Hope in 2016: How the Church can #BringBackHisGirls

The year of 2015 was one of many new beginnings for the country of Nigeria. Some of the biggest ones were:

  • The election of Muhammadu Buhari as president of Nigeria. In March of 2015, after delaying election day by six weeks due to national security and Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) preparedness worries, General Buhari won out against Goodluck Jonathan, the president at the time. At the time of his election, men and women alike celebrated the victory, ushering Buhari in with the sounds of shouts, songs, and chants proclaiming, “Change! Change!” and “Sai (Only) Buhari!”
  • Other positive changes abounded, too: the Nigerian army, along with the Multinational Joint Task Force, routed– and ruined– Boko Haram’s caliphate, pushing them into smaller territories of land, and degrading the insurgency’s offense to sporadic, soft-target suicide bombings (source).
  • Slum-like IDP camps, stuffed with displaced peoples from the insurgency in 2014, were investigated for human trafficking offenses; and, displaced peoples from many settlements in the foreign surrounding countries were encouraged to make their trek back home in the fall of 2015 (source).

In President Buhari’s live media chat on December 30th, 2015, many of these things, along with corruption and the economy, were all discussed, but there was one subject whose lack of information– truly, lack of change–  was cause for disappointment.

For every victory stated above, there is still one incredibly important cause that saw little to no physical developments in the year of 2015.

Over one year and 250 days later, 219 schoolgirls from Chibok, Nigeria– 219 individual hearts, minds, and souls– remain missing.

When asked about the girls’ well being, the answer is solemn.
“No credible information.” [1]

In all 365 days of the year 2015, the public has not seen or heard any truly verified updates regarding the girls. Yet, there is hope. 

Seeing it from Jesus’ View

“But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day,” encourages Peter in 2 Peter 3:8. Because Christ was “taking too long” to return in His second coming, Peter’s audience was undergoing persecution and mockery for believing that Christ would come again at all. No doubt disheartened by the fact that Christ seems “slow” in His coming, Peter had to lovingly remind these Christians that Christ’s timing is not our timing, and the perceived slowness they were experiencing was not slowness at all, but that rather, “The Lord… [being] patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). The church, overwhelmed by these issues, needed to see things from Jesus’ view.

This is not entirely different from today. So many in the worldwide Church– not as in a local church building, but as in the worldwide body of believers in Christ– have heard of the Chibok girls’ tragedy, and are “be[ing] alert,” “always… praying for all the Lord’s people” as Ephesians 6:18 says. But as the days drag on, and little to nothing seems to be happening, discouragement starts to set into the believer’s heart. What is a Christian to do when circumstances don’t seem to change? Though chances seem bleak, there are many things believers can do in 2016 to bring hope into this seemingly hopeless situation.

Putting Our Eyes on Christ

Just as the church Peter was talking to, putting one’s eyes on Christ is imperative if the believer wants to be encouraged and steadfast amidst bleak circumstances. This is why David, in Psalm 61, cries out to God, “lead me to the rock that is higher than I” (Psalm 61:2). Crying and reaching out to Jesus through such storms not only strengthens the believer; it gives the believer new, profound, divine insight into what is happening. Truly, looking to the “Author and Perfecter of our Faith” (Hebrews 12:2) gives the Christian a solid rock to stand on, and fills the present darkness with Christ’s Light.

The Importance of Abiding in Christ

The Church at large, if it ever wants to be effective in ministering to the situation concerning the Chibok girls, needs to be abiding in Christ. Jesus illustrates this in John 15.

Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.”
(John 15:4-7, NIV)

As the Church looks to Christ in this situation, it cannot help but come to trust in and walk with Him more closely. The integral part of abiding in Christ is “abiding,” or “dwelling,” in His Word (John 8:31-32). Simply, this is done by regularly reading Jesus’ Word, the Bible, and humbly yielding to the Holy Spirit as He renews one’s mind and heart with it. The Psalmist once wrote in Psalm 119, “I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you” (Psalm 119:11). As he hides God’s Word in his heart, the Christian is continually formed into the image of Christ.

Abiding in Christ, and allowing the Holy Spirit to lead and guide the believer, is everything the Church– especially the Church in Nigeria– needs if it is to do Christ’s work. Abiding in Christ, and “walking in the Spirit” as it is called in Galatians 5, ensures that the body does not  become apathetic or spiritually dead. As His hands and feet, those who are willing to abide in Christ and yield to His leading can be used by Christ in huge ways spiritually, whether it would be to encourage, teach, edify, or even rebuke. Walking in the Spirit also enables the Church to give practically and physically too. Providing wisdom and insight into how to steward resources and serve others, the Church in Nigeria is able to help people who, in this specific situation, are spiritually, emotionally, and physically depleted in the most severe ways possible.

Praying for the Church

The Church as a whole, though maybe not within reach of what is happening in Northern Nigeria, is able to do one vital, if not crucial, activity to serve those actively working to find and free the Chibok girls: Pray. Coming to Christ in prayer, while it may not seem to be doing much physically, is actually incredibly powerful in fighting the spiritual battle at the root of such horrible situations as the Chibok girls’ kidnapping. As seen in scenes such as Daniel 10:12-13, and verse 20, prayer has a real impact on the spiritual war happening all around us.

