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Reach the Last: Hausa People Find ‘a Faith Worth Dying For’

16 May 2024

In Hausaland, choosing to follow Jesus is a life-or-death matter.

“If you accept Jesus to be your personal Lord and Saviour, you believe your faith is worth dying for,” said Canon Lazarus Bitrus, a Hausa Christian in northern Nigeria. “You expect to die for it.”

Yet the Word of God is being proclaimed through TWR in Hausaland and Hausa people are responding.

“Please, how can I become a Christian?” wrote a Nigerian listener to Christ to the World in the Hausa language via social media in March 2023. “The teachings are so real. I see truth and hope in this way of life.” 

Hausaland isn’t a country, or a state, or a province. It’s the historic designation for a large region of current-day northern Nigeria in which the Hausa people predominate. Although the Hausa are spread across 16 countries in all, 38 million of the 55.4 million total Hausa population call Nigeria home.

Officially fewer than 1 percent of Hausa Christians are evangelical, according to the Christian research initiative Joshua Project, however some insist that number is larger. Nevertheless what is indisputable is that those living in Nigeria are in, by far, the most dangerous country in the world to be a Christian. According to Open Doors more Christians are killed for their faith annually in Nigeria than in all other countries combined.  


Welcome to the latest installment of Reach the Last, our ongoing series profiling some of the world’s least-reached people groups and how God is using the work of TWR to introduce these groups to the love of Jesus Christ.  


Serious faith 

The persecution in northern Nigeria means that those who choose to follow Christ are serious about their faith, said Joshua Irondi, director of TWR Nigeria.

“Anybody who still decides to be a Christian, I believe they really stand strong, more than in the eastern or southern part of the country, because they know the consequences,” Irondi said.

There’s anecdotal evidence that Hausa people are hearing programming from TWR’s Oasis Transmitter in West Africa and are either choosing to follow Jesus or at least asking questions.

What follows are just a few among many responses from listeners to Hausa-language programmes, all received from Nigeria in 2023:

  • I am following your Bible teachings logically. If I want to become a Christian, what can I do? I will call you also for some questions because my people will not allow me to stay with them as a Christian. – phone call, listener to Thru the Bible.  
  • I am a Muslim, and I want to know more about Jesus. I am happy to hear your Bible teachings and will keep on contacting you for some details. – text, listener to Thru the Bible. 
  • I am a Muslim who follows and enjoys your truthful Bible teachings. I want you to please send me a Hausa Bible. – email, listener to Thru the Bible.  
  • Keep it up as many Muslims are listening. – phone call, listener to Hope for the Hopeless.  
  • We wish to let you know that a listener to your radio programme came to us and gave his life to Christ. We are arranging now to take him through discipleship. – social network, listener to Christ to the World.  


The transmitter 


TWR broadcasts more than 12 hours of programming a week in the Hausa language from its 150,000-watt Oasis Transmitter. That transmitter, which broadcasts in six languages and is dedicated to Nigeria, has only been running since Feb. 1, 2020, said West Africa Transmitting Station Director Garth Kennedy. It took another year to bring it to full power, he added.

It supplements the existing transmitter, which also reaches Nigeria along with eight other countries. But it was broadcasting in 24 languages (now 22), which meant that individual languages were getting only one or two programmes per week. “Nigerians were very vocal about wanting more programmes in their languages,” Kennedy said.  

Because of the distance covered, the AM signal only can be heard at night, Kennedy said. Programmes are aired from 6:30-11 p.m. and from 4-7 a.m.  


The numbers 


Joshua Project counts people groups whose Christian population is less than 2% as unreached, reasoning that at that level indigenous believers lack the numbers and resources to evangelise their own group without outside help. By that measure, the Hausa certainly are unreached.

But Ambassador J.D. Jydson, a Hausa Christian who founded the Hausa Christian Foundation in northern Nigeria, argues that Joshua Project is significantly undercounting the number of Hausa Christians.

“I can take you to a place [in Hausaland] where you can travel more than 50 kilometers (31 miles) [and] you can count nothing less than 50 churches, but you cannot see one single mosque,” said Jydson, whose church uses the honorific title “ambassador.”  

Jydson, whose foundation is not connected with TWR, believes much of the data seen in the West about the Hausa originally come from Muslim sources, who count Christians as “Maguzawas” – infidels. He doesn’t profess to know the exact number of Hausa Christians, but he said he believes it’s about 30% of the population.

In a separate interview, the Rev. Musa Philibus, a second-generation Hausa Christian, affirmed that. “Millions of Hausa people are Christians,” he said. “You will not hear of them because they are not in [political control].” 

Bill Morrison, who manages Joshua Project’s database, said in an email that the data about the Hausa come from the Nigerian Evangelical Missions Association (NEMA). But Bolarinwa Oluwole, NEMA’s director for Monitoring, Evaluation, Learning and Research, said in an email the “working percentage” they are using for the Hausa is 10% evangelical Christians.   

