups of Christians are banned from worshiping in their churches. Last February 27, animists burned down two churches in the states of Ondo and Edo that defied their ban on church activities. Joshua Ogunele, Anglican bishop of the Ikale diocese, told Christianity Today that traditionalists also burned down two churches in 1999.

Animists say their gods dislike Christian worship during the religious festival. "This is a taboo," the chief priest of the religious group told Christianity Today in Ogute village.

Christians are responding on a number of fronts. Earlier this year, three pastors and twenty-one other Christians from the town of Neke in Enugu state in southeastern Nigeria attempted to expose human sacrifices and idol worship by a traditionalist religious group that has killed at least thirty-two people. For their efforts, they were arraigned before the magistrate court in Ikem town, charged with destroying the shrines where animists made their human sacrifices. Their case is pending.

Last May, Christians held an evangelistic crusade in Neke. They say many animists in the area turned to Christ. But there is much work ahead.

Pastor Joseph Agbo, a native of Neke, told Christianity Today he couldn't even guess the number of people sacrificed in the community.

"It will be like asking me to count the grains of sand on the seashore."

Related Sermon Illustrations

Coma Patient Miraculously Recovers

Lindsey O'Connor was in the midst of a two-month coma, brought on by complications from childbirth. Her family was told to expect brain damage and believed her death was only a matter ...

[Read More]

Power Encounter in Ghana

I once met a brother from Ghana, West Africa, who was completing his PhD in the School of World Missions at Fuller Theological Seminary. During one of his trips home, he attempted ...

[Read More]