“Hope for the Future”: Keep Your Eyes on Jesus (A Letter)

In April of 2014, 276 girls ages 16-18 were stolen from their boarding school in Chibok, Nigeria.
Although the majority of the young women remain missing, 57 managed to escape. Three of them, along with one girl who fortunately, was not kidnapped, but saw the kidnapping and school fire’s aftermath, spoke with Abigail Pesta of Cosmopolitan Magazine concerning their stories. All four of these girls are Christian; and, although their experiences concerning Boko Haram and the Chibok Girls kidnapping are traumatic (to say the least), one of them, Mercy, has chosen to forgive their members, saying, “I pray to God to forgive them and cure their hearts… I do not want revenge.” By Jesus’ grace, these four brave young women are now studying at a Christian boarding school in Canyonville, Oregon.

When praying about this blog post’s topic, Jesus led me to write a letter of encouragement to my fellow sisters. Using God’s Word to exhort these brave young women, I pray it would encourage them to “keep their minds stayed” on Jesus. You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!” (Isaiah 26:3, NLT). I pray that it would keep all of our minds on Christ, and that it would bring close all those who are far away from Him.

For more on how you can pray for and support these girls, please scroll down to the end of this post. Blessings in Christ!

Grace, Mercy, Deborah, and Sarah:

“I have no greater joy than to hear that my [sisters] are walking in the truth.”
(3 John 1:4, ESV)

“These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.”
(John 16:33, NASB)

Hello! My name is Annalee. After reading your story from Cosmopolitan Magazine’s online June 2015 issue, Jesus led me to write this letter to you.

I want all of you to know that you are very brave. I cannot imagine the pain and loss you have been through; but it amazed me and humbled me to see your beautiful, smiling faces in the pictures of that article.

It humbled me even more to know that sometimes, a smile is replaced by a frown, and laughter sometimes becomes deep cries of sorrow. “The heart knows its own bitterness, and no stranger shares its joy… Even in laughter the heart may ache, and the end of joy may be grief” (Proverbs 14:10; 14:13). Friends, I pray that you would know just how near Jesus is in those moments. I pray that you would know how it feels to be carried in Jesus’ arms, as a good Shepherd carries His lamb (Ephesians 2:13; Isaiah 40:11; Psalm 28:9). I have weeped for this tragedy; more than this, Jesus has led me to continue to pray for you, your classmates, and your nation.

I am not the only one. Over the past year and a half, I have met many people who have heard of what happened to you and your classmates at Chibok Secondary School. Jesus has called many people, all over His world, to “keep you in remembrance;” all it takes is to bring what happened up, and to ask people to keep you and your loved ones in their prayers. By Jesus’ Holy Spirit, many of your brothers and sisters have been moved to “draw near to the throne of favor,” asking Jesus to pour out His grace and mercy on all of you, during the times you have needed it most (Hebrews 4:14-16). I pray that knowing this would encourage you.

You and your lives are not hidden from Christ; rather, Jesus knows and understands you perfectly. “Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered”; “[Jesus has] seen [your] affliction; [Jesus has] known the distress of [your] soul” (Luke 12:7; Psalm 31:7, ESV, “Jesus has” and “your,” mine). Not a tear is lost; He’s bottled each one of them up (Psalm 56:8). Rest in this Truth. Jesus will prepare you for all that lies ahead and be with you always (“I am creating something new. There it is! Do you see it? I have put roads in deserts, streams in thirsty lands.” Isaiah 43:19, CEV). There is true worth in your past; but I pray you would see (and rejoice in!) all that Jesus is doing, now.

“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.’”
(Jeremiah 29:11-13, NIV).