“This conclusion is from a thorough consultation with NEMA member agencies working among the Hausas, which includes Ambassador Jydson,” Oluwole wrote from NEMA headquarters in Jos, Nigeria.

Morrison wrote that neither conclusion is necessarily incorrect but that the discrepancy results from “defining categories somewhat differently.” Joshua Project’s numbers are generally consistent with other sources, such as the International Mission Board, he added.

“It’s not very surprising there is lack of agreement given the complex situation we are in,” he wrote.

The dangers 

Whatever their population, Hausa Christians face life-threatening challenges.

“Churches have been attacked, pastors kidnapped,” Jydson said. “Communities have been displaced, [their people] killed.” 

Kichime Bulus, also a Hausa Christian, affirmed that.

“We are all surrounded by danger,” Bulus said. “People are kidnapped, people are killed, houses burned, churches burned.”  

Just in the first weeks of January of this year, 100 Christians – not necessarily all Hausa – were kidnapped in Nigeria, according to Release International, an English organisation that speaks on behalf of persecuted believers.

Bulus, Philibus and Bitrus were at the home of Pastor Mark Mukan in northern Nigeria, when they were interviewed online recently. Mukan is from the Ngas people group of Nigeria’s Plateau State but is married to Eunice Lantana, who was born and raised in Hausaland. None of the group is connected with TWR but graciously agreed to share their perspectives as Hausa Christians for this article.   

TWR often uses pseudonyms for people serving in sensitive areas. Neither these men nor Jydson sought that. The danger they were in could hardly be increased. They spoke earnestly but matter-of-factly, with no hint of hyperbole.

“The devil has arisen in fury,” Bulus said. “The bloodshed is on the rise. There is no guarantee that when you come into a place you’ll come back.” 

The previous Sunday, Bulus had been in a refugee camp to worship with and encourage the believers there. Those in the camp – one of many for people who fled violence in their communities – lacked sufficient food and other provisions but remained faithful, he said. “The Word of God has been their only sustenance.”

Freeing the girls 

One of the tools used against Nigerian Christians is the abduction of their girls. That got the world’s attention 10 years ago, when 276 girls were abducted from their school in the town of Chibok. The world’s interest has waned, but the abductions haven’t stopped.

Hausa Christian Foundation had its roots in 2017 when Jydson, who is an architect by trade, was asked to help in a village where a 14-year-old girl had been abducted, forced to convert and marry.


By God’s grace and by cautiously bringing in media, Jydson was able to arrange for the girl’s return to her mother. To date, Hausa Christian Foundation has been able to free 24 abducted girls, although the organisation’s mission goes far beyond that.  


TWR’s partners in Nigeria experience the danger. FM stations that broadcast TWR content in Hausa have been told, “If we hear it again, we burn down your station,” Irondi related. “And when they see people tune in to listen to those messages, they threaten them, they attack them.” 

Personnel from Calvary Ministries (CARPRO), an on-the-ground partner in northern Nigeria, move from place to place for their safety, Irondi said. Some translators work outside of their home states so they can’t be traced.


It is against this backdrop that TWR brings hope to the Hausa.   


“Some people are afraid to go to church [thinking] they may bomb the church if they go to worship,” Irondi said. But that’s where radio comes in. “If they are afraid to go to church, they can still tune in to our stations and hear the Word of God.” 


Hausa Christians are sharing that Word creatively, Irondi said. “Some of them, for fear of attack – people are attacking them – they enter into their premises … They lock the gate and then tune the equipment to the highest volume. So, passers-by on the road hear the messages. They are not seeing the people.” 


On the ground 

Irondi distributed Bluetooth speakers that are being used for that purpose. TWR has also been involved in other ways on the ground among the Hausa:

  • Distribution of about 2,800 Hausa Bibles (with the support of the Heralds of Hope ministry) 
  • Radio distribution 
  • Creation of listening groups 
  • Establishing an Every Man A Warrior group in Borno State. 
  • Developing Women of Hope ministries in Borno State and Adamawa State. 


TWR also has brought Bibles and radios to refugee camps.

“Some of them began confessing they thought life was finished for them after they were displaced,” Irondi said. “But when TWR came with Bibles, came with messages they could tune in [to] and listen to the Word, they said hope began to come back to them. … People started giving their lives to Jesus.”  

TWR broadcasts nine programmes in the Hausa language, including The ProphetsThe Way of Righteousness and locally generated programmes about salvation and evangelism.

That’s not the end of it.

“We are preparing another programme called My Story With God, which is a programme of testimonies from Muslim-believer backgrounds,” said the Rev. Abdoulaye Sangho, West Africa director for TWR. “I am confident that this programme will reach many people and touch many people’s lives.”  

People in Hausaland are “brainwashed” to hate anything Christian, Irondi said. But when people have the opportunity to hear the Word of God, they become inquisitive.

“So, I believe the Spirit of God is working,” he said. “We need prayers – seriously, because when the Spirit of God works it opens up the hearts of these people.”