As I read this article, my heart went out to those who have escaped the hands of the Boko Haram, but who have not yet escaped the clutches of fear, horrific flashbacks, and evil memories.
These girls need to be truly free; they need to live lives void of the fear of such a terrifying experience as being in captivity. Christ speaks of such a life in John 10:
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10, NIV)
This kind of life can only be found in knowing Christ. Christ doesn’t want to be apart of one’s life; He wants to change people’s whole lives and identities. Where there was once bondage to sin, shame, and death, He wants to grant true, light, victorious freedom to His people– He wants sons, not slaves.
“The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son does remain forever. So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.” (John 8:35-36, NIV)
As stated above, it is only in Christ that these young women can be free. It is only in and through faith in Christ that these girls’ traumatizing experiences can be healed, and their lives restored. But, what happens when this doesn’t happen quickly, but over painstaking amounts of time? What happens when everything in the world makes it look like Christ is not at work?
We must, after everything, put on the armor of God and stand firm, as Ephesians 6:13 exhorts. We must remember that Christ’s timing is not our timing (2 Peter 3:9), and that “…there is a time and a way for everything, although man’s trouble lies heavy on him” (Ecclesiastes 8:6, “for” omitted). Yet, in the midst of all this standing and persevering, it’s even more important to remember that Christ is a compassionate God who considers His people His friends: “Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you” (John 15:15b, NIV). Knowing that we are God’s friends allows us to “cast all [our] anxiety on Him, for He cares on us” (1 Peter 5:7, NIV). Truly, these girls do not need to be heavy laden. In Christ, the burdens of their painful past can be lifted. In Christ, they can find true rest.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30, NIV)
It is also important to remember that Christ sees their burdens, whether they bring them to Him or not. The same kind of distress these people have experienced was experienced by Israel during their exile in Babylon. Israel was destroyed; their walls were in shambles, and the people were in Babylonian captivity. During such times of loss, it was almost impossible to keep in mind that Christ was for His children, and knew their plight. Yet, these very truths were all affirmed in Isaiah 49:
“Can a mother forget the baby at her breast
and have no compassion on the child she has borne?
Though she may forget,
I will not forget you!
See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands;
your (ruined) walls are ever before me.” (Isaiah 49:15-16, “ruined” mine)
The girls who are now in physical freedom must be free spiritually, mentally, and emotionally by Christ from the bondage of their past terrifying experiences. They need to know that just like Israel, they have not been forgotten– and that Christ is near to them during such horrible times. These girls need to find rest in the arms of Jesus, both inside and outside captivity. For these reasons, we pray.
Please pray for these beautiful people, that as they continue on in their normal everyday lives, that the Lord would show Himself to them through any and all means, that they may know Him. Pray that as they know Him– and only as they know Him– their minds and hearts would slowly (but quite surely) be healed of the trauma they’ve experienced. Pray that as they continue to seek the Lord, He’d use these horrible experiences for good, as He has promised:
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28, NIV)
Amongst these things, also pray that the men, women, girls and boys still in captivity would be used to bring their captors to Christ, and would be favorably treated while in captivity. Pray that they’d be out of captivity, and back with their families, soon.
Let the restoration, strengthening, and healing of these beautiful, invaluable hearts and minds begin.