There are countless children and teenagers being forced into the Sharia-law enforcing Boko Haram. On December 25th, it was reported that one 13 year old girl was forced into Boko Haram by her father, who was also apart of the terrorist group. Being apart of this group did not spare her from deadly violence, though; members asked the girl– and eventually forced her– to be a suicide bomber with two other young girls in the city of Kano, Nigeria. Leaving her suicide vest behind in the taxi she rode, this young girl narrowly escaped certain death, being injured in the leg by the blast caused by the two other suicide bombers.
My heart lies heavy for the young men and women being pushed into such evil circumstances. Pressured and coerced by the fear of violence and certain death, these boys and girls are made into child soldiers, trained to give up their lives for a cause they desperately don’t believe in. Though the concept of using child soldiers in warfare is unfortunately nothing new, the use of child soldiers in such a battle as this one– children being used by both the Boko Haram and Nigerian vigilante groups— is especially cruel.
These boys and girls are especially loved and cherished by Jesus. In Matthew 19, Jesus welcomes children into His arms, proclaiming their importance to Him:
“Then people brought little children to Jesus for him to place his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples rebuked them.
Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.’ When he had placed his hands on them, he went on from there.”
(Matthew 19:13-15, NIV)
At a time where children were “relatively unimportant” (source), Jesus’ eager attitude towards these little ones and their child-like faith speaks volumes. God’s divine view of children can also be seen in the story of Hagar and Ishmael, as the baby Ishmael cries.
“Early the next morning Abraham took some food and a skin of water and gave them to Hagar. He set them on her shoulders and then sent her off with the boy. She went on her way and wandered in the Desert of Beersheba.
When the water in the skin was gone, she put the boy under one of the bushes. Then she went off and sat down about a bowshot away, for she thought, ‘I cannot watch the boy die.’ And as she sat there, she (or the child) began to sob.
God heard the boy crying, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, ‘What is the matter, Hagar? Do not be afraid; God has heard the boy crying as he lies there. Lift the boy up and take him by the hand, for I will make him into a great nation.’
Then God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water. So she went and filled the skin with water and gave the boy a drink.”
(Genesis 21:14-19, NIV)
As seen in verse 17, God– Jesus– was moved by Ishmael’s cries (though He surely had compassion on Hagar as well), and in turn spoke tenderly to Hagar . This show of compassion on Ishmael and Hagar further proves the scripture that “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:18, NIV). In light of these passages, we can be sure that Christ is extremely pained– even outraged– by the use of little children to execute such horrid commands in wartime.
Yet, this report by Ben Hooper not only highlights the atrocities of using child soldiers, but also speaks of hope. One girl, by the name of Deborah, escaped from the terrorist group, and is now going to the United States to finish school (as funded by the Education After Escape organization). Deborah, a teenager, dreams of being a medical doctor, so that she can return and open a hospital for those injured by the insurgents’ attacks. Such ambition is wonderful to hear of, especially when the Boko Haram has aimed to ruin such beautiful attempts of girls getting higher education.
It all only goes to show that while the enemy has aimed to “steal, kill and destroy” (John 10:10, NIV), the Lord is still at work. Still, we must pray for the beautiful, invaluable boys and girls who are still being subjected to such disgusting crimes. The Lord is near to them; therefore, we must hold them near to us in our hearts and minds.
Please pray for those men, women, boys and girls who are still in captivity/have been forced into Boko Haram. Pray that they’d safely escape or would be rescued by the Nigerian government soon. Pray for their continued safety and protection while under the control of the Boko Haram (BH).
Pray for those people who have already escaped/been rescued from the BH. Pray that they’d continue to be healed of this traumatic experience, and that the Lord would redeem and use their lives in major ways.
The Lord is near to those broken in spirit, and is redeeming the lives of those saved out of the Boko Haram’s clutches. Amongst such reports, that is cause for praising the Lord, indeed.
Do you know Jesus?
Do you want to find true peace, joy, and purpose in life?
Do you want to know more about this God, who is passionate about children, the humble and broken-hearted?
All mankind was born sinful, and all have fallen short of the glory of God (Psalm 51:5; Romans 3:23, NIV). Because of this, we have been separated from God– called hell– and our sin brings us spiritual, emotional, mental, and physical death (Isaiah 59:2; James 1:15, 2 Thessalonians 1:8-9, NIV).
Christ came so that we might have life, abundantly (John 10:10, NIV). 2,000 years ago, Jesus was born of the virgin Mary, as God-in-Man (Matthew 1:18; John 10:30-33, NIV). Jesus never sinned, but out of His great love for us, He died for our sin and shame by being nailed to a cross. On the third day after His death, He was resurrected, proving that His Great Love for us is bigger than the sin that separated us (1 Corinthians 15:3; Acts 10:40, NIV).
Jesus is the only way to know God personally (John 14:6, NIV). This means that all people who believe that Christ is who He said He was– God-in-Man, the Savior of the world– and confess Him as their Lord and Savior, can have a personal relationship with God, and are forgiven of all their sin (Ephesians 1:7; John 1:10-13, NIV). For, “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16, NIV).
Do you want to ask Jesus into your heart and life?
Do you want His Holy Spirit to help you live a Holy life for Him?
Say this simple prayer with me, or say one of your own:
Jesus, I believe that you are the Son of God, God-in-Man. I believe that You were born of the virgin Mary, and died for the sins of the world. I believe You came back to life on the third day after Your resurrection. I have sinned against You in thought, word, and deed; these sins deserve death and separation from You, but I pray You’d come into my heart, forgive me of all my sin, and help me to live for You by the power of Your Holy Spirit. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
If you’ve prayed this prayer, I’m glad to say that you’ve received Jesus into your heart and life! This does not mean that you’ll never sin again, or that life will be trouble free, but rather, it means that you now have the power to live righteously, love mercy, and walk humbly with Jesus (Micah 6:8, NIV). It means that Christ has already overcome the world– and greater is He in you, than the enemy, who is in the world (John 16:33; 1 John 4:4, NIV).
Please be praying that others around you come to know Christ. Be praying that Jesus would use you to bring others to Christ (Matthew 28:19-20, NIV).
If you want to know more about Christ, the Holy Spirit, or the gospel, click here.
Be blessed in your walk with Christ! 🙂