Set Free at Christmas Time!

This Christmas,
Isaiah 62 Prayer Ministry would like to highlight both the joyous successes that Christ has given, as well as to remember the people still struggling in Northern Nigeria.

President Buhari and Vice President Osinbajo take a picture with the 21 freed Chibok girls.
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo take a formal picture with the 21 Chibok girls freed on October 13th, 2016. The 21 girls are Mary Usman Bulama, Jummai John, Blessing Abana, Lugwa Sanda, Comfort Habila, Maryam Basheer, Comfort Amos, Glory Mainta, Saratu Emannuel, Deborah Ja’afaru, Rahab Ibrahim, Helen Musa, Maryamu Lawan, Rebecca Ibrahim, Asabe Goni, Deborah Andrawus, Agnes Gapani, Saratu Markus, Glory Dama, Pindah Nuhu, and Rebecca Mallam.

Over three years ago, the town of Maiduguri had a strict curfew, causing markets and businesses to be abandoned, and citizens hidden in their homes, for fear of attacks from Boko Haram. Cities were being relentlessly attacked.

Two years ago, 219 young women, ages 16-18, were held captive, away from their parents, family, and loved ones. Tears over the inaction of the Nigerian government in the situation dampened the Christmas spirit. Suicide bombers were the tragic norm.

But while some of these things are still being worked out, there has been incredible change. In an article written by Thomson Reuters, Northern Nigerians in the city of Maiduguri are celebrating Christmas, again– the night air now filled with the hustle and bustle of outdoor markets, until the late night curfew of 10 pm.

More than this, Christian congregations have more than just re-commenced fellowshipping: they have taken to the streets, celebrating the Birth of Jesus Christ in the “predominantly muslim city” (source). In a city where Christians used to cower in fear under the oppression of Boko Haram, Christ has brought freedom and victory– to the point of His People being able to sing out His Praises, without fear.

In a larger sense, this is what Christ came to do, in the first place: to create a way, to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace” (Luke 1:79, NIV). Christ has indeed done this– and it is evident, in the worshipful notes of the hymns sang by His People, all over the world, but specifically in the city of Maiduguri.

“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion— to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor. They will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated; they will renew the ruined cities that have been devastated for generations.”
(Isaiah 61:1-4, NIV)

Jesus, while in the Jewish synagogue, read this scroll of Isaiah 61; after reading some of it, He said something deeply profound. “And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written… Then he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant and sat down. The eyes of everyone in the synagogue were fastened on him. He began by saying to them, Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing’” (Luke 4:17, 20-21, NIV). Jesus, in saying this, claimed to be the One God the Father had sent, to do all Isaiah 61 describes.

Jesus’ Words ring true, and countless, freed captives are just one proof of it. Countless Nigerians have been freed in the past year. From December 14th-21st of 2016,  1,880 Nigerians were freed by the Nigerian military from alone!!! (source). More than 2,000 people are FREE, to celebrate Christmas with their Loved Ones– while 564 Boko Haram Terrorists have been arrested, and now wait in custody for their hearings!!

And, in what was/is huge news, 21 of the 219 captive Chibok Schoolgirls were freed in October 2016!!! It has been reported that they are now being transported, to spend the holiday season with their families (source).

“I had given up hope of ever going home,” Goni, one of the Chibok girls, told an interviewer in the first interview had by any of the Chibok girls. It seemed like an almost impossible task, but yet, Christ did it! Two years ago, this was a fervent prayer in the hearts of innumerable people, all over the world. To see this prayer be answered in such a HUGE way is a huge cause for celebration and PRAISE to Jesus, our Savior!!!

Christ has done AMAZING things in the lives of those once deeply affected by Boko Haram. But there is still much more to be done, should Jesus tarry.

In January, the Chibok girls are to return to the capitol of Abuja for a “restoration process.” Talks of negotiations with Boko Haram to release more of the Chibok girls has been reported, as well, as said in this article.

