March for Our Lives: Remembering the Chibok Girls

As many today march for the end to school violence through gun control, I believe there is another form of school violence that should be remembered and upheld, too.

I spoke about it in this post. While the Chibok school girl kidnapping has little to do with gun violence (though the use of guns in their kidnapping played a huge role), these young women– innocent, intelligent, and full of promise– were taken from the free world, to the outrage of many.

But are they remembered, still today? This is not meant to make anyone feel guilty, but rather, convicted and encouraged. As we see thousands upon thousands of Americans stand up and say “#NeverAgain,” I pray that we remember these precious young women– and that those with the power to save these young women from Boko Haram, and protect children from terrorism of any kind, will determine in their hearts that such kidnappings, tragedies, and pains should “Never Again” happen, as well.

Today, please pray for these kids, parents, and people in general marching so that gun violence never again happens, and please keep the terrorism happening in Northern Nigeria, especially to the girls and women of places like Chibok, in your prayers as well.

May we look forward to when Jesus comes back, and we can, with a sigh of complete relief and Peace, say “Never Again” to the pain and tears happening all around us.


Do you know Jesus?

Jesus came once, to die for the sins of the world. And He is coming back, again, to right every wrong and set up His Kingdom in a new earth, and a new heaven. This is cause for great Hope and celebration! Read more about these amazing promises, here.

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Prayer: The First Defense

On March 16th, an article was written concerning two things that have been very raw in global news: The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Florida, and the kidnap of both the Chibok schoolgirls and the Dapchi school girls, among many others.

The article compared the school violence that has happened in America to the school violence exhibited by Boko Haram.1

One comparison was striking: For the Chibok and Dapchi girls—among so many others—protect our girlsthe terror was from the “outside,” an ideology and a people thoroughly against the governments of Northern Nigeria and other nations. In the School shooting in Florida, it was a young man—a man “within society”—that shot and killed 17 people, including students and school staff.

In both cases, people were lured by satan and spurred on by an evil world to commit these heinous and heartbreaking acts. People who hated their society, and thought little to nothing about the precious lives of the people they have kidnapped and killed.

In so little words, there is both terror within, and terror outside.

Fighting the Battles

In both situations, the watching world has vowed this vow: “We won’t forget.”2 Many have meant this, and many have not—but if you might be a person who has forgotten these people, this post is not to shame or push you into some sort of agenda. Actually, I have to be honest: I am a person who forgets these things. I am a person who does not always remember to pray for these precious people; and at times, I am completely ignorant to the pain others are feeling all around me.

This idea of both terror within, and terror outside, reminds me of Numbers 22-25, where a sorcerer/man of divination named Balaam is paid by the king of an enemy of Israel—King Balak of Moab—to curse the wandering Israelites3. It is the story of the talking donkey, which many people have heard of (especially if you have grown up in the church).

After being stopped by the angel of the LORD, God told Balaam to only say what God wanted him to say (Numbers 22:35), and Balaam refused just to say whatever he wanted (Numbers 22:38). Guess what happened? No matter how King Balak pressured Balaam,

doctrine-of-baalam

King Balak getting angry with Balaam for refusing to curse Israel.

Balaam could only say what God wanted him to: all blessings, and no curses, toward Israel (Numbers 23-24). Just like that, any terror and desolation that could occur from the outside of Israel through Balaam’s curses became inert; God was protecting His People.

But what Balaam couldn’t achieve through cursing Israel by divination, he helped achieve through the Israelite’s own wrongdoing. In Numbers 25, the Israelite men started sleeping with the local Moabite women around them; this debauchery led to the Israelite men worshipping the sexual, false gods and goddesses of Moab. The idolatry committed by Israel caused God to be angry; subsequently, a plague was sent to kill the Israelites. This terror, caused from within, ended up killing 24,000 people, and was only stopped when the “ringleaders” of this sin were killed.

What does this have to do with the violence in Northern Nigeria and Florida? I am not trying to compare the school shooting in Florida with what happened to the Israelites; absolutely NO VICTIM of the Florida shooting is in any way at fault for the choices of one person.

What I am saying is this: there is evil all around us—evil that is subtle, insidious, eating away at the life Christ has for us—both through attacks from the enemy, and from our own inward struggles with sin.

At the end of the day, this evil opposition comes at us from all sides, in a plethora of different ways.

evil

 

Prayer: First Line of Defense

With these attacks going on around us— and with everything we thought we knew for sure being shaken—I want to ask you one question: what is the first thing you normally do when you are attacked, or when you see an attack happening?

