On the Sunday morning of October 16th, 2016, 21 of the original kidnapped school girls from Chibok, Nigeria, celebrated their freedom during a church service in the capital of Abuja.
Surrounded by their loved ones, clad in beautifully vibrant outfits, the 21 Chibok school girls were filmed dancing and singing for joy (the video can be seen here). Living in a state that one never could have dreamed of, this scene of the girls, dancing with a spring in their step, was no doubt a little bit of Heaven seen on Earth.
The Cost of Freedom
The girls’ freedom was not without cost. Freed, in a deal brokered by the International Committee of the Red Cross and the Swiss Government, reportedly cost the Swiss Government millions of dollars, while more reports have claimed that the girls were freed in exchange for four Boko Haram militants. While the exact deal has not yet been confirmed, one knows they were freed, at an incredibly high price.
With 197 young women still in captivity, and at least 83 still held by the faction of Boko Haram these 21 Chibok girls were freed from, freedom still seems far away, though it has now become a possible reality, to the watching world.
Little by little, the promising words of Isaiah 62, are being realized, in the lives of those affected by the Chibok kidnapping. While Isaiah 62, in its original context, was written for the nation of Israel, Christ used the passage for Isaiah 62 Ministry, to quite clearly express the Hope, Joy, Freedom, and Redemption these girls were to experience– even in the midst of the darkness, that was the first weeks after their kidnapping. “The nations will see your righteousness,” it reads,
“World leaders will be blinded by your glory.
And you will be given a new name
by the Lord’s own mouth.
The Lord will hold you in his hand for all to see—
a splendid crown in the hand of God.
Never again will you be called “The Forsaken City”
or “The Desolate Land.”
Your new name will be “The City of God’s Delight” [Hephzibah],
and “The Bride of God,” [Beulah],
for the Lord delights in you
and will claim you as his bride.
Your children will commit themselves to you, O Jerusalem,
just as a young man commits himself to his bride.
Then God will rejoice over you
as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride.”
(Isaiah 62:2-5, NLT, emphasis mine)
It is clear to see that, little by little, this joyous redemption is occurring, for the Chibok girls and their families, in huge ways.
Staying In Bondage
But, amidst the celebration, there is still a huge amount of young women actually unwilling to leave Boko Haram. As reported, in this article, over 100 of the Chibok schoolgirls do not want to be freed, either out of the fear that they will be stigmatized and harassed by those in their hometowns, or because they have been radicalized by Boko Haram, after being made into their wives.
To hear that these young girls may want to remain in captivity breaks the hearts of those who have waited, and are still waiting, for their release. Yet, it is the sad truth: whether it would be fear, or believing the enemy’s lies, these precious young women are choosing to stay bound, whether they realize it, or not.
In reality, this is very much how many people live their lives. Bound by the enemy, some people refuse to get free, and to receive the freedom that Christ freely gives them. Some may not even realize that they are believing a lie; others may know that they are in bondage, but remain helpless, just the same.
The Wonder of the Gospel
This is the pressing reason of why it is so important to have Christ, and His Gospel, shared. The Gospel is not some cliche, religious word, nor is it just “apart” of Christian faith culture. Instead, the Gospel, which means “good news” in Greek, is THE most important news anyone could hear.
The word “Gospel,” and the Good News of Christ found within it, has been so used in American and Christian culture that it has seemingly lost its power and true meaning– sometimes, sadly, even to those who believe and practice it. But the word “Gospel” itself is derived from the word “euangelos,” meaning “messenger,” “one who brought a message of victory…” (source). The Bible confirms the power of this glorious message in Romans 1:16. “For I am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ. It is the power of God at work, saving everyone who believes—the Jew first and also the Gentile.”
Many people would say they know this message of salvation pretty well: that as the all-famous verse, John 3:16, expresses, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” While this verse is very well-known, even to those who don’t believe it, it’s awe and wonder should never be lost.
Slaves to Sin
The Apostle Paul, when explaining the reality of Jesus’ Good News to those in Rome, compared coming to know Christ to being ransomed, as a slave.
“21 So just as sin ruled over all people and brought them to death, now God’s wonderful grace rules instead, giving us right standing with God and resulting in eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. …15 Well then, since God’s grace has set us free from the law, does that mean we can go on sinning? Of course not! 16 Don’t you realize that you become the slave of whatever you choose to obey? You can be a slave to sin, which leads to death, or you can choose to obey God, which leads to righteous living. 17 Thank God! Once you were slaves of sin, but now you wholeheartedly obey this teaching we have given you.”
