As of late, the Nigerien army (the army of Niger), after being attacked countless times by Boko Haram and Al-Qaeda, have launched what they call “Operation Barkhane” against the terrorists. France has decided to fly drones over Northern Niger; and, as technology and a passionate hate for both groups of terrorists has progressed, Niger is ready to do the battle needed to save those still alive after all the damage Al-Qaeda and Boko Haram have done.
This is the answer to many prayers for Justice, and for the end to the rampant violence and terrorism that has ruined the lives of at least 2.6 million displaced people. This is also the answer to prayers for vengeance from the innumerable people hurting after losing their loved ones to Boko Haram.
In light of this, the sentence about to be written seems despicable.
It is not written lightly. But, it is True, nonetheless: the sick, cowardly members of Boko Haram are in just as much need of prayer as those they have so viciously persecuted, attacked, pillaged, raped, and murdered.
This sounds more than insane. It sounds completely insulting to those whose lives have been ravaged by those members of Boko Haram. Praying for one’s enemies– even the ones that have so deeply, deeply wounded a person– is no doubt an incredibly difficult thing to do. Yet, it is something Jesus Christ explicitly calls us to do.
In one of His most well-known sermons, often called “The Sermon on the Mount,” Jesus speaks about not only praying for one’s enemies, but of loving them as well.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemies.’ 44 But I say to you, love your enemies. Pray for those who hurt you. 45 If you do this, you will be true children of your Father in heaven. He causes the sun to rise on good people and on evil people, and he sends rain to those who do right and to those who do wrong.”
(Matthew 5:43-45, NCV)
While many worldviews point to self-love, and “loving mankind as a whole,” the feat of truly loving your enemies can only be done through Christ, alone.
What is Christ’s reason behind this command? Is it to encourage people to “kill them [their enemies] with kindness? While that is one aspect of praying for and loving one’s enemies, it goes much deeper than this. When we love, and pray for, our enemies, we are obeying, and becoming more like, God, as revealed in Jesus Christ.
The Bible says, “We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19, NIV). This Love God, Jesus Christ, has for us is not a love based in or fueled by emotion alone; rather, it is a choice, and the most costly choice, at that. God, our Creator and the Sustainer of all life, died for the sin of all mankind.
What many don’t realize is that, apart from believing in Jesus Christ as one’s Personal Lord and Savior, humanity in it’s natural state (because of our sin) is “at war” with God, completely in rebellion towards Him in every way. Ephesians 2 describes it as this:
“As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath.”
(Ephesians 2:1-3, NIV)
No matter what a person does, this enmity cannot be helped. We are helpless in our hostility toward God. But, while we are helpless, dying in our sin, and separated from God, God, “who is rich in mercy,” did what we could not do: reconcile us to Himself (Ephesians 2:4-6).
When Christ looked out at the humanity who chose to sin and create emnity between themselves and Him, He did not scoff, or consider us a lost cause. No. Instead, He became intimately involved in the broken lives of those He created– choosing to “step out into darkness,” instead of running away from it.
Instead of pushing the unlovable away, He chose to draw them near.
Instead of judging sinners, He came to save them.
And on the Cross at Calvary, Jesus did not remove Himself from the excruciating pain we inflicted on Him; nor did He give up on His plan to redeem us and choose to condemn us in anger, instead.
On the cross at Calvary, Christ did something radical: He prayed.
“Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.'”
(Luke 23:34a, NIV)
In light of this, let us do the same.
As the men and women of Boko Haram wage war against Christ, just as we once did, I pray we would combat them with something much more powerful than physical weapons: I pray we would combat their deeds with prayer, knowing that, in the process, we will ultimately be loving their souls as Christ does.
Do you know Jesus?
Despite what many say– that we are all “Children of God,”– the Bible says that at one point in time, we were all quite the opposite; we were all “Children of wrath”: people who were apart from Christ, and therefore, apart from God.
Do you find yourself in the camp of biblically being a “Child of Wrath”?
Well, there is Good News for you. “Then he [God] picked us up and set us down in highest heaven in company with Jesus, our Messiah” (Ephesians 2:6, The Message).
There is nothing you can do to “reach” heaven; nor is there anything you can do, no matter how pious, to receive God’s grace. Christ paid it all.
Meet the One who paid it all for your reconciliation to Him, here.
Please pray for…
– The victims of Boko Haram, and Al-Qaeda, in Niger and its surrounding countries. Pray specifically for the 2 million people still displaced.
– Those men, women, and children who are still in captivity. Please pray that, as Niger, Nigeria, Cameroon, and Benin fight back against the Boko Haram insurgency, these people would be freed, in Jesus’ will and time!
– Those who are grieving the loss of their loved ones. Pray they would come to know Jesus, in their grief, and would be comforted, as they mourn (Matthew 5:4).
– That the militaries of Nigeria, Niger, Chad, and Benin would continue to fight, and gain ground, in the war against Boko Haram and Al-Qaeda.
– Amina Ali, and countless other newly freed captives, such as Christina Ijabla, who are still reeling after being freed in April of 2016.
– That the men, women, and children voluntarily involved in Boko Haram would see, and know, Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.