Archbishop Benjamin Kwashi and his wife, Gloria, live in Jos, Plateau State, in northern Nigeria which has had numerous outbreaks of religious violence. For several years, Boko Haram, one of the deadliest terrorist groups in the world, has spawned unrest, displacement, and death in northern Nigeria, particularly against Christians.
The Archbishop has been outspoken and openly critical of the press and the authorities whenever he has witnessed injustice. He has called repeatedly for the government to step up security to protect Christians under attack in the north.
The Kwashis have experienced terror and tragedy first-hand. They are fellow suffers with their people. Their vicarage and church were burned to the ground. Archbishop Kwashi has survived three attempts on his life. His wife, Gloria has been savagely beaten and raped, dragged through the streets and robbed. She was left blind in one eye until her sight was later restored after an operation. The fourth attack came days after he was announced as General Secretary of GAFCON (Global Anglican Future Conference) in Jerusalem in 2018. Several young men came to their home to kill the Archbishop, yet as the Archbishop prayed they ended up not killing him. They robbed the couple and fled.
Cattle rustlers have also attacked the Kwashis home. Archbishop Kwashi heard the raiders break into his compound and told everyone to stay indoors until they had left. They seized nine cows from the Kwashis and shot and killed a neighbor who challenged them by shining a torch in their direction.
The Archbishop later visited the family of the dead man and prayed for them. He said ‘When I saw the widow and the house I could not help myself, my tears flowed freely and my heart shattered! He was an ordinary citizen struggling with life and doing every honest job to make ends meet. I still carry the image of the house, the widow and the children.”
Through all of this, the Kwashis have modeled courage and compassion. They touch the lives of people who do not have anyone to stand for them. Since the attacks began, the Archbishop and his wife have fostered hundreds of orphans, many whom are HIV positive. In addition, Gloria, founded the Zambiri Outreach and Child Care Centre where 400 pupil receive free education, free feeding, uniform, and medical care.
Each time the attackers come, Archbishop Kwashi says it makes them more resolved to preach the gospel and proclaim the Christian message
“Just like the early church, we are being persecuted. When I became bishop year ago I inherited a persecuted church. I had no intention then to let the church lose steam, and I don’t want that happening now. We must not be afraid or lose confidence, but plow ahead with mission in the midst of persecution. Courage only comes from God. Outside of Jesus, your own courage will fail you. When you see the gospel at work saving lives, you count your suffering for nothing.”
On September 30th, 2019, 21Wilberforce presented the second annual Frank Wolf Speak Freedom award to Archbishop Benjamin and Dr. Gloria Kwashi Named for Congressman Frank Wolf who has worked tirelessly for decades to promote international religious freedom and later served on staff with 21Wilberforce.
Archbishop Kwashi is the Bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Jos, Nigeria and General Secretary of GAFCON. He is well known as an evangelist throughout Nigeria, Africa, England, and the United States. His wife, Dr. Gloria Kwashi, has been Diocesan President of the Mothers’ Union, Women’s Guild and Girls’ Guild, and is the Provincial Trainer for the Mothers’ Union (Church of Nigeria). Both the Bishop and his wife hold Bachelor of Divinity degrees; the Bishop is also a Doctor of Ministry and a Doctor of Divinity. Ben and Gloria also work in mediation and peace building in the region.