Then he (the man who appeared to him) continued, ‘Do not be afraid, Daniel. Since the first day that you set your mind to gain understanding and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come in response to them. But the prince of the Persian kingdom resisted me twenty-one days. Then Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me, because I was detained there with the king of Persia.’ …So he said, ‘Do you know why I have come to you? Soon I will return to fight against the prince of Persia, and when I go, the prince of Greece will come…'”
(Daniel 10:12-13, 20, NIV, words in parentheses mine)

Though much is not explained about the spiritual realm, one thing is sure: The body of Christ praying for one another is powerful, and can truly make a world of difference when it seems all physical hope is gone.

In 2016, though hope seems to be waning for the Chibok girls, all is not lost. As the body of Christ comes together, and, most importantly, comes closer to Christ, Christ can do miraculous things in and through us on behalf of the Chibok girls. Because, to our God, to whom a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years a day– to Jesus, the God of Angel Armies– nothing is impossible.

***
Do you believe that you are being led to take practical steps, as well as spiritual ones, to help bring the schoolgirls of Chibok back to spiritual and physical freedom? If so, please consider reading, signing, and sharing this petition asking Nigeria’s president, Muhammadu Buhari, to locate and officially report the whereabouts of the Chibok girls by April 14th, 2016!

Please also pray over this petition, as it will be sent to President Buhari by the end of January 2016. Thank you, and Jesus bless you.

[1] https://www.naij.com/682316-live-president-buhari-hosts-first-media-chat.html  


Do you know Jesus?

“‘Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus,
and to take him at His Word;
just to rest upon His promise,
and to know, ‘Thus saith the Lord.’
Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him!
How I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er!
Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus!
O for grace to trust Him more!”
(‘Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus, Louisa M. R. Stead)

Over 2,000 years ago, a man named Jesus Christ stepped on the scene of this fallen world, and said, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life” (John 8:12). Later on, He would claim to be “the Way, the Truth, and the Life,” and that “no one would get to the Father except through [Him]” (John 14:6). Jesus did not merely point to the way to God; He claimed to be the Way to God.

These claims would cost everything. Though completely True, the religious leaders of the day, and the Jewish people as a whole, rejected Jesus– and, because of “blasphemy,” killed Him in the worst way possible: by crucifixion (John 19:7). Little did they know, that as they hung Jesus on that cross, He hung there, not because He was forced, but of His own accord– and that, in dying, He was dying for the sins of mankind (John 10:18; Galatians 3:13).

To this day, people believe many different things about Jesus. The book of John says, “He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. …For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” (John 1:11-13, 17, NIV).

It has been said that Jesus was either “the Son of God, a madman, or something worse” (CS Lewis). According to the bible, God’s Word, Jesus was (and is) the Son of God– God Himself– and is the only way to have a relationship with the Father. Do you believe Jesus is the Son of God?

If you do, please know the Bible says that if you declare with your mouth “Jesus is Lord,” professing your faith, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead– being justified by faith– you will be saved (Romans 10:9-10). If you believe Jesus is Lord and Savior of your life, or if you would like to make Him Lord and Savior of your life, you can say a simple prayer of faith asking Him into your heart and life, just like this one:

“Dear Jesus, I believe that You are the Son of God– God Himself (John 10:30). I believe that You were born of a virgin, and lived a sinless life as God in human form, to die for the sins of mankind (Matthew 1:18; Hebrews 4:15; Philippians 2:6-8). I believe that You rose again, three days later; and I believe that you are now sitting by the right hand of the Father (1 Corinthians 15:4; Ephesians 1:20).

I have sinned against You in word and deed, but I pray now that You would forgive me of my sins, and come into my heart and life, so that I might live for you, and live with You eternally in heaven (Romans 3:23; Revelation 3:20; Ephesians 2:10; John 3:16). Thank You, Jesus! It is in Your Name I pray (John 14:14), Amen.”

If you have asked Jesus into your heart and life, congratulations! You are brand new (2 Corinthians 5:17)! Please go here to let us know. Click here to learn more about our amazing Savior, and His Gospel– and, as Jesus commands in Matthew 28:19, tell all those you know! Jesus bless you! 🙂



Please pray for…
– Wars all over the world, especially the war against terror.
– The spiritual warfare going on all around us in the form of all false religion and the moral decay of society. 
Pray our eyes would be opened by Jesus to the things unseen, all around us.
– The worldwide Church; that it would be unified and abiding in Jesus.
– The Church in Nigeria. 
Pray for true revival, that false prophets and pastors would be rooted out (in the worldwide church as well), and for pastors and ministers, that Jesus would strengthen them and keep them from the evil one (2 Thessalonians 3:3).
– Victims of the insurgency. Please pray for those who are displaced; wounded physically, mentally, and emotionally; and especially for children orphaned from the insurgency. Pray that they would come to know Christ, and would be restored in Him alone.
– World governments and militaries, especially in Nigeria. Please pray for all world leaders, and specifically M. Buhari to come to salvation, as He (and so many others) are muslim.
– The Chibok girls and their families. Pray that, if it would be Jesus’ will, the Chibok girls would be freed in 2016. *PRAISE REPORT: PRESIDENT BUHARI IS WILLING TO NEGOTIATE WITH BOKO HARAM FOR THE CHIBOK GIRLS. Please be praying that President Buhari, government officials, military commanders, and all others involved would be led and guided by Christ in this, and would have wisdom in dealing with Boko Haram, if it happens.

As always, I praise Jesus for your prayers and support! I pray that you would have an ever-deepening relationship with Christ, and a deep, intimate, fruitful prayer life in 2016.

Keep praying, friends — Jesus hears you! 🙂

 

 

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