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Daniel Dogo Awayi pastors a church in Potiskum, a city in the north of Nigeria, where Christians are under attack. Pastor Awayi’s congregation has shrunk from 400 to 100 members. Many Christians have fled the region, but Pastor Awayi remains. He says, “It is better to be in a dangerous place with God, than in a safe place without Him.”
Pastor Awayi was born in a village called Bayara in Eastern Nigeria. He became a Christian in 1980 and shortly after was baptized. He was called into the ministry in 1988 after finishing high school. He received his Master of Arts in Theology from ECWA Theological Seminary (JETS) in Nigeria. Pastor Daniel has served in ministry since 1992 and he is ordained in the ECWA denomination. He has served as a teacher and an administrator at a theological training school in Nigeria, he has also served as a pastor in Northern Nigeria, where severe Christian persecution is still taking place. He leads an NGO called the Cup Bearer’s Restoration Foundation, working with the persecuted church in the North to evangelize and disciple Muslim converts as well as to advocate for and encourage the persecuted Christians. Pastor Awayi has been happily married since 1998. He and his wife have four children.
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Daniel Dogo Awayi, a pastor in the northern Nigerian city of Potiskum, carries a list of the 83 members of his congregation who were brutally murdered in the last two years by Boko Haram, an Islamic sect that has now been designated a terrorist organization. He tells me that he will be bringing his list to Korea when he comes here in two weeks in the hope of helping Korean Christians wake up to the reality that the rhetoric of Islam is very different than the reality. “You now have 140,000 Muslims in Korea,” says Pastor Awayi. “45,000 are Korean, and that number is growing steadily. Many of these Korean Muslims were formerly Christian. They left the church for the same reason some left the church in my country: The church was not carrying the Cross. You may not believe it now, but one day your pastors may be carrying a list like mine.”
Pastor Awayi explains that Nigerian Christians, like Korean Christians, hear messages of prosperity, success, and comfort and are lulled into a spiritual “sleep” where they do not realize the central place of carrying the cross in the Christian life. They are vulnerable to Islam because Islam promises a religion of peace, reverence, and morality, so it is attractive to Christians who are looking for a deeper spiritual experience than they are finding in today’s churches. But then Islam gradually reveals its true character as a violent, intolerant ideology bent on world conquest. Korea, says Pastor Awayi, is an ideal nation for Islam to take root. “Islam looks for countries that value education, morality, monotheism, and family. They see Korea as the perfect country in Asia for expansion. That is why this year there were more than 100,000 applications from young Muslims to Korean universities. Islam is serious about growing in Korea.”
But Pastor Awayi warns that fear and suspicion of Muslims is not the answer. “The answer,” he says, “is remembering the true heart of Christianity, turning away from our own pursuit of success and comfort to walk Christ’s way of suffering love in the world, and reaching out to Muslims and everyone in suffering love. This is where Islam can be a blessing to us: It can remind us that the cross is the central fact of the Christian life for every Christian.” He remains in northern Nigeria, loving his enemies and doing good to those who murdered his congregation members.
Voice of the Martyrs Korea is hosting Pastor Awayi in Korea, where he will be speaking to our Underground University and Underground Technology students, as well as a number of churches and groups during his week-long visit. On Monday April 4 at 7:30PM he will be speaking at our Voice of the Martyrs headquarters in the Mapo neighborhood of Seoul, in a special event open to the general public where a free will offering will be received to support his ongoing work in Nigeria. A press conference will be held at Voice of the Martyrs headquarters on Thursday March 31 at 10AM to promote the special event and enable reporters to interview Pastor Awayi, as well as Dr. Foley and me. (Pre-registration with VOMK by phone or email is required for attendance at the press conference.)
Pastor Awayi’s visit is part of Voice of the Martyrs’ 2016 Martyr’s Spirit Speakers Series, which brings persecuted Christians from the most closed countries around the world to Korea each month in order to keep the Martyr’s Spirit alive in the Korean Church.
Pastor Awayi and our other guest speakers are Christian leaders from Iran, the Middle East, Nigeria, Eritrea, and other countries, currently paying the price for their faith in the most challenging countries on earth to be a Christian. We are bringing them here to Korea not so they can tell us about the hardships they are facing but so they can teach us that receiving and sharing God’s love is worth any amount of human pain and that such love cannot be stopped by any power on earth, including death. Their way is the only true path to deep and eternal joy. It is the normal Christian life.
A brief biography of Pastor Awayi is shown below, along with the dates and names of the other speakers who will be visiting Korea in the coming months. Reporters interested in attending Pastor Awayi’s press conference should pre-register by contacting Ms. Jeon Woo Lim at 02-2065-0703 or [email protected].
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