Do you go to Facebook and social media, posting and tweeting? Do you put together a protest, writing on signs?

Do you simply turn away from it all, hoping that, if it’s out of sight, it’s out of mind, and it will somehow resolve itself on its own?

All of these things are understandable; I’ve done all three. But I want to encourage you all to do one thing first: Pray to Jesus about it.

You’ll notice that I did not say “prayer” vaguely. I did this for a reason: The God of the Bible—the Godhead, three-in-one– is the only God in control, and able to change anything at all.

I can hear the scoffs and retorts. “Jesus? What is Jesus going to do? Time for prayers have ended, Annalee. We need action. We need results, now.”

But, regarding any attack in this life, Ephesians 6:12 declares, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (NIV).

And in terms of personal attacks happening in our everyday lives, God’s Word tells us to “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7, NIV).

Honestly? I’m horrible at this whole “praying first” thing. Most of the time, I think that writing a blog post, or sending a tweet or even just a text instead is more productive than immediately going to the God of all Creation in prayer over these attacks. But, when one person goes in prayer to Christ, the One and only true God, about these things, more is done than anything we mere humans could ever do.

Praying to Jesus. This is the number one thing that will heal and protect, not only our morebroken children, but our broken world. So, may we protest. May we write blog and social media posts advocating for these precious people. May we be an active part of these people’s miracles.

But first, may we spend time with Jesus in prayer and worship. It is then that we will be strengthened and led to do all the beautiful things He has for us to do.


Do you know Jesus?

People today think that Christians are crazy for believing that a person can have a real, genuine, personal relationship with God. This is probably most evident in the words of Joy Behar recently, who publicly mocked Christians when she said, “It’s one thing to talk to Jesus. It’s another thing when Jesus talks to you. …that’s called mental illness, if I’m not mistaken.”

But, no matter what the world thinks about it, Jesus Christ is risen and reigning—and He longs to have a personal, saving relationship with each and every person ever made, if only they will accept Him as Savior and God over their lives.

Jesus cares DEEPLY for you. He has spoken, in His Word, about what it takes to know Him. Read more about His Good News, here.



Please pray for (print out a prayer sheet here)…

  • Joy Behar. This is random, but please pray that she would come to know Jesus even after her remarks on The View. Pray for the many, many people who agree with her sentiments.
  • The Dapchi girls. Please pray that they would come home, soon.
  • The Chibok girls. Pray that the 112 left in captivity would desire home, and would be able to come home. You can find a link to many of their names, here.
  • Those involved in and affected by the Marjorie Stoneman Douglas high school shooting in Parkland, Florida. Pray that these broken, hurt people would come to know Jesus.

Thank you for your prayers.  these kids be protected by Christ through prayer, and Christ-led action.

1 http://keranews.org/post/beset-school-violence-us-and-nigeria-consider-each-others-experience

2 The video featuring Anderson Cooper in this article: https://www.cnn.com/2018/02/15/us/florida-shooting-victims-school/index.html

3 https://www.gotquestions.org/Balak-in-the-Bible.html

 

Wait for the Beauty

Hey friends. I hope you all are doing well! Today, as you might already know, is Saint Patrick’s Day.

Oddly enough, I didn’t know it was Saint Patrick’s Day until I came to my computer to start writing this blog, and saw the Google Doodle for today. As I clicked on the Google Doodle, I found information on Saint Patrick that many people do not know—information with a striking similarity to that of the Chibok girls.

As you all probably know, the Chibok school girls were kidnapped from their boarding school during the time that they were going to take their exams. These teenage girls, anywhere from probably 15-18 years of age, had their physical freedom taken away from them; 112 still remain in captivity, today.

Well, contrary to what many people commonly think about St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland was actually not Irish at all—in fact, he was British. But, at the age of 16, Patrick was kidnapped by Irish raiders, where he lived for six years. As History.com puts it, “During this time, he worked as a shepherd, outdoors and away from people. Lonely and afraid, he turned to his religion for solace, becoming a devout Christian.”1

When one strips away the mythology and fame of Saint Patrick, he was simply a young man who was ripped away from his family, undergoing extreme hardship in a land he had never been in, before. But, it seems that this seemingly barren, horrible part of his life served a huge purpose. History.com goes on to say that “It is also believed that Patrick first began to dream of converting the Irish people to Christianity during his captivity.” According to St. Patrick’s writings, St