It was reported on December 28th that Boko Haram killed approximately 30 civilians in the town of Mbaljuel, Cameroon Saturday. These innocent men, women, and children were among 4 soldiers attacked on the Waza-Mora highway Friday, which killed one Cameroonian corporal and injured 3 others.
These attacks come in light of the Cameroon military’s counterattacks against the terrorist group, which have killed 53 Boko Haram members and destroyed a training ground for the insurgents. Cameroon’s military is now positioning soldiers in the far North of Cameroon, to guard its borders against Boko Haram.
While the Cameroonian military seems to be doing a much more effective job fighting the Boko Haram than the Nigerian military, this news expresses that surrounding nations– not only Nigeria– are in real danger of being infiltrated and harmed by Boko Haram. News of this slaughter has shocked and saddened many; it is obvious that Cameroon is in need of prayers and support as well.
This slaughter is not the only thing that saddens observers. It is always concerning when evil seems to be spreading; like a virus, it threatens to destroy the people and places it inhabits. This specific corruption and crime has spread from Northeast Nigeria to places such as Chad and Niger in recent years. Yet, we know that there will one day be an end to all horrific evil. In Revelation 20, the apostle John describes an angel holding the keys to the “bottomless pit” or “abyss”:
“And I saw an angel coming down out of heaven, having the key to the Abyss and holding in his hand a great chain. He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan, and bound him for a thousand years. He threw him into the Abyss, and locked and sealed it over him, to keep him from deceiving the nations anymore until the thousand years were ended. After that, he must be set free for a short time.”
(Revelation 20:1-3, NIV)
This description of the dragon (satan) being “thrown into the abyss” conveys the message that while satan may seem to have free reign and much power over the world, he only has the power that God allows him to have; one day, that power– that evil power behind Boko Haram’s actions– will be taken away. As one reads on in Revelation, we learn of the eventual destruction of satan himself.
“When the thousand years are over, Satan will be released from his prison and will go out to deceive the nations in the four corners of the earth—Gog and Magog—and to gather them for battle. In number they are like the sand on the seashore. They marched across the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of God’s people, the city he loves. But fire came down from heaven and devoured them. And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night for ever and ever.“
(Revelation 20:7-10, NIV)
While satan will try to go to battle against God, we see that in two verses, satan is completely destroyed by God. This complete victory asserts and affirms Christ’s complete sovereignty. At the end of Revelation, we find not only that all evil is destroyed, but that all pain becomes a complete thing of the past. Christ will “wipe every tear from [our] eyes” and “there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” (Revelation 21:4, NIV).
While I do not have the reason for why we suffer– as I’m sure nobody truly does– I do know that suffering can be the catalyst for forming us into the image of Christ. Believers have been predestined, called, justified, and glorified to become more like the Son, Christ Jesus. Because pain and affliction can form us more into His image, all things indeed work out for our good– as it is for our good that we are conformed to look more and more like Him (Romans 8:28-33, NIV).
The agony, sorrow, and grief that people all over West Africa are now experiencing will one day be a distant memory. Though these days are perilous, filled with inexpressible heartache on all sides, there is hope in the fact that Christ is still in control, that He is using this pain to make us more like Him, and that no trial is forever. For those who pray for these victims, that is a cause for eternally abiding hope.
Please pray for the men, women, and children involved in Saturday’s attacks. Pray for their friends and family members, who are now grieving for their lost loved ones. Their journeys to healing from these attacks have just begun.
Pray for the Cameroonian military, as well as the militaries of Niger and Chad. As these countries are starting to face attacks from insurgents, pray that they would have faith in Christ, courage, and wisdom to know how to respond to such horrific warfare.
Pray for the governments of each of these nations, that they would be full of Christian leaders who come to Christ for the solution to the problem of terrorism. These countries will surely need all the prayer they can get for any attacks to come.
Pray for the children witnessing such barbaric acts of violence. Pray that Jesus would show Himself to these children, and that in knowing Christ, they would find rest, protection, comfort, and healing. Pray also for their mothers and fathers, that they would rely on Christ for wisdom on how to lovingly raise their children in these times.
Pray that these people would cling to Christ as He continues to make them more like Himself. These trials will not be forever; in the midst of such pain, let us stand in the gap for our brothers and sisters, prayerfully loving them from all around the world.
Do you know Christ?
The great theological author, CS Lewis, penned a very real truth when writing about pain:
“Mental pain is less dramatic than physical pain, but it is more common and also more hard to bear. The frequent attempt to conceal mental pain increases the burden: it is easier to say ‘My tooth is aching’ than to say ‘My heart is broken.’”
All mankind was born sinful, broken, separated from God, and deserving of hell; yet, in our society, being broken is something many refuse to accept (Psalm 51:5; Isaiah 59:2, 2 Thessalonians 1:9, NIV). Without accepting that they are in need of healing, they spend their lives carrying the heavy burden of pain, imposed by a pride that hardens their hearts.
We all have times where the mental and emotional pain in us seems endless, all too hard to bear. But Jesus is “close to the brokenhearted” and “saves those who are crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:18, NIV).
Not only did Jesus come to heal those with broken hearts; over 2,000 years ago, He came, as God-in-Man (The perfect Son of God) to the world, to die for our sin (2 Corinthians 1:19; John 10:30-33; 1 Corinthians 15:3, NIV). Jesus didn’t stay dead– three days after his death, He was resurrected, forever proving that the sin that separated us from God could not defeat Christ’s power or Love (Acts 10:40, NIV). By accepting Jesus’ sacrifice for us, and by confessing that He is our Lord and Savior, everything that ever separated us from God is forgiven by Him, and a new relationship with Him through Christ is begun (Romans 10:9, NIV). In this new relationship with Christ, we are given the Holy Spirit, who helps us live a set-apart life to God (Acts 1:8; John 14:15-27, NIV).
Do you need your sin– everything you’ve ever done to separate yourself from God– forgiven? Do you want to have a personal relationship with Christ, the Son of God?
Say this prayer with me, or say one of your own:
Dear Jesus, I believe that You were born of the virgin Mary, and died on a cross as God-in-Human Flesh for the sins of the world (Matthew 1:18, NIV). I believe that You were resurrected three days after Your death, and now sit at the right hand of the Father, interceding for us (Romans 8:34, NIV). I have sinned against You in thought, word, and deed; these sins have made me deserving of hell, but I pray You’d forgive me of my sin, and help me to live a set-apart life for You. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
If you’ve prayed this prayer, I’m glad to say that you’ve asked Jesus into your heart and life! This does not mean that you are perfect, or that there is never any trouble in life; it means that the Holy Spirit enables you to live righteously, love mercy, and walk humbly with God (Micah 6:8, NIV). It means that though there is pain, Jesus has overcome the pain of this world, and in Him, you can overcome the world, too (John 16:33, NIV).
The Lord has called us to spread Jesus’ message of salvation and hope through His sacrifice (Matthew 28:19-20, NIV). Please be praying that God would use you to bring others to the healing message of Christ.
To learn more about Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and the gospel, click here.
Be blessed in your walk with Christ! 🙂