Over the holiday season, there was much news to be had. #BringBackOurGirls protesters took to the streets of Abuja city, calling for residents and the president to both remember the Chibok girls and to advocate for their rescue/release. Though they were barricaded from entering Jonathan’s presidential villa, these protesters succeeded in making their voices heard early Christmas morning.
Related to the story of the Chibok girls, close to a dozen kidnapped girls have escaped from the Boko Haram. Two of these young women spent Christmas in central Florida, with one being sponsored by a pastor from the area to receive schooling in Oregon. These girls are still haunted by their experience with the Boko Haram, and still pray for their sisters’ safety and release.
During church services this Christmas season in Nigeria, Muslims helped guard Christian churches against attacks made by insurgents. While it seems unusual, these measures were taken to increase peaceful co-existence between the two religions. The pastor of Christ Evangelical Church, Pastor Yohanna Buru, preached on peace, stating that “peace was a major panacea to the positive development of any nation.”
While stories such as these seem promising, marches like the one staged Christmas day remind us that there are still many young women who still have yet to be freed from this horrible nightmare. In addition to this, the concept of peaceful co-existence between Christianity and Islam– even going to the extent of calling Muslims “brothers”– is a concept that can make a discerning Christian uneasy.
It can make one uneasy when remembering Jesus’ words on “tolerance” and a worldly, counterfeit “peace”:
“Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division. From now on there will be five in one family divided against each other, three against two and two against three. They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.”
He said to the crowd: ‘When you see a cloud rising in the west, immediately you say, “‘It’s going to rain,’” and it does. And when the south wind blows, you say, “‘It’s going to be hot,’” and it is. Hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of the earth and the sky. How is it that you don’t know how to interpret this present time?
(Luke 12:51-56, NIV)
Jesus discusses this “division” not because He aims to create chaos and war, but because His very name will split people apart– eventually separating those who do believe in His salvation from those who do not. When Jesus speaks of “interpreting this time,” He is talking about the end times: times that will usher in evil masquerading as good, end times that will confuse and deceive those who do not believe in Christ. In the end times, a new, “unified” religion will be instituted, one that will bring many people away from Christ in pursuit false teaching, power and prestige (Revelation 17:1-18, NIV; for more on this one-world-religion, click here.)
Watching Islam trying to “peacefully co-exist” with Christianity brings on the dangerous risk of Christians compromising the absolute truth of Christ for a muddled, watered-down, Holy-Spirit-void, “tolerant” version of Christianity. 1 Peter gives us a better idea of how to interact with nonbelievers:
“But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.”
(1 Peter 3:15-16, NIV)
We are to 1) “revere Christ as Lord,” and 2) “always be prepared to give an answer to everyone…”. As Christians, we are not meant to force our faith on non-believers, but we are also not meant to compromise our faith for the sake of “tolerance.” With love, gentleness, and respect, we are to prayerfully give reason for why we believe so strongly in our faith, letting the Holy Spirit guide the conversation and give us the words to say. Our lives are lived to do the will of God the Father, while letting the Holy Spirit produce good fruit in us, showing the glory of God to non-believers (Romans 14:8; Acts 1:8, NIV). Giving anything less than our absolute all to the kingdom of God puts us in danger of compromising our faith for the pleasures of this world.
Taking these scriptural prophecies and exhortations into account, we are encouraged to pray for the church of Nigeria– not only that it is reformed from it’s corrupted state, but also that it guards itself against the false teaching of unified religion, while continuing to share the gospel with non-believers (especially Muslims) in the surrounding area. Christ has called us to revere Him and Him alone, while spreading His good news (Deuteronomy 13:4; Matthew 28:19, NIV). May our brothers and sisters stay faithful to this task.
Please pray for our brothers and sisters in Nigeria– that they would share our faith, and would keep from compromising their faith for false doctrine.
Please pray for the pastors and other clergy members in Nigeria, that they would remain true to biblical doctrine and would be blessed with discernment, wisdom and understanding as they shepherd Christ’s flock.
Pray for the protesters apart of the #BringBackOurGirls campaign, that they would come to know Christ, and would seek Him in prayer and fasting (if led to do so) on behalf of the girls. Pray also that these men, women and children would stand fast for the return of these girls, and would not lose heart; pray that Christ would strengthen them as they continue to campaign for truth, justice, and the safety of these girls.
Pray also for the close to a dozen girls who have escaped from the Boko Haram (BH), who are now living their own lives being haunted by the experiences they all share. Pray that Christ would continue to restore these young women back to mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual help; pray that they’d come to know Him. Also pray for the two young girls who have escaped and are in central Florida, specifically; pray that as one pursues schooling in Oregon, she’d grow in her relationship with Christ (she is Christian) and that God would bless the work of her hands.
Christ is clearly working in the hearts, minds and lives of those in Northern Nigeria. Pray that they’d continue to “hold fast to the hope [they] profess, for He who promised is faithful” (Hebrews 10:23, NIV).
Do you know Christ?
Do you want real peace, joy, and forgiveness?
Do you want to live in a personal relationship with God, in response to God’s unconditional love for you?
All mankind was born sinful, and all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Psalm 51:5; Romans 3:23, NIV). Our sin has caused us to earn eternal separation from God, called hell (Isaiah 59:2; 2 Thessalonians 1:8-9, NIV).
Over 2,000 years ago, Jesus Christ was born as God-in-Man (2 Corinthians 1:19; John 10:30-33, NIV). He was born of the virgin Mary, and came to do the will of the Father– which was to die for the sins of the world (John 4:34; 1 Corinthians 15:3, NIV). When Jesus died for the sins of mankind, he didn’t stay dead: He was resurrected on the third day, and now lives at the right hand of the Father (Romans 10:40; Romans 8:34, NIV). Jesus being resurrected proves that His love and power are stronger than any sin we could ever commit to separate us from Him.
Jesus is the only way to have a personal relationship with God (John 14:6, NIV). By believing that Christ is who He said He was– that He is God-in-Man, and that He died for your sin– and by confessing that He is the Lord and Savior of your life, Christ forgives all of your sin, and forever makes you right with Him (Romans 10:9, NIV). By doing this, you also invite God’s sweet Holy Spirit into your heart and life; when He makes your heart His home, He enables you to live a set-apart (holy) life for God (Acts 1:8, NIV).
Do you want to have a personal relationship with Jesus?
Do you want the Holy Spirit to live inside you, enabling you to live for Him alone?
Say this prayer with me, or say one of your own:
Dear Jesus, I believe that You are God-in-Man, the Savior of the whole world. I believe that You died for the sins of the whole world, and came back to life on the third day after Your death. I have sinned against You in thought, word, and deed; because of this, I deserve eternal separation from You in hell, but I pray You’d come into my heart and life, and that You’d help me to live my life for you alone. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.
If you have prayed this prayer, I am glad to say that you have started a personal relationship with Christ! This does not mean that you are now perfect, or that you’ll never have any problems; it means that the Holy Spirit will help you to live closely to and for Christ, obeying His Word in your daily life (Galatians 5:16, NIV). It means that Christ has overcome the world, and that by drawing near to Him and walking in His strength, you can endure and overcome your life’s problems too (John 16:33; Romans 8:37, NIV).
The Lord has called us to spread the good news to the people who have yet to meet Christ in our lives (Matthew 28:19-20, NIV). Be praying that Jesus would use you to spread the gospel to those you know!
Be blessed in your walk with Christ! 🙂