According to CNN, the Boko Haram has kidnapped 185 more women, boys and girls and killed 32 from the town of Gumsuri, Nigeria. This news comes in light of reports that the Boko Haram has been cruelly killing elderly people from the Gwoza area.
There are no words to describe the horror of such reports. There are no words to express the frustration and the disappointment felt by this news. Each new wave of reports heralding such corruption and nightmarish sin can easily cause the observer to lose hope.
Yet, there is a call to stand firm in the fight to bring the Chibok girls, as well as these new kidnappees, back home. Let this be said: We cannot back down amidst such reports. This hope is unyielding, despite the gravity of the situation; faith in the One who created these girls outweighs anything that tries to come against it. One cannot stand idly by and feebly hold onto this hope, silently. We must proclaim it from the rooftops, declaring that the story does not end here, at the end of a heartbreaking headline. No; these men, women and children are still breathing, and their stories still matter. Not all is lost. Because of this, hope stays alive in my heart for the outcome of these precious people, and I will continue to document their pains, their victories, and every plea for prayer in between.
We are to feel their pain as if it is our own bodies. While we cannot be crushed by their sorrow, we are called to “mourn with those who mourn” (Romans 12:15, NIV) and to remember those who are mistreated:
“Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering.”
(Hebrews 13:3, NIV)
The apostle Paul also called believers to “remember these things”:
“So I will always remind you of these things, even though you know them and are firmly established in the truth you now have… and I will make every effort to see that after my departure you will always be able to remember these things.”
(2 Peter 1:13,15, NIV)
“These things” the apostle exhorts us to remember are lessons learned from passages of scripture, many of which speak on confirming our calling, loving our neighbors and remembering those in chains (2 Peter 1:10; John 13:34-35, NIV).
This is a call to all who have ever read this blog, and to those who continue to read it with the same hope– mixed with bittersweet pain– that I feel in my heart: we cannot forget the plight of people just because they live a world away. We cannot let the frustration created by such developments cause us to become inactive and apathetic to pain. We must refuse to let our hope be tarnished by the world system, holding onto it with the assurance that God has promised salvation (Isaiah 62:2-5, NIV), and that He means what He says.
In light of such hope, let us continue to rally for the release of these beautiful men, women and children, letting the whole world know that there are still people passionate about their safe return. Let us continue to write letters, hold vigils, and prayerfully send our money to organizations committed to helping the people of Nigeria. But most importantly, let us continue to pray, giving Christ “no rest till He establishes [His people in Northern Nigeria] and makes [them] the praise of the earth” (Isaiah 62:6-7, NIV). The Lord has not forgotten these people; He sees every tear cried, and feels the pain of each friend and family member as they must live daily without their loved ones. We cannot forget them either, but must stand firm in the hope of their return.
Please pray for the 185 men, women and children kidnapped by the Boko Haram; pray that Christ would grant them protection and safety amidst such horrible conditions, as well as a safe, quick return along with the girls of Chibok.
Please be praying for the loved ones of those kidnapped and killed, as they are deeply mourning the loss of their friends and family. Pray especially for the families whose elderly loved ones were involved in the mass killings that happened late last week (December 18th-19th). They need our prayers now more than ever.
Pray that these families wouldn’t lose hope, and would trust in the Lord to bring their children home as they celebrate His birth this Christmas. Pray that their Christmases would not be dangerous, hopeless or lonely, but would be filled with this assured hope, joy, and a peace that surpasses all understanding as they trust in Him.
The families of those missing need to know that they are being supported and taken care of this holiday season. Please show your solidarity by keeping them in your hearts, thoughts, and prayers.
Do you know Christ?
Are you looking for any sign of hope, any amount of joy, or any bit of peace you can find– but you keep coming up empty? Are you searching for the true meaning of this holiday season?
Over 2,000 years ago, God was born in the form of a man, Jesus Christ (John 10:30-33; 2 Corinthians 1:19, NIV). This man forever changed the fate of mankind, and died, having never sinned, for the sins of the whole world (1 Corinthians 15:3, NIV). Not only did Christ die for the world; He came back to life on the third day, forever proving that His Love was bigger than our sin (Acts 10:40, NIV).
“God so loved the world that He gave His only son (born of the virgin Mary), so that whoever believes in Him might not perish, but would have eternal life.”
(John 3:16, NIV)
This means that those who accept that Christ is who He said He is (that He was God-in-Man, the perfect, spotless lamb, dying for the whole world and rising again on the third day), and confess with their tongue that He is Lord, have received Christ into their hearts and lives, and have been forgiven of all their sin (Romans 10:9; John 8:48-59; Exodus 3:14, NIV)! This forgiveness allows them to have a personal relationship with God, where Jesus’ Holy Spirit empowers them to live a set-apart life to Him (Acts 1:8, John 14:15-27, NIV). Without the Holy Spirit, a person can do nothing that will last eternally, but with Him, they can do all things that will last eternally (John 15:5; Philippians 4:13, NIV).
Do you want to know Christ personally? Do you want to be forgiven of all your sin, and given eternal life as you live a Holy life for Him?
Say this prayer after me, or say one in your own words:
Dear Jesus, I believe that you are the Son of God, the chosen Messiah (Savior) of the world. I believe you were born of a virgin named Mary, and came to die for the sins of the whole world. I believe you were resurrected on the third day, and now live forever at the right hand of the father. I have sinned against you in thought, word and in deed; I deserve to go to hell, but I pray that you’d forgive me of my sin and come into my heart and life, so that you can help me to live a set-apart life to you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
If you have prayed this prayer with me or said one of your own, I’m glad to say that you now have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ! You have been forgiven of all your sin, and you are made new. As 2 Corinthians 5:17 states, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”
This doesn’t mean that you’ll never sin or have problems again; in fact, Jesus promises that we will have problems in this life. Instead, it means that the Holy Spirit can enable us to live righteously, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with God– even when life is filled with troubles (Micah 6:8, NIV). It means that Christ has overcome the world’s troubles, and that He is greater in you than the enemy, who is in the world (John 16:33; 1 John 4:4, NIV).
Be blessed and enjoy your walk with Christ! 🙂