JOS, Nigeria — Islamic extremists captured a pastor and two women Oct. 19 who were traveling from Jos to Gombe, Nigeria, to participate in a church conference.
The kidnappers belong to Islamic State West Africa Province, but the three believers have been held captive by the Islamic group Khalifah Army, according to a Nov. 13 update by Christian persecution watchdog group Open Doors.
In an Oct. 29 YouTube video, the captive pastor, Polycarp Zongo of the Church of Christ in Nations, made an appeal to government and church leaders to help secure the release of himself and the women. False reports later circulated online that Zongo had been released, according to Open Doors.
Nigerian Christian leader Gideon Para Mallam told The Christian Post that the militants had not yet asked for ransom — possibly indicating future plans to kidnap more Christians as they visit family in northern Nigeria in the days leading up to Christmas.
“The church needs to be wise” Mallam cautioned. “We can celebrate Christmas anywhere. Let’s avoid becoming easy prey.”
Nigeria is No. 12 on Open Doors’ 2020 World Watch List of places most difficult to be a Christian and No. 2 for the number of Christians killed for their faith.