Running Towards Our Goal

My friends, although it is said a lot, I want to remind you of a lovely, and important, truth: Though your past might be dark, with Christ as your Lord and Lover of your soul, your future is beautifully bright!
I have no idea how you view Jesus, or what your relationship with Him is like. But there is one thing I do know: “…I forget what is behind, and I struggle for what is ahead. I run toward the goal, so that I can win the prize of being called to heaven. This is the prize that God offers because of what Christ Jesus has done” (Philippians 3:13-14, CEV). It’s Jesus’ work on the Cross that entered us into this grace-filled race, and it is by Him alone that we will finish it (“And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” Philippians 1:6, ESV). Sisters, I cannot imagine the past you have had. I do not want to discredit or make it any less than what it is. In light of all of it, I do not say this passage in Philippians 3 lightly, or without understanding that it may be a huge challenge. But I am praying that Jesus would meet you in this challenge, would counsel and comfort your heart and mind, and would help you as you move forward, step by step. I pray that what might start as a very slow crawl into the future would progress into a run, as Jesus strengthens and uplifts you by His Love (“[We] can do all this through him who gives [us] strength.” Philippians 4:13, NIV).

Our Unshakable Hope

As we look forward, there is one thing we can look to in expectancy with joy.
“Look, I am coming soon, bringing my reward with me to repay all people according to their deeds. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.”
“…He who is the faithful witness to all these things says, ‘Yes, I am coming soon!’ Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!” (Revelation 22:12-13; 20). These last few passages in the Bible speaks an undeniable Truth: In the end, Jesus is coming soon. This truth, above all, gives us an unshakable hope. As the verse at the beginning of the letter states, we will have trouble; we will have pain, suffering, and loss. But take courage; Jesus has overcome this world, and He is coming back soon, to take us with Him, and to right every wrong. We do not go through our sufferings alone; neither will they last forever. Be strengthened, sisters. “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18, NIV). I pray you would look back, and see Jesus; I pray you would look forward, and see Jesus.

Most of all, I pray you would look at the present, and see Jesus at work, too– especially in the case of your friends who remain captive. Jesus has not forgotten your classmates from Chibok, and neither have I. In fact, it is because Jesus has not forgotten them that we cannot, either. Though your friends and loved ones have faded from the public’s eye, Jesus is doing things, and raising up people, who have not forgotten your friends, and who, by Jesus, are working for your classmates’ release.

Waiting upon Christ

Some people have been physically marching, in Nigeria and all over the world. Some having been showing their support through petitions and social media campaigns. Some have done both, and more. As we prayerfully do these things, we remember one thing: that Jesus is in control, that He has a perfect plan and purpose for this, and ultimately, things will happen in His way and His timing. He Loves us. With this in mind, I pray you would wait upon Him. “…but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint” (Isaiah 40:31, NIV).

Dear friends, the most important thing we can do is pray. We can petition, and we can protest, but until we petition Jesus, we get nowhere. More than bringing Jesus a petition, or request, we can bring Him our hearts. His invitation to come to Him, in everything, is constantly available. “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28). When we pray, we fix our eyes on Jesus– who is the Rock of Ages: high and lifted up, unchanging in every circumstance, and the Cornerstone, or foundation, of our very lives (Isaiah 57:15; Ephesians 2:20).

The Main Message

I cannot fathom the journey you have been on, and I know that all of this is much more easy to say than to actually live out. But my main message to you is this:

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”
(Hebrews 12:1-3, NIV)

Girls, above all else, I pray that you would always keep your beautiful eyes on Jesus. When you do so, He will free you to look at– and live for– Him, the only One that matters in the end. I don’t know of the weather in Oregon, but I pray He would refresh you in His Love, and hold you close when you are cold, this fall season. I pray He would always give you reason to flash your bright smiles, and to praise Him, no matter what the world throws at you. For, “In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; [Jesus has] overcome the world!” (John 16:33). I pray this Truth would give you Perfect Peace, as you continually come to Jesus for the rest of your lives.
Be blessed, Jesus’ Brave Ones! 🙂

Much Love to You All!
Your sis in Christ,

Do you know Jesus?

“How deep the Father’s love for us,
How vast beyond all measure,
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure.”
“How Deep the Father’s Love for Us,” by Stuart Townend

As it is written before the letter, it was mentioned that Mercy, who was kidnapped herself by Boko Haram, chose to forgive Boko Haram’s men for what they did, saying, “I pray to God to forgive them and cure their hearts.” At the end of the day, we may be nowhere near as outwardly atrocious as Boko Haram. We may never dream of kidnapping anyone, let alone killing someone.

