Friends and Readers,
Thank you for spending your time today, reading this blog, and praying for the many people it advocates for.
For obvious reasons, today is a sad and solemn day. For those of you who do not know, as of today, it has been four years since the Chibok schoolgirls were kidnapped by Islamic terrorist group, Boko Haram. 276 innocent young women were kidnapped and condemned for simply going to a school that was deemed “sinful” by Boko Haram (their name in Hausa, the local language in Northern Nigeria, means “Western Education is sinful.”)
Over these past four years, approximately 164 of the young women were either freed through negotiations, or made their way out themselves. This is a cause for beautiful celebration.
But, unfortunately, four years into their captivity, 112 still remain within the clutches of Boko Haram. A video was released, with many of the purported Chibok girls stating that “We are the Chibok girls. We are the ones you are crying about for us to come back. By the grace of Allah, we are never coming back.”1 Whether or not these young women mean what they say, it can look like the war on freeing and rescuing these young girls is bleak. But there is always room for Hope.
The Catholic archbishop of Canterbury met with Nigeria’s president, Muhammadu Buhari, on March 11th, 2018.2 Amidst speaking about the herder-farmer conflict and how education tackles poverty, the archbishop urged Buhari to protect Christians undergoing persecution in Northern Nigeria, as well as pushing for the Nigerian government to free the Chibok girls (and Leah Sharibu, the only “Dapchi girl” still in Boko Haram captivity because she refused to renounce Christ). Some of the archbishop’s words concerning the Chibok girls stirred Hope in me, even now. He said:
“It’s so important that we pray for the peace and progress of Nigeria – and particularly for the liberating peace of Jesus to be with all those held in captivity.”2
The liberating peace of Jesus, even in captivity. The archbishop’s words reminded me of Philippians, when Paul the apostle—who is currently in prison for sharing the Gospel—tells the readers in the church of Philippi to “rejoice in the Lord,” and that “It is no trouble for me [Paul] to write the same things to you again, and it is a safeguard for you” (Philippians 3:1, NIV, brackets mine). In one of the worst possible situations to be in, Paul is not complaining, or venting, or worrying. No—He is rejoicing, seeing even the idea of prison as an opportunity to tell even his guards about the faith and hope found in Christ alone.
“Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel. As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. And because of my chains, most of the brothers and sisters have become confident in the Lord and dare all the more to proclaim the gospel without fear.”
(Philippians 1:12-14, NIV)
There is no doubt—the Apostle Paul was sold out to Jesus, and, in faithfully serving Christ, was brought to experience Joy, no matter the situation (Philippians 1:25). But I think it is important to know that Joy does not always mean one has a smile on their face, skipping through tulips as if nothing is wrong. Paul speaks of being cheered up by Timothy’s news regarding the people of the church in Philippi—which tells us that Paul needed to be cheered up, at times, and that he was cheered by hearing about his loved ones. Instead of Joy simply meaning happiness, it can be said that Joy is found in a growing and flourishing relationship with Jesus Christ, no matter the situation. It is because of this truth that Paul so confidently states in Philippians 4:13, “I can do all this [living in plenty and in want] through him who gives me strength.”
All of this is well and good—but what does it have to do with the Chibok schoolgirls? Looking at their predicament, it can be all too easy to be flung into despair, and for good reason. How are we supposed to “rejoice always,” as Paul states, while still seeing the reality of the situation? We are to focus on the eternal, un-conquerable Hope found in Christ Jesus. Whether the Chibok girls in captivity or are free, Jesus Christ is alive, risen, and reigning; and, no matter how powerful Boko Haram (led by satan) is, Christ has the final word on the subject—always.
This Hope is unshakable, and is the very reason for why this entire blog exists. So, even in the midst of such terror, heartbreak, and despair, let us remember that the liberating Peace of Jesus can be had at all times, even in captivity—if only we start looking to Christ, instead of looking down.
Annalee Hoover, ISAIAH 62 PRAYER MINISTRY
Do you know Jesus?
“Promise Maker, Promise Keeper, You finish what you begin.”
– “The Lord Our God” by Kristian Stanfill
In the beginning, Adam and Eve felt no shame (Genesis 2:25). But, as they sinned, they became filled with shame—and tried to cover themselves in fig leaves.
God, finding them in their sinful state, is grieved by their disobedience; yet, He covers them with something better than fig leaves: the skin of an animal. In this, God showed Adam and Eve that He was going to cover them and their sin, and that it was going to take the death of an innocent sacrifice to do so.
Fast-forward almost 4 thousand years3, and Jesus is on the scene. The perfect Son of God, God Himself, died the death we deserved—and God atoned for our sin better than we could ever do on our own through being “good enough” (Ephesians 2:8-10).
God has freely given all we need to be saved—God’s provision is Christ Jesus. Learn more about our need for a Savior, and how Christ fulfills this need, here.
Please pray for (you can find the prayer sheet for this, here):
- The parents and loved ones of the Chibok schoolgirls. This is no doubt a horrific day for everyone involved; please pray that they would put their Hope and Trust in Jesus, through this time.
- The Chibok girls who are free. Today may be triggering for them, mentally, emotionally, spiritually and physically. Please pray that they would be comforted and would have a Godly community of people around them, to help them.
- The Chibok girls still in captivity. Let’s pray that they truly desire to be free, and would be able to get free, either through negotiations, or through escaping.
- For renewed interest and focus on the Chibok schoolgirls. Let’s pray that the public sees what is going on, and urges the Nigerian government and all those in power to free the girls.