(Romans 5:21; 6:15-17, NLT, emphasis mine)
At one time, before one knew Christ, they were held captive by the “law of sin and death”– bound by the sin, that Adam and Eve committed, and to the death of separation from God, that sin created. While mankind tried to become free, through the keeping of the Law of Moses (John 7:19), no amount of obedience and works is enough to break this bondage to sin and death.
Ransomed by Jesus Christ
But at the right time, “when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly” (Romans 5:6, NIV). Knowing that mankind could not pay its sin debt– even through the grandest of good works or the most detailed keeping of the Law– Christ, God in human form, came down and paid our sin debt for those who believe. In effect, He set all who believe on Him free, from the wages of sin and death– bought and ransomed by God (Romans 6:23; 1 Peter 1:18-19).
Believers were bought with a price– no longer slaves to sin, and free to do as Christ commands us to. But isn’t that just more drudging, joyless slavery? One can ask. This is the beautiful Truth: No. Instead of “slaving” for salvation– lost, and floundering to be saved by one’s own efforts, those who believe on Christ become the very children of God: “Now you are no longer a slave but God’s own child. And since you are his child, God has made you his heir” (Galatians 4:7, NLT).
From Slave to Child
What does this mean? It means that a Believer is saved, no matter what they do or don’t do; and, as children of a Loving Father, they can choose to obey their Living Father’s commands, not out of obligation, but out of knowing that His way is best. As His heirs, Believers are given all that Christ has (Ephesians 3:8); the best of which is an unbreakable, eternal, personal, Love relationship with the God who loved us first (1 John 4:19).
For the price of the blood of Christ, Believers have been forever set free, to live in Relationship with Him. This Gospel News is not only some Good News; it is the Only News that can truly set people free. With this in mind, Believers are equipped with the very news that can liberate those still floundering, lost, and enslaved. This freeing News must be shared.
As the world celebrates the freedom of the now 22 Chibok girls, let us also keep those, who have yet to be freed, in prayer. That they, and those in Believer’s lives, would be freed, both physically, and spiritually. After all, only Jesus can break the chains of bondage, and help us to freely dance, just like the Chibok girls. 🔹
Do you know Jesus?
“We love each other because he loved us first.”
(1 John 4:19, NLT)
“What other king leaves a throne? What other king leaves his glory to die?” A popular, profound, worship song asks, as the music plays (hear it here).
This worship song does not ask something easy; nor does it ask, for the sake of finding an answer. Jesus Christ, “who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:6-8).
Why would one, who has done nothing wrong, come to die for the sins of people who rejected Him?
The answer is simple, yet amazing: Because He so loved the world.
On a much more personal level, He died, not just for all of mankind, but for you. You, whoever you are, before you were ever born, were considered worth dying for, by the God who knew and foresaw you, even then.
Philippians 2 goes on: “Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:9-11, ESV).
Meet the Lord of lords, who left His throne, and died for you, here.
Please pray with me…
“Dear Father God,
You amaze us with Your power, Father. You are beautiful, O Lord, King Jesus. Thank You for hearing our prayers, and for acting upon those prayers, in any way you see fit.
We praise You, that it is Your Heart, that people would be freed, healed, and restored. We praise You, that You know how to best free, heal, and restore people, even if it doesn’t look the way we would sometimes like it to.
Father God, we are so thankful, that you have FREED these 22 young women from CAPTIVITY and BONDAGE!!! You are a GOOD, GOOD FATHER, Father God! We stay in awe of You, Father, and are so thankful for the fact that You are our Savior.
Father God, we just lift these 22 young girls up to You, now. Father God, please continue to make Yourself very real in these young women’s lives… please continue to free them, spiritually, mentally, and physically, of all they have been through. We know that ultimately, this trauma will stay with them for the rest of their lives, and we pray that You would help them at every turn, to grow, heal, and change, always becoming closer to You. Let this tragedy be turned around for Your Glory, and their good, in their lives.
Father God, we also pray for the Chibok girls that are still captive. For whatever reason, Father God, please bring these young women to You– please work and move powerfully, on their behalf, so that they might trust in You, and that even the members of Boko Haram would turn and repent to You. Please save these young girls, spiritually, and physically, however You Will.
Father God, please help the worldwide church– but more specifically, the churches in Northern Nigeria– to continue to point these young girls to You, and to the healing, comfort, and restoration that You provide. Father, please give Your People the resources they need to love, edify, uplift, and just “do life” with these young women.
Please continue to use the people of this world– Believer or not– to set these people free. Let them ALL come to know that You are the author of Salvation, the Giver of Life, and the Lover of our Souls.
In Jesus’ Name I pray, Amen.”
Thank you for your continued prayers and support! Please comment or contact me with any prayer requests you may have, or if you need a listening ear. Jesus Loves You! ❤