"Blow up every church" and "kill every Christian" in Nigeria. That was the directive of Abu Musab al-Barnawi to his fellow Islamic militants when he became the new leader of Boko Haram in 2016.
Since 2000, the terrorist group has killed more than 11,500 Christians.
As you prepare for International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church on Nov. 4, pray for the comfort and safety of our brothers and sisters in Nigeria. Ask God to convict the hearts of the Boko Haram militants, and pray that He will use this difficult time to change lives as He did with 20-year-old Emmanuel.
Emmanuel, whose name I've changed to protect him, was raised in a strict Muslim household. When Boko Haram arrived to kill the Christians living in his village, they never dreamed their actions would lead to this young man's salvation.
The terrorists burned houses and killed anyone in their way, including Emmanuel's father. Emmanuel and his mother barely escaped, aided by the help of their Christian neighbors.
Touched by their kindness, Emmanuel listened carefully as these men told him about Jesus Christ. He was struck by the drastic difference between the love and forgiveness Jesus offered and the hate and violence preached by extremists.
When Emmanuel told his mother he wanted to convert to Christianity, she told him he was making a mistake. But Emmanuel had made up his mind. After all that Jesus had suffered to give him salvation, Emmanuel considered it a small sacrifice to risk being estranged from his mother.
Even when Boko Haram singled him out for persecution, Emmanuel stood strong in his faith.