Ready to Be Free

After almost two years of little to no action from the Nigerian government, to secure the freedom of 276– now, 218– young schoolgirls, from the Boko Haram insurgency, Nigeria’s president, Muhammadu Buhari, has declared, at the end of August, that Nigeria is now willing to negotiate with “bona fide leaders of Boko Haram,” for the release of the Chibok school girls (source). This newest development has spurred on new hope for the release of the Chibok girls, who have not been physically seen by the outside world– but are reported to be alive, as of December 2015. While Boko Haram has stated that a few of these precious young women have been killed by airstrikes, there is still sufficient cause to believe that the Chibok girls are alive, and ready to be free.

As this major development has occurred, one other major news development has come up: Aliko Dangote, called “The Richest African” by SuccessStory.com, has vowed to further support Internally Displaced Peoples, who have been chased out of their homes by Boko Haram militants. This welcomed news has stirred up the question, in this writer: “What can be done by Believers– and the Church, worldwide– to “rebuild the walls” of Northern Nigeria, and its people?

The moral responsibility of those within the church, to “Do Justly, Love Mercy, and Walk Humbly with your [their] God,” is spoken of all throughout scripture (Micah 6:8). James speaks of this biblical responsibility in James 1.

“Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.”
(James 1:27, NKJV)

While this charge is not AT ALL claiming that people must do these “good works” to be accepted and saved by Jesus (Ephesians 2:8-9), it is encouraging readers to live for Christ, in the sight of His Grace, Mercy, Love, Forgiveness, and COMPLETE gift of Sure Salvation. Jesus’ Love has saved and transformed those who believe; now filled with His Loving Spirit, they can freely choose to love Him back, and truly love those around them.

James is challenging readers: if they are already saved, citizens and saints, daughters and sons of the Most High God, shouldn’t that be clearly shown in their lives, as they bring glory to Christ, and Good News to those who need it the most?
News that Jesus can mend the world’s broken hearts.

News that He will provide for families, and is a Loving, Protective Father to those who call on His Name– even to those who have never had an earthly one.

These are the things one gets to do, when it comes to visiting the widows, and orphans. As for “keep [keeping] oneself unspotted from the world,” it is not a charge to somehow condemn, or restrict, Believers from living in the real world. This verse, proclaims an amazing Truth: Believers do not need to be who they once were. Rather, they are washed whiter than snow, and given new hearts, that, as they become closer to Christ, no longer enjoy the dirtying, death-bringing sin of the world (Psalm 51:7). As sons and daughters of God, they, are freed to pursue Him without the “sin that so easily entangles” (Hebrews 12:1).

Such are the markers of confessing Christ with one’s lips. But, one can’t help but wonder: if a muslim man like Dangote partakes in such “good-doing,” what are some practical ways that Believers, who have the One, True, Living God living inside of them, can make a difference in the lives of those affected by this dark tragedy– as led by the Holy Spirit?

Below are three huge things, that one gets to do, concerning Boko Haram– and the Chibok girls that Boko Haram kidnapped.

Pray

if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”
(2 Chronicles 7:14, NIV)

While, at this point, the thought of prayer for and over Northern Nigeria seems almost cliche, prayer, for the Christian, is INCREDIBLY powerful– not necessarily because of the prayer itself, but because of who the prayer is to. While Believers may not always be able to see the direct effect of their prayers in a person’s life, there is still a very real, tangible purpose for prayer, especially in the lives of those affected by muslim extremists. People, all around the globe, irrespective of beliefs, pray. But, when Believers find themselves in prayer, they are talking to The One, True, Living God.

Praying to the God of the Universe does not have to be eloquent, or even long. What truly matters is the heart. This can be seen in Luke 11, as Jesus teaches His disciples how to pray (Luke 11:1-8). Rather than give a huge list of “must-do’s” to pray to God the Father, Jesus says a prayer from the heart. This highlights the fact that 1) prayer should not be religious, in nature, but relationship, based; and 2) prayer is not just for “special events,” or in serious situations. Rather, it should be continual.

Physically, it seems to do no good– or is a last-ditch effort– to pray. But when a prayer is prayed, in Faith, big things happen. “…The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective” (James 5:16b, NIV).

Give

“Do not say to your neighbor,
    ‘Come back tomorrow and I’ll give it to you’—
    when you already have it with you.”
(Proverbs 3:28, NIV)

Giving does not have to mean financially, though for many, it is the only way they see they can give. No; giving can be of your time, energy, attention, or, if one has this, they can use their public status, authority, or otherwise power, to leverage the cause of the poor and needy, especially in the case of the Chibok girls.

This, as stated in Philippians, is exactly what Christ did, for us: “Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:5-8)!

