A little child, probably around 3 years of age, drinks from a tin cup, held up by their mother. On their head, a plastic IV nodule is attached, so that nurses can transfer fluids into their frail, young body.
In a region that normally holds 60,000 people, approximately 140,000 Nigerian refugees have flooded in, fighting and running from Boko Haram. Without much space to hold them, many refugees stand in lines for aid and food, while others, not unlike the child described in the paragraph above, lie motionless, starving to death in makeshift medical camps.
In a shocking, heartbreaking news article made by The Guardian Nigeria, it has been reported that nearly 2.6 million Nigerians have been displaced– driven from their homes– since the insurgency began (source).
There is news that is even more disturbing: Although severely under-reported, there have been more refugees in the past nine months in Monguno than have been detained in all of Europe (source). What does this mean? It means that thousands– quite possibly millions– of people have been forgotten– left behind, out of sight, out of mind, for months, with aid only coming to help most recently.
But while shocking statistics abound on the amount of displaced people in Northern Nigeria without a home or food this season, they all come down to this: There is a massive amount of people, who, for one reason or another, have largely gone unheard in their suffering. These people are starving for food; but so much more, for love, and for feeling like– and actually knowing– that they matter.
“In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”
(1 John 4:9-10, KJV)
During this time of the season, at least in the United States, there is MUCH to do: family to see, food to eat, celebrations to be had, houses to clean and decorate– it is easy for one to lose sight of the world around them, with so much hustling and bustling.
With Thanksgiving just ended, many have reflected upon the gifts they are thankful for. And, as Christmas is starting to be in the air (at least, on the radios, and in stores), one starts to think about the reason for the season, the reason why Christ-followers all around the world truly celebrate: Jesus Christ’s birth. While this too can easily be forgotten amidst the presents, tinsel, and Black Friday Christmas deals, the story of Christ coming to earth is the ultimate narrative– a narrative that this world is, whether they know it or not, dying to hear.
The message of John 4– and the message of the nativity– is simple: God gave. While the Christian will usually think of Christ coming to earth when thinking of the birth of Christ, it is a beautiful thing to ponder the fact that He was sent: that God the Father gave his only begotten son, and what a sacrifice this truly was. As one thinks of Christ, who “was there in the beginning” (as evidenced by John 1:1-3), and saw the whole world formed, fallen, and in chaos and despair, it is a marvel that He would come to that dark, disgusting, painful world, to die.
But why did God give Jesus to the world? Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist, being filled with the Holy Spirit, exclaimed something beautiful about Jesus (who was in Mary’s womb at the time):
“Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for he hath visited and redeemed his people, 69 And hath raised up an horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David; 70 As he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since the world began: 71 That we should be saved from our enemies, and from the hand of all that hate us; 72 To perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and to remember his holy covenant; 73 The oath which he sware to our father Abraham, 74 That he would grant unto us, that we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies might serve him without fear, 75 In holiness and righteousness before him, all the days of our life. 76 And thou, child, shalt be called the prophet of the Highest: for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways; 77 To give knowledge of salvation unto his people by the remission of their sins, 78 Through the tender mercy of our God; whereby the dayspring from on high hath visited us, 79 To give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.”
(Luke 1:68-79, KJV)
God not only saw the darkness– He saw the people “that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death” (Luke 1:79). God the Father gave Jesus Christ to this world, because God Loved, and God saw.
God the Father saw those sitting in the darkness; and as He saw them, He heard them. “And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob,” Exodus 2:24 proclaims; and, just as God heard the cries of the Israelites, suffering from their captivity to the Egyptians, He heard the cries of mankind, suffering under the weight of sin and death. God saw; God heard; and so, full of Perfect Love, God sent.
To Listen & Act
When thinking of the vast goodness of God– that He would give God the Son, Jesus Christ, to this world, to save them from their sins– it fills the hearts of those who Love Him, with complete and utter Joy. What kind of Love the Father has lavished! Under the wonderful weight of realizing all God the Father has given us, one Truth becomes apparent: Because Jesus heard mankind’s cry for help, it becomes the hearts of those who have accepted Him to hear the cries of those who are still crying out.
However one acts, in reaction to their cries, may differ based on how Christ leads them to act; but one thing is for certain: to hear the cries of those in distress, and not act, is to ignore.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16, KJV). God so loved the world– and acted. Let us do the same. ❤
Do you know Jesus?
In John 3, Jesus is talking to a man named Nicodemus: a person who, though he was a Pharisee, and “a leader of the People,” could not understand Jesus’ Words. Trying to help Nicodemus understand, Jesus used a story from the Old Testament that would make sense to Him. “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16, KJV). (Read the story Christ is talking about in Numbers 21.)
The snake bite of death in the lives of mankind– caused by our own sin– just like the Israelites, was cured by Christ, who was “lifted up” on the cross, at Calvary. Today, Christ’s call is the same. “…for I am the Lord that healeth thee” (Exodus 15:26, KJV).
Are you in need of healing? Physical, emotional, and mental brokenness is only proof of the fact that sin and death are prevalent in this world, and of the true spiritual healing all of humanity needs, by coming to Christ. Read of the God who can heal you– and what He has already done to heal you, spiritually– here.
Please pray with me…
“Dear Father God,
You are good! No matter what the situation is like, we cannot thank You enough for sending Your only Son, so that we can know that even in the darkest of times, that You are good to us– and You never change. We thank You that we can say You are good.
We see so much darkness, around us. On the news, and in our very own lives, there is SO MUCH pain.
Father God, I thank You for knowing that pain, in sending Jesus to this broken world, to die for our sin.
Right now, as we have seen the extreme starvation and need for medical intervention in these people’s lives, we pray for the starvation going on at all levels: physically, mentally, spiritually, and emotionally.
Dear Lord Jesus,
I pray for these people, and I pray that You would fill them up. Please help Your People to stand against this darkness, and to “fill” others spiritually, as they share Your Good News. As men and women become desperate for survival, I pray that You would please bring them to Your Throne, so that they can realize that You alone fulfill their every need, and heal their every disease.
I pray that Your People, no mater who they are, would seek You in how to best assist these victims of Boko Haram violence.
Please fill them, Your People, in Northern Nigeria, with ALL they need to share Your Gospel, whether that would be to Boko Haram Members, or to the internally displaced peoples around them. Please, Father God, bring even the disgusting members of Boko Haram to Yourself, and help us to pray for them, as well.
May Your Word go forth in power– and may a revival happen, in these IDP Camps.
We pray for continued relief– and that You would show us how to take action, in love, for these people, however You lead us.
In Jesus’ Name,
If you believe Christ is leading you to give to those currently aiding displaced peoples, this post, dedicated to reputable Christian (and a few non-Christian) nonprofits currently on the ground in crisis areas, is a great place to start looking and praying about giving to. (Most of them do not know they are on this list. They are nonprofits I truly prayed over, investigated, and wrote about, with the belief that they are reputable. No sense of sponsorship has gone on for their place in this post, whatsoever.) It is just a friendly resource I was led to make available to those interested in giving!