Binta Ali Nkeki is a mother and grandmother, like any other. In her small, far-away village of Mbalala, in Northeastern Nigeria, Binta does what any other mother would: She regularly thinks, and speaks about, her child and grandchildren.
As one of the 276 kidnapped Chibok schoolgirls, Binta’s daughter, Amina Ali Nkeki, was found and freed on May 17th, 2016. Yet, instead of being able to relay good news about her child, like stories of Amina’s life in freedom, or gushing about how cute her grandchild is, there is only one thing Binta can muster about her daughter Amina. Sobbing, Binta says, “I worry, sometimes, that I don’t know if she is alive or dead” (source).
Although Amina is free from Boko Haram’s control, she, and the other 23 freed Chibok girls, have been kept under strict guard by the Nigerian government (source). Mothers of freed Chibok schoolgirls, like Binta, are starting to complain of the Nigerian government’s extreme surveillance and guard over their daughters, only seeing their daughters once since their release some months ago. A few parents of the freed girls were not even allowed to see their children for Christmas, in the way they dreamed of for over two and a half years (source).
While one can understand the reasoning for watching over these freed young women so closely– as they could easily be kidnapped by Boko Haram a second time, if completely unguarded– the hearts of these mothers and fathers are desperate to be with their daughters, again. “Anything that the government wants to do with Amina, I have no problem with that,” Binta reported in the interview, originally with the Associated Press. “But I just want to see my daughter with my own eyes.”
Although many parents of the girls could say the same thing, the heartbreak for those who have not yet seen their daughters freed is a much different story. As seen in this CNN Video, mothers of some Chibok girls came to the Christmas celebration, expecting to see their daughters. But, in what can only be described as a nightmare, these mothers found upon the arrival of the freed Chibok girls, that their daughters were still under Boko Haram’s captivity. The grief is unimaginable.
The Loving Father
There is one Proverb that perfectly expresses both the celebration, and the hope lost, in this situation. “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life”(Proverbs 13:12, NIV). Sunday, January 8th, 2017 was the 1,000th day the Chibok girls have been captive; just the fact that some of these parents have been waiting over 1,000 days for their daughters to come home, with no real freedom in sight, is pitiful in and of itself. In fact, 19 of the Chibok schoolgirls’ parents have passed away since the kidnapping, out of what many call heartsickness (source).
These less-publicized victims of the Chibok schoolgirls kidnapping and terrorist insurgency are perhaps some of the most affected. Yet, even here, there is comfort and hope: while a parent’s Love, especially a mother’s Love, for their child, is incredibly special, and there is nothing like it, this incredible bond between a parent and their child is only an illustration of God’s Love for us.
It is the Father’s very nature to be a Loving Parent toward those who are His Children (John 1:12). Isaiah 49:13-16 describes this special, amazing, loyal Love God has.
“13 Shout for joy, you heavens; rejoice, you earth; burst into song, you mountains! For the Lord comforts his people and will have compassion on his afflicted ones.
14 But Zion said, ‘The Lord has forsaken me, the Lord has forgotten me.’
“’15 Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I [the LORD] will not forget you! 16 See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before me.’”
(Isaiah 49:13-16, words in brackets mine)
At the time of this being written, Jerusalem (in which Mount Zion is located) was in complete and utter shambles. It’s walls– which kept those in the city safe– were in complete ruins, symbolizing the ruin of the people who once lived within them. Needless to say, the people of this city believed that Jesus had forsaken and forgotten them.
But this passage declares Jesus’ Love, in an amazingly profound, loyal way. The word “engraved” used in verse 16 can either speak of “engraving” or “inscribing”; the word “inscribe” means to “write or carve (words or symbols) on something, especially as a formal or permanent record” (source). The picture painted here is clear. Jesus is not apathetic about His People’s ruins; He has carved their ruined state on the palms of His Hands, and is passionate about them– and the heartbreak they feel.
An Intervening Father
As a concerned parent, Christ did not only watch and record; He acted. Knowing this passionate Love that Christ has for Israel, He, even after all of their rebellion, worked on their behalf to restore the city of Jerusalem through letting them return home. (This can be read about in the biblical books of Nehemiah and Ezra.) As a concerned, Loving parent, God did not leave His Children alone forever to reap the consequences of their sin and idolatry; He allowed them to go through the discipline of destruction and exile, while then coming to them and restoring them, as He promised to do in passages like Isaiah 49 and 62.
