I read in this report that 86% of displaced peoples in Northern Nigeria, approximately 1.2 million people, are currently afraid of going back to their home towns and villages in Northeast Nigeria. This letter was written to these people, in response.
To the People in Northeast Nigeria, Beloved by Christ:
Hello. You may never know me; and I may never know you. Living halfway across the world from you, I have not experienced your culture, and I do not truly know the world you live in.
I will not pretend that I understand the pain you have experienced; I cannot.
I look at pictures of your children, and I cry at their gaunt, fragile bodies.
I hear about the land you once inhabited, your homestead, where you once grew your wheat, making a living. I have heard that those people, those locusts with human flesh on, stole it, stole it all, after stealing the lives of your loved ones– those who tried to escape.
I hear about these things. But how could I ever know them? It seems trite, even insulting, to write such a letter to you.
So much, so many has been stolen from you. Your fathers. Your mothers. Your children. Your lovers. Your husbands, your wives. Your innocence. Your homes and villages, wrecked by these locusts with human skin on.
And the miles you walked, ran, and hid to get away. As scorching as the heat that once made Hagar cry out in the desert, you walked your weary bodies across the highest of temperatures to get away from those locusts– those men who rob, and kill, and destroy.
You may have almost died… maybe some of those closest to you did die. I could never be able to understand this feeling: the horror you experienced as they slipped away.
All I can do is cry, when I think about it. Cry for you, cry for them. Cry for the pain that now keeps you awake at night.
By now, millions of people, in the same predicament as you, have found some sort of shelter. An internally displaced people’s camp, a friend’s house. Maybe even an old school building, one similar to the one your children learned in, before it was all taken away.
Maybe you have been there for one week. Maybe it’s been six months; maybe it’s been whole years, since you once saw your homeland. And they want you to go back.
The government, who, for many of you, did nothing to protect you, and nothing to disarm your enemies– they now say it is okay to go home.
I cannot imagine how you feel; I know that probably everybody feels something different. But according to this report, it says that most of you are afraid. Afraid of the known; afraid of the unknown. Afraid of the past; afraid of the present. Afraid of the future.
Friend, if this is where you are, I want to encourage you.
I know that I could never fathom the many atrocities you have been forced to experience.
But there was a time in my life, where much of what I held dear was stolen, too.
Food did not enter my mouth. My “homeland” of friends had to be left. For a time, I felt I had lost my own family.
The details of this story are for another day. I went through the most painful, heartbreaking time of my life, and let me tell you: I was a desert. I was dry bones. At times, I literally lacked even water; my own hands would not give it.
Fear enclosed me on all sides. I was afraid of the past happening again, and was afraid of what my future would hold. Friend, I was terrified.
But this is the Truth: even when I did not, could not see Him, Jesus Christ– the Lord of Heaven and Earth– was working for my good. Even when I felt, even when I was, alone, He was there, with me, in the darkness, chaos, and confusion.
When I was thirsting, spiritually and physically, Jesus quenched my thirst with His Promise: “I will never, never fail you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5, NIV).
Friend, His Presence, according to Hebrews 13:5-6, makes Him your Helper. The Hand you hold during this trial, this storm. And when you are on the other side of this?
I pray that you will be saying, “Because He is near me, I will not fear.”
Jesus is Your Helper. Sounds trite, doesn’t it?
Especially coming from the mouth of a person who doesn’t know the first thing about your tragedy.
But I do know about mine.
It’s been three years later, and I can promise you this: If you place your trust in Jesus Christ, none of this will be wasted.
And He, being Your Good Shepherd, will give you life. Life, abundantly.
He will restore back all of what those locusts stole. He will restore you.
So, don’t be afraid. Be wise. Be cautious. But, with Christ on your side,
Don’t be afraid.
We are praying for you. You matter; You are Loved.
I want to bless you, by praying for you, here.
“Dear Jesus, Thank You for each and every one of these people. Thank You for keeping them alive.
Please let them hear, today, of Your Unfailing Love.
Please help them to dream again. Help them to flourish, and restore ALL that these locusts stole from them.
In Jesus’ Name we pray,
Again, we love you.
Yours in Prayer to Christ,
Annalee (of ISAIAH 62 PRAYER MINISTRY)
“So I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten, The crawling locust, The consuming locust, And the chewing locust, My great army which I sent among you. You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied, And praise the name of the Lord your God, Who has dealt wondrously with you; And My people shall never be put to shame.”
(Joel 2:25-26, NKJV)
Jesus came, that we might have Life, and have it abundantly.
In fact, He paid the ultimate price for us to have eternal life.
Learn more about this God, who lost everything, that we might gain everything in Him, here.
Please continue praying for those who have been internally displaced from their homes, in Northeast Nigeria.
We are called to be Jesus’ Hands and Feet, being the practical way others can claim that Jesus is their Helper. You may find a great resource for charities to give to that are currently involved in aiding IDPs in the Boko Haram insurgency, here.
Thank you for all of your prayers and support!