Relaymedia

Christian Missionary Kidnapped by Nigerian Cult Shot and Killed After Singing 'Amazing Grace'

( [email protected] ) Nov 27, 2017 09:15 AM EST
A Christian missionary kidnapped in Nigeria was murdered after playing the popular hymn "Amazing Grace" on his acoustic guitar to cheer up his fellow captives, a sobering new report has revealed.
Ian Squire (center) 57, was among four Christian missionaries seized by a gang during a raid in the early hours of October 13 in the country's southern Delta state. He was shot and killed after singing "Amazing Grace."

MailOnline

A Christian missionary kidnapped in Nigeria was murdered after playing the popular hymn "Amazing Grace" on his acoustic guitar to cheer up his fellow captives, a sobering new report has revealed.

Ian Squire, a 57-year-old optician, was killed instantly after being shot multiple times by one of the gunmen that abducted the four-member missionary team from their clinic in the country's southern Delta state on October 13, The Telegraph reports.

Missionaries Shirley and David Donovan recalled how the gunman - a member of the "Egbesu Boys," a cult-like gang named after an ancient war god - opened fire after Squire had finished singing the hymn, written by 18th-century slave trader-turned-preacher John Newton.

"It was the perfect song, and at that point things began to look not quite as bad," David said. "But then, after Ian finished playing, he stood up, and a salvo of gunshots killed him instantly."

The couple said that while they didn't see the shooter, it was clear one of the kidnappers was responsible.

"It was terrifying to see," he said. "We jumped out of the shack and into the water as we thought they were coming for us next, but a member of the gang came and put us back in there with Ian for the rest of the day."

After Squire's death, the group were moved to another shack, and the gang, who dined off roasted monitor lizard, brought noodles and clean water for the missionaries.

During their three-week abduction, the group kept their spirits up by playing a version of BBC Radio 4 quiz The Unbelievable Truth, where contestants have to tell fact from fiction. They would also read a Bible the kidnappers had stolen during a robbery, according to the National Post, and would sometimes engage their abductors.

"They justified their actions by saying that they'd grown up with nothing, and that we were privileged, but we pointed out that some of our own clinic workers had also come from troubled backgrounds," said David, who also offered his captors medical help. "There was a bit of a silence about that at first, but by the end two of them were asking for lessons on the Bible."

Shirley added: "We told them about one of our clinic workers, Jerusalem, who had been a troubled man but had become a Christian and a transformed character. He'd been trained by Ian and could even do the maths for lens refraction. Then one of the guards said 'stop this conversation now'. I said 'why?'. He said 'because you are speaking to my soul'. Jerusalem could have been one of them."

Later, the guards were overheard talking about selling the hostages to Boko Haram, the northern Nigerian Islamist group, Shirley said, adding that "as Christian missionaries our blood ran cold at that point."

However, the missionaries were eventually freed after the British High Commission and Nigerian authorities negotiated their release.

According to the MailOnline, David, 57, and his 58-year-old wife started medical charity New Foundations in 2003 after feeling called by God to leave their comfortable life.

"We had good jobs, our two sons in private schools, and a big house in Cambridge, and pretty much everything we wanted," said David. "But we realized it didn't satisfy us, and that to be true to the Gospel, we had to realign our lives."

The couple decided to open their medical practice in Enekoragha, an area of Nigeria ravaged by bandits and gangsters and bereft of electricity, clean water or roads. The missionaries admitted their faith alone kept them going, as they experienced a series of setbacks, including severe illness and thefts.

David told reporters that he and the other three hostages had been providing "free medical care and religious activities" in the area when they were kidnapped by the Egbesu Boys, a centuries-old cult recently revived by militants and criminal gangs. 

Squire, a devout Christian who had visited Nigeria every year since 2013 to provide medical aid to those in need, was credited with the invention of a portable solar powered frame and lens cutting machine to enable people to make prescription glasses in remote regions.

"Ian was hungry to know more of God and lived his life with that purpose. He wasn't afraid of going anywhere, including being in the Delta," said David. "As well as his expertise as an optician, he also brought a sense of fun - the people loved and appreciated him."

In a statement released by the Foreign Office after Squire's death, the family said: "We are all deeply saddened by the loss of Ian, a loving father, husband, and devout Christian, who dedicated much of his life in the service of others. It's clear that Ian had touched many hearts with his kindness and grace. The extent of his impact is only made more apparent by the overwhelming response from the community in the wake of his death. He was a man constantly pushing the boundaries of generosity with his charity work, the scope of which knew no borders, taking him all the way to developing countries that needed it the most."

"Whilst the pain of this loss will be felt for many years to come, we are heartened by the incredible show of support and love from those that his life touched," the statement continued. "The family at this time appreciates your support and privacy as we deal with this unimaginable loss."

Tags : Shirley and David Donovan, Ian Squire, Missionary, Christian, Nigeria, Boko Haram, cult