God is still the Loving parent that He was, today. Jesus’ last words to His Disciples were ones of reassurance and support: “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:20, NIV). Christ’s Church is His Bride; and through faith in Him, we become Children of God the Father, given unlimited access to the Father, in every situation (Galatians 3:26; Ephesians 2:18). The Chibok girls who know Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior are not only their parent’s daughters– they are Christ’s.
This leads to a comforting conclusion. If these innocent young girls’ parents are protesting and weeping over the state of their Daughters, how much more concerned and involved in their release is Christ, their Heavenly Father?
“I will not leave you all alone like orphans. I will come back to you,” Christ reassured His followers in John 14:18, ESV. The parents in Chibok, Nigeria, are still deeply hurting over the loss of their children. But, knowing that Christ Loves them– and their daughters– perfectly (as only He can), may the children of God in Chibok, Nigeria, continue to look to Christ for all they need; and may His Children, all over the world, continue to pray for the release of these Daughters, in His Perfect Way and Timing.
This blog post is dedicated to the 5 Nigerian soldiers who lost their lives in a clash with Boko Haram terrorists on January 7th, 2017. May Jesus comfort their loved ones during this time, as well.
Do you know Jesus?
In the parable of the Prodigal Son, found in Luke 15:11-32, a young man took his inheritance. He “gathered all he had and took a journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in reckless living” (Luke 15:13, NIV).
In this far-away country, the young man spent all of his money, and when a famine came, “…he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed pigs” (Luke 15:15, NIV).
This man, penniless and hungry, came to his senses, and returned back to his father’s house. Acknowledging all the wrong that he had done, he hoped to be accepted back as his father’s slave.
But, upon his father seeing him coming up the road, his father embraced him, hugging and kissing him. Accepting back his son, the Father prepared a feast for him. “…let us eat and celebrate. For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found,” his Father expressed with Joy (Luke 15:23-24, NIV).
This is probably one of the most well-known parables of all time: a rebellious, sin-wrecked son receives full Forgiveness and Love from His Father, even after all He has done.
This is the kind of Love the Father has lavished on those who believe on Him as Lord and Savior (1 John 3:1). It is perfect, sacrificial, and the ONLY Love that can save one from themselves. Jesus’ Love is perfect. Not only this; but He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and no one can come to the Father except through Him (John 14:6).
Do you want a personal, saving relationship with God? Come meet Jesus, and learn more about why we need Him, here.
- For Binta Ali Nkeki, specifically. She, being able to have an interview with a news agency, not only opened eyes to the plights of mothers and fathers of the Chibok schoolgirls in general, but opened eyes to Binta’s life. She has lost many other children either in or after childbirth, and is a widow; Amina and her son, Noah, are all she has. Please pray that she would come to know Jesus personally, and His Love, Grace, and Goodness. Please pray that He would be her Comfort, during this time.
- For the Mothers of the Chibok schoolgirls. Found or not, there is a special bond between a mother and her daughter… please pray that Christ would be the Strength these mothers need, during their time of waiting.
- For the Fathers of the Chibok schoolgirls. This also is a special relationship. Please pray that these men would come to Jesus, not turn away from Him, in bitter grief.
- For the parents of Chibok schoolgirls that have not yet been released. The grief of these parents is unfathomable. Pray that they would look to Jesus, just to keep breathing, in going through this time of wait.
- For Nigeria’s soldiers, and their families. The war against Boko Haram is real, and very dangerous. Please pray for them to come to Jesus, and for their safety.
- That Nigeria’s government would re-kindle their zeal for bringing the remaining 195 school girls home, whatever it takes.
- That ultimately, these 195 girls– and the countless others who have also been kidnapped by Boko Haram– would be able to see their families, in Jesus’ Will and Timing.
- That the #1,000Days Week of Action would be a huge success in re-alerting people to the cause of the Chibok schoolgirls, and would create a renewed pressure for their rescue.
If you are interested in taking part in the remaining days of the #1000Days Week of Action, created by the official BringBackOurGirls movement (found at www.bringbackourgirls.ng), click here. They also have a separate prayer needs list, here.