In the American University of Nigeria (AUN), located in Yola, three girls stand, praying together. Lifting their prayers to the Lord, they pray for the return of the more than 200 classmates they left behind: apart of the 50 who escaped as Boko Haram drove into the Sambisa Forest after their kidnapping, these three young women fervently pray for the safe release or escape of their sisters. “We are praying for them that maybe one day God will set them free,” one of them states with expectancy. With audacious hope, another girl proclaims what she knows to be true. “It will definitely happen,” she affirms. 
One can call it naivete, while others call it wishful thinking. Yet, the way these young girls speak with such certainty– even in the face of little to no promising information on the whereabouts of their classmates– is remarkable.
The assurance these girls express is not remarkable without cause. In less than a week, April 14th will mark the one-year anniversary of the Chibok schoolgirls’ kidnapping. Since the kidnapping, the news surrounding them has been inconsistent at best. While at times hopeful reports have come out, such as the news that a truce had been made between Boko Haram and Nigeria in October 2014, many of those reports have fallen through with news of increased Boko Haram kidnappings and sieges. In fact, Boko Haram’s leader, Abubukar Shekau, countered the news of a purported “truce” with Nigeria by asserting that the girls had been “married off” to BH members and were “never being freed” (source). To make matters even more discouraging, news has come out this week that Boko Haram may have killed the schoolgirls in Bama before the elections in March. While Nigeria’s federal government has come against this claim, vowing that their own report on the situation of the Chibok schoolgirls will come soon, many people don’t know what to believe anymore. It is in the face of this increasingly uncertain situation that such certain hope is either awe-inspiring or insane.
Yet, the hope these girls express is understandable when one recalls not only the extraordinary nature of faith, but the extraordinary nature of the One they have faith in. In Hebrews, faith is defined as “confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see” (Hebrews 11:1, NIV). Anyone can have faith, but it is the object of one’s faith, not faith in and of itself, that determines it’s value. And when we put our faith and hope in Jesus– even in the face of weakness and doubt– He can save, strengthen and redeem us for amazing things.
Hope in the Faith
This truth is seen all throughout the gospels as Jesus heals, saves, and interacts with people. In Mark 5, two women are healed by their faith in Jesus: one dying, and one suffering from an unknown illness. Mark 5:22 opens as the dying girl’s father, Jairus, begs Jesus to come heal her; agreeing to see her, Jesus follows the man through a bustling crowd. In this crowd, He is touched by a woman who “had been subject to bleeding for twelve years” (Mark 5:25, NIV); filled with faith in His ability to save, this woman is healed by touching Jesus. As Jesus asks who touched his clothes, she confesses that it was her (vs. 33). Expecting his rebuke, this woman instead receives Jesus’ words of exhortation, love, and peace: “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering” (Mark 5:34, NIV).
While this is occurring, men from Jairus’ household come to him, reporting that His daughter has died. In the face of what has seemingly become a hopeless situation, Jesus says powerful words, full of hope: “Don’t be afraid; just believe.”  Entering the household, Jesus finds family members mourning. When He assures them of how short her death will be by claiming she is only asleep, they reply with doubting laughter (Mark 5:39-40). Telling them to leave the room, He resurrects the young girl right in front of her parents’ eyes by simply commanding, “‘Talitha koum,’ which means ‘Little girl, get up!'” (Mark 5:41, NIV). In both cases, Jesus heals these women in response to their faith; yet, it is not the amount of faith alone that has saved them, but that they put their faith in the only One who can save.
Comfort for the Doubt
While the bible is full of miracles that come from having faith in Christ, it also comforts those whose faith is not as strong. Just a few chapters later, in Mark 9, Jesus comes to a man whose son is demon-possessed. Faltering in his faith, Jesus admonishes him; in reply, the man instantly cries out, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 9:23-24, NIV).
In much different circumstances, one of Christ’s very own disciples, Thomas, doubts that Christ actually came back from the grave. When he resolves not to believe the news until Christ Himself appears before Him, Christ does just that. Appearing before Him, He tells Thomas to “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe” (John 20:27, NIV).
In both circumstances, Christ, with grace and love, strengthens the little faith these men do have in Him. He does not abandon them in their weaknesses; instead, He is patient with them, strengthening their belief by showing His mighty, saving power in their weaknesses. He takes the faith and the heart that we do have, and strengthens it according to His great mercy and grace. This is the promise that all believers have in Christ. 
It is by Christ’s Love and power that these young girls have faith in the eventual salvation of their sisters; and it is by faith that their prayers are sincerely said. May God, by His will, in His way, and in His timing– not our own– make good on this promise. For He, no matter our faith or doubt, is faithful to do so.
362 days after their kidnapping, please pray with me for the more than 200 young girls who are still held captive by Boko Haram. Pray that their rescue or release would come soon, be it Christ’s will.
Please pray that the men and women continuing to protest for their rescue would be encouraged, and would not lose heart. Pray also for the AU army, as they continue to fight off Boko Haram and search for the girls.
THIS COMING TUESDAY, APRIL 14TH, 2015, PLEASE ASK THOSE AROUND YOU TO PRAY FOR, MARCH FOR, AND SPEAK OUT FOR THE MORE THAN 200 GIRLS STILL HELD CAPTIVE BOTH ONLINE AND IN REAL LIFE. IN SOLIDARITY WITH MANY CHURCHES AND ACTIVISTS ACROSS THE WORLD, PLEASE WEAR RED TO SUPPORT THE GIRLS AND THEIR LOVED ONES DURING THIS DIFFICULT TIME. Let their loved ones be encouraged with the truth that salvation and freedom belong to Christ alone.
In all these things, may we as believers know that we are more than conquerors in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:37, NIV). May we not lose hope in Christ’s ability to save!
Do you know Jesus?
Faith is something that, if not directed towards the Truth, can end in horrendous consequences. You may have heard of Jesus; you may have already accepted Him as Lord and Savior of your life, or you may be the one who consistently mocks the very thought of such belief. Yet, whether you believe it or not, Jesus Christ claimed to be the one and only Way, Truth, and Life; without Him, no one can truly know God, be forgiven their sins, have life after death here on Earth, or even have a real, abundant life here on Earth. This statement has been the cause of much controversy; but, for millions of people all across time and space, it has been the cause of much relief, joy, and transformation.
Are you a self-proclaimed doubter of Jesus and the Gospel message? Confused about what the Gospel really is? You are welcomed here. All I ask is this: give this crazy message of love, forgiveness, and redemption a chance, even if only for the amount of time it takes to read this message. I am sure that for every honest inch you take towards Jesus, He will be faithful to reveal Himself to you.
“…if we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot disown himself.”
(2 Timothy 2:13, NIV)