But according to Matthew chapter 5, Jesus says that “if you are even angry with someone, you are subject to judgment” (Matthew 5:22, NLT). That’s a tall order! Jesus was pointing at one thing: “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). No matter who you are, our hearts are, apart from Jesus, “…deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9). In Jesus speaking this tough teaching, it became clear: our hearts are sick with sin, and we need a Healer.

While the situation is incredibly urgent, our salvation is not a hopeless cause. Learn more about our need for a Healer– and how Jesus fills that need– here.

This prayer is for Mercy, Sarah, Grace, and Deborah, as well as their classmates– both free and in captivity. You can pray along, or use it as a guide for prayer requests for the girls.

Dear King Jesus,
We just praise You and we thank You for education. Lord Jesus, we thank You for the miraculous minds You have given us, and Jesus, we thank You that You gave them to us to use for Your glory. King Jesus, we pray on behalf of those 276 girls who were while trying to use their brains at their school in Chibok, Nigeria. Lord Jesus, You know every girl by name; Your thoughts and ways are higher than ours (Isaiah 55:8-9). 
Jesus, we pray to You now on behalf of those girls. Captive or free, Jesus, You have given them their hearts and minds, and we cannot imagine the trauma inflicted on both of them. King Jesus, You are the Wonderful Counselor (Isaiah 9:6), and You understand them on levels that even they themselves do not understand.
Jesus, You not only know them deeply; You Love them deeply. Jesus, You were with these beautiful girls as they thought their lives were over, and You are there now, with each of them that have called on Your Great Name. We trust You in this, Lord Jesus. We pray now, King Jesus, that You would heal the hearts and minds of each one of these Precious Jewels, and King Jesus, restore back to them what the enemy has tried to steal. 
Lastly, King Jesus, we pray for the education, and the relationships, of all of these girls. King Jesus, we pray that as You heal hearts and minds, You would use Your people here on this earth to Love these girls, and Jesus, we pray Your light would shine when it gets too dark to see, whether that’d be direct or through Your comforting people. We thank You for all this, Lord Jesus.
Jesus, we pray over Deborah, Sarah, Mercy, and Grace, and Jesus, we pray You would bless their studies. We pray, King Jesus, You would give them a passion for learning, but more than anything, Jesus, we pray they would have a deep desire to Love and Know You more. Jesus, we also pray for their classmates, both free and still in captivity. Jesus, we pray that those girls still in Nigeria would come to know You personally; as they know You, we pray You would give them guidance on what you would have them to do with their lives, whether it would be school or not. King Jesus, we know You are in control, and we pray that those still held captive by Boko Haram would know You personally, and would not be brainwashed into the ways of Islam or Boko Haram. Jesus, may all people know, especially in that camp, King Jesus, that You are God, and no one else. We pray that even Boko Haram members would repent, and come to know You, Lord Jesus. Show them their need for a Healer– You– and Jesus, transform their lives with Your Gospel and Your Love. We pray all this in Your Name, King Jesus. Amen. 

Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing, and you say, ‘Good-bye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well’—but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do?” (James 2:15-16, NLT).

If you would like to help practically, you can help one (or both) way(s):
– You can donate to the Chibok Girls’ Scholarship Fund at Canyonville Christian Academy. This will go towards costs arising from tuition at Canyonville Christian Academy– the girls are planning to study there for 2 years.
– If you don’t have money, but still want to make a difference, you can ask Nigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari, to locate– and publically report the whereabouts of– the remaining, missing Chibok girls by April 14th, 2016 through signing this petition. This is the initial step in finding and freeing the Chibok Girls, as well as the initial step in transparency– and healing– for those affected. 

Thank you– “May the LORD repay you for what you have done. May you be richly rewarded by the LORD, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge” (Ruth 2:12). Jesus bless you!

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