Gombe State is one of the Northern States in Nigeria that is facing great persecution by religious extremists. Christians in the State have been denied of their rights as Citizens; freedom of expression, freedom of association, freedom of worship, etc. Christians are being killed and Churches being burnt, civil servants are denied of their promotions. Despite all these, their faith in Christ is being strengthened.
The Voice of the Christian Martyrs has been working tirelessly in different parts of the country (especially the northern states) to put smiles on the faces of the Christians who are victims of the religious extremism.
On July 6, 2015 a remarkable record was placed in the hearts of many children as the Voice of the Christian Martyrs organized a Christmas care programme for the children in the state. The programmed aimed at celebrating the love of Christ and showing this love through distribution of gift items and interaction with the children. The program as scheduled started by 10:00am on Saturday at the CAN Centre Kwami road, Gombe with an opening prayer led by Rev. Ejine Thomas, the PFN chairman, Gombe State. The programme was attended by about 2000 children, parents and pastors. The Voice of the Christian Martyrs was represented at the occasion by young men (Davou Thoma and Danjuma Sinemeh) who have enjoyed scholarship by the mission from their primary school to their tertiary institutions. Many people were thrown into deep thoughts and confusion on hearing that the Voice of the Christian Martyrs came to celebrate Christmas with the children, knowing well that we are still in July and Christmas is always celebrated in December. During the programme, series of songs were played and the children danced to the songs being played by the media crew. The children were excited with the Christmas songs being played while the parent kept wondering why Christmas songs should be played during a time like this, but was later explained by Davou Thoma who told them that Christmas is a time of sharing the love of Christ which shouldn’t be shown only in December period but rather at all times.
In a speech delivered by Rev. Bulama, the CAN secretary Gombe State, he told the parents what the voice of the Christian Martyrs does, their aims and objectives and how they have been helping and serving the persecuted church. He also talked on the mission and locations of the offices in the different northern states. He encouraged and advised Christians to be grateful to God always, no matter the circumstances.
One of the representative of the VOM, Davou Thoma came up and shared with the children, parents and pastors the reason of their coming and why Christmas should be celebrated at all the time. He also shared his testimony of how the VOM has helped him and several others to go to school. Some of the students who were present and have graduated from the Stephens Centre International College instituted by the VOM include; Samaila Isah, Benjamin Bawa and Samuel Lydia, all studying in Gombe State University.
Before the distribution of the Christmas packs, cards with numbers were distributed to the children in order to control and enhance the distribution of the packages. A list of items that were contained in each pack include; Indomie, note book, t-Shirt, bathing soap, pencils, tooth brush, viju milk, Christian story book, biro, football and other stationeries and a bag of rice. The distribution started at the auditorium as sample of 20 packs were distributed to 20 children while the main distribution was done in front of the store where the packages were kept. The children numbered about 2000 at the program apart from their mothers and pastors. After the exhibition, Davou Thoma was interviewed by the staff of Gombe State Television (GMTV). He spoke about the mission, what they do and why they chose July for the Christmas care.
The programme was a great success through which smiles transcend on the faces of everyone in attendance. The parents and pastors were so amazed, inspired and encourage by what they saw and witnessed. During the distribution an interview session was held in order to enable the children, parents and pastors express their feelings and gratitude.
The following are some of the testimonies from the children, parents and pastors.
THE CHILDREN’S TESTIMONIES
My name is Deborah Dantala, I am schooling in Baptist primary school here in Gombe. I am in JSS 1 and I am 11 years old. I came here together with my neighbors. I am so happy to be present at the programme and also to receive Christmas gifts. If I grow up I want to be an accountant.
I want to say a very big thank you to the Voice of the Christian martyrs. I want to say I love all the packages being given to me. Thank you so much.
My name is Lois Stephen. I am schooling at Alheri Secondary School. I am in JSS 3 and I want to be a barrister in the future. I was brought here by my church members. I say may God bless the people that gave us these gifts. I actually like the t shirt and I will want to say thank you more and more.
My name is Patience Japheth. I attend Baptist Academy. I am in SSS 3. I thank God that I am doing well in my academins. I was brought here by my church leaders i.e Bishara Baptist Church and I am very grateful for the gift I received. I love the rice very much because it is my best food. I want to say thank you again.
My name is Emmanuel. I am 14 years old. I am in JSS 3. I was inform about this programme by my church, First Baptist church. My father died before I was born, I really like the football in the package because I want to be a footballer. I want to thank Voice of the Christian martyrs for the gifts they’ve given to us. I pray that God will continue to provide for the mission and the people that are supporting the mission.
My name is Daniel Tanko. I am 11 years old. I am in JSS1. I was brought here by my church. My father died in 2008. I want to be a lecturer in future. Among the packages which I was given, I like the football the most because I love playing football. I want to say thank you, the Voice of the Christian Martyrs for organizing this Christmas program for the little children. God bless you.
My name is Praise Bala Bello. I am 15 years old. I am in JSS3 in Integrity International Academy. I want to be an Electrical Engineer. The dream of becoming an electrical engineer was inspired by the things I involved myself doing such as connection of wire and so on. I was informed about this programme by a friend of mine in school. My mother died in 2012. Among the gifts, I like the football most. I want to say thank you to the organizers of this program for helping us and giving hope to those who do not have father. May God bless them the more in all they do.
My name is Emmanuel Kenneth. I am from Anambra State. I am in JSS2. I was invited here by my church. I want to become a medical doctor in future. I was inspired by the way doctors do things and by the nature of their work. I like the shirt in the packages the most. As a Christian I also want to encourage other Christians to also inculcate the heart of giving. May God bless the organizers of this programme. Thank you.
My name is Biatu Hassan. I am 13 years old. I am very happy for the gifts I was given. I like the T shirt the most. My advice to other Christians is to help other people. May God bless the organization that organized this programme. Thank you.
My name is Israel Hassan. I am in nursery 1. I like the gifts that I was giving to me. I like the football most. Thank you.