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Bible Institute Cancels Conference Due to Violence

February 26, 2014

Because of recent violence between Muslims and Christians, Crossroad Bible Institute (CBI) has decided to postpone its prison ministry conference for more than 200 pastors set for Akwa, Nigeria in April.

Muslim-Christian violence in the region has been escalating rapidly, including an attack on Tuesday, reportedly perpetrated by Boko Haram (a terrorist group whose name means “Western education is sinful”) on school children in Bundi Yadi in northern Nigeria.

According to the Guardian newspaper, “Militants have killed an estimated 40 pupils in a pre-dawn attack on a Nigerian school, setting ablaze a locked hostel then shooting and slitting the throats of those who escaped through windows.
“Survivors said some of the victims, aged 11 to 18, had been burned alive by the attackers, thought to be members of Islamist extremist group Boko Haram.”
A United Nations humanitarian agency estimates that over 1,200 people have been killed in Boko Haram-related attacks.

Although it has postponed the conference for pastors, CBI will proceed with the opening of its second Nigerian satellite campus, says a press release from CBI, a prison ministry based in Grand Rapids, Mich. that is recommended for support by the Christian Reformed Church

CBI president David Schuringa, an ordained CRC pastor, had appointed Tim Spykstra as an executive ambassador to lead the pastors’ conference scheduled for early April.

Spykstra had also planned to visit CBI’s satellite campus in Rivers State, Nigeria, and to attend the launch of the country’s new campus, located in Akwa Ibom State.

However, a travel warning issued by the U.S. State Department has recommended against all but essential travel. Despite plans to hire a personal security detachment, CBI decided that the trip was unduly dangerous.

“I would have gone to Nigeria in a heartbeat, but the safety of our Nigerian brothers is essential,” said Spykstra, who expressed concern about gathering so many Christian leaders together in one place, where they could be a target for attacks.

“We are confident that postponing the conference is in everyone’s best interest,” said Sandra Chang Raak, CBI’s international coordinator.

Despite the violence, CBI Nigeria carries on its work in the country’s prisons, where prisoners often lack key resources, including mattresses, clean water and Bibles. CBI Nigeria seeks to meet material needs while offering personalized discipleship to prisoners.

Schuringa requests prayers for the Nigerian people. “The violence in the region is a sign that the light of Christ is needed all the more, in prison and in society,” he said.

CBI is a nonprofit prison ministry with over 44,000 students studying through satellite campuses on six continents. The program is provided at no cost to prisoners and their families.