Yet, many still struggle, starve, and are bound by both visible and invisible fetters. Pockets of the Nigerian military have reported going without food or water, millions in IDP camps go without basic care. Those, who have been freed, still hold onto deep mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical wounds, and countless people– including 196 of the Chibok schoolgirls– remain oppressed by Boko Haram. Goni, the freed young woman who was interviewed, “said the Chibok girls who were not released wept when the group of 21 was freed” (source).

But Jesus, the God of the Impossible, is faithful. It hurts. There is still victory to be had. But, ultimately, for those who have placed their trust in Christ, the TRUE victory has already been won: by Jesus, on the cross at Calvary.

So, let all who celebrate the long-awaited, prophetic birth of the Christ Child– that tiny baby, born 2,000 years ago, sleeping in the hay– remember His Faithfulness in everything. Jesus is Good, always, and His plans cannot be thwarted (Luke 18:19; Job 42:2). Let Him be the Source of all Hope– as well as the reason for and the focus of all prayer, praise, and celebration, this Christmas.

Do you know Jesus?

because of the tender mercy of our God,
    by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven
79 to shine on those living in darkness
    and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the path of peace.”
(Luke 1:78-79, NIV)

Jesus is the Light of the World (John 8:12). Before He was born, this world was without Hope– dark, cold, and confusing.

The Jews had been waiting for their Messiah, to free them physically from the bondage of Rome, but there was much deeper bondage that had to be broken: bondage to sin, and the death it caused.

Christ, at His birth, was the complete fulfillment of every prophecy about the Messiah— and, as a grown man, became the sacrifice needed to liberate, and save, all who believe on Him.

This Christmas, are you lost, in a world that is dark, confusing, and hopeless?
Meet the God who came, so that you don’t have to be, here.

Please pray with me…

Dear Father God,

THANK YOU, Jesus, that even when NOTHING seems to be going right, You are right there, our Emmanuel. Thank You for deciding to come to this Earth, out of Your Pure and Perfect Love for us. Thank You for going to Calvary, and creating the Only Way for us to have a personal, saving relationship with You, God. Dear Father God,
We just want to praise, and thank You, on High, Father God, for Loving us enough to send Your own son to us. We thank You for every blessing of restoration that You have given us, especially in Northern Nigeria!
Father, there were days when the prayers that were lifted up seemed useless, or impossible. Please forgive any lack of faith, for You are the God of the Impossible!

Dear Jesus,
Thank You for freeing Your People: spiritually, just as Luke 2 says. Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests” (Luke 2:14, NIV). Thank You for granting us Peace, Father God, and for granting Your Children in Maiduguri the freedom from fear, to sing Your Praises, as we celebrate Your birth! Father God,
We thank You also, for freeing your people, physically!!! Thank You for freeing the 23 Chibok girls that have “breathed the air of freedom,” as Buhari has said. We thank You, Jesus, for the thousands of others who have been freed, as well. Thank You for also bringing Justice to Boko Haram!!!

Father God,
We want to praise You, and celebrate Your Faithfulness. We also want to thank You, and Praise You, for the fact that though there is still much to be done, You are God above it all.

Dear Father God,
We ask, In Jesus’ Name, that those who are still struggling today, would feel Your comforting arms around them, tight. We pray over the recent terror attacks, that have ravaged not only Nigeria, but so many other countries. Father God, we pray that these terror attacks would cause those with no Hope, to cry out to Jesus, and come to know You as their Lord and Savior.
We pray for those who lack any and all food and water, especially the Nigerian soldiers, fighting Boko Haram. Please send Your Children out to aid these people, to show them that You, and only You, provide. Please also provide food, water, and what is needed through aid organizations like Voice of the Martyrs, so that those who are displaced this Christmas don’t go physically, but more importantly, spiritually hungry, this Christmas.

“Greater things have yet to come, and greater things are still to be done, in this city” (“God of the City” by Christ Tomlin). We thank You for all You have done, praise You in wonder for all You are doing, and look forward for all that You will do.

In Jesus’ Name I pray, Amen.”

To the readers and prayer warriors:
Thank you for your prayers and support!!!
Have a blessed, Merry Christmas!!!

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