Hope For Persecuted Christians? Nigerian Pastor, Wife Score Victory After 3 Years Behind Bars

A pastor and his wife have scored a significant victory in Nigeria after being acquitted of wrongdoing based on accusations they kidnapped and proselytized a 12-year-old girl.

Listen to them on the latest episode of “Quick Start”

The exoneration of the Rev. Jonah Gangas and his wife, Josephine, is a rare victory in Nigeria, a place where Christian persecution is rapidly increasing.

According to ADF International, Jonah and Josephine Gangas came under fire after taking in a runaway Muslim girl in 2013 and allowing her to live with them for seven years.

After graduation from secondary school, that girl reunited with her family.

That’s when, purportedly at the behest of a Muslim organization, the couple, who preach with Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA Church), were accused of kidnapping the girl.

They were subsequently arrested in 2020 and imprisoned for three years without bail.

But, according to ADF International, “after many delayed hearings, the High Court of Justice of Kaduna State released their decision, fully acquitting the couple of wrongdoing in a ‘no case’ motion.”

Attorney Sean Nelson said he is “thankful” for the acquittal and that no one should be punished for sharing kindness and compassion.

“For simply helping this young girl, and taking her in during a moment of need, they were punished, prosecuted, and imprisoned,” Nelson said. “We are pleased that the court has sided with Reverend and Mrs. Gangas, and we hope that this decision will positively impact other Christians and religious minorities in the country who are being unjustly punished for their faith, as well.”

As CBN News has reported, cases like this are hardly rare in Nigeria.

In fact, Nelson and ADF International recently sounded the alarm over two universities — one federal and one state — that have reportedly barred Christian students from “being able to use any facilities for worship [or] fellowship.”

“The reason you know it’s discrimination is that … the Muslim students are completely allowed to use all of these facilities,” he said. “They’re preventing Christians from using those spaces, from worshipping on campus, having fellowship; they have to go off campus to do that. It’s just plain discrimination.”

Nelson said such restrictions violate Nigeria’s constitution, which protects freedom of religion and belief.

“When you combine [the college issue] with some of the targeted killings that Christians are facing all across the north — there’s been hundreds of kidnappings recently just the last couple weeks,” Nelson said. “It’s a really horrible situation for them.”

Meanwhile, Open Doors’ World Watch List 2024 placed Nigeria in the sixth spot in its rankings of nations where anti-Christian persecution and discrimination are the worst. A line from a press release announcing the results read, “More than 82% of Christians killed across the globe for faith reasons were in Nigeria.”

Read more about the disturbing persecution issues in Nigeria here.

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