Jesus got empathetically, and physically, down into the dirtiness of mankind’s sin, and the death they brought on (1 Timothy 1:15). In true, perfect Love for all mankind, Jesus gave of Himself, sacrificially; and He did not give of Himself, unwillingly. Rather, He willingly gave all of Himself, dying the death that all of us deserved.

Jesus, in all that He did, gave generously. We, as His children, as led by His Holy Spirit, can do the same; whether it would be financially, or the giving of our time and talents, there is much one can do to remember, and honor, those who are still in captivity, and cannot speak– at least, at the moment– for themselves.

Speak Up

“Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves; ensure justice for those being crushed.”
(Proverbs 31:8, NLT)

Right now, it has been thousands of hours, and millions of minutes, since these 218 young girls last spoke, to the free world. While recently filmed videos of them show that at least some of them are well, their stories, mostly because of lack of huge news developments, are largely being untold to the outside world.

This should not be. It is understandable, that people have their own lives, and that it is difficult to keep updated on news stories; but for those who know and love Jesus, many situations around the world become heavy on their hearts, as the Holy Spirit asks us to simply rememberstand up for, and speak up for, those who have been unjustly silenced. After all, “The LORD is near the brokenhearted; He saves those crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:18, HCSB). If Jesus publicly declares, in His Word, the Bible, that He is near to those who are brokenhearted and oppressed, Believers should publicly declare this as well.

But it is not enough, sometimes, to only voice our solidarity. Just as a person who Loves somebody, cannot just say they Love someone, without backing it up with decisive action, it is not simply enough to say that we stand with the Chibok girls, without any intention of showing that support.

What this looks like, varies for everyone. But, as Christ guides Believers into speaking up, and standing up, for these invaluable young women– being empowered by His Holy Spirit, to do everything He leads them to– Jesus’ Kingdom is seen here, on Earth. Isn’t that what those affected long to see, most?

 

“Do Justly. Love Mercy. Walk Humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8’s challenge for Believers is both simple, and is yet incredibly difficult to stay true to, at times. But, with the Living God, Jesus Christ, on our side– continually reminding us that He has already won the battle against the world, the flesh, and the enemy–what is there left to fear?

 

Justice must be sought on behalf of the Chibok schoolgirls. They are ready to be free.

May we be “…God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe [clothing] yourselves [ourselves] with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience,” people who do not give up praying for, giving for, and speaking up for, these girls, until they are free (Colossians 3:12, NIV).



Do you know Jesus?

And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death–even death on a cross!
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.”
(Philippians 2:8-11, NIV)

Jesus was THE humble servant– and He showed all of humanity what Love looked like.

The world today has many theories, pictures, and ideas of what Love is; but, none are true. What’s more, none compare to that of a King– who would get off His throne, and enter a very dark, horrible world– to die for those who chose to rebel against Him, in the first place.

Perhaps you have tried to figure out what Love is. Perhaps you thought you knew what Love is– only to be wounded by the one you loved most.

Well, the Bible says that God is Love, and that God, Jesus Christ, Loved us first– and perfectly– before we ever Loved Him. Learn more about Him, and meet Him, here.


Pray along with me, if you would like…

“Father God,
I thank You, that we can come to You. You are amazing, Father God, and I thank You, for doing what we could never do– pay back our sin debt. Thank You for Loving us, so much, dear Jesus.

Father God, right now, I pray over each and every one of the 218 Chibok girls, who are still alive, and held captive. Dear Father God, I pray in Jesus’ Name, that You would continue to work in and through the Nigerian army/military, to find, rescue, and save these amazing young women, and all those who have been kidnapped, and held captive, too.

Father God, as You continue to work and move, I pray that we would, too. I pray it would not be a heavy, pressured, “duty” to stand up for, and love the Chibok girls, but that it would be a Joy to do. Remove all religious “have-to’s,” in our minds, Father God, and replace it with deep, deep desire, to see these people found, free, and healing, at the cost of our time, money, and convenience.

More than this, Father God, please move in and through those who believe on You, now, and please save, find, free, and heal these captives, spiritually. More important than anything, please bring the Chibok girls– and all those who do not know You, personally– into a personal, saving relationship, with You.

As You continue to stir this up in us, Father God, I pray that You would make us bold, and would continually lead us in all that You would have us to do. Empower us, by the Holy Spirit, Father God, and help us to live for You.

In Jesus’ Name I pray, Amen.”

Thank you for your prayers, and support!
Jerusalem, I have put guards on the walls to watch.

    They must not be silent day or night.
You people who remind the Lord of your needs in prayer
    should never be quiet.
You should not stop praying to him until he builds up Jerusalem
    and makes it a city all people will praise.”
(Isaiah 62:6-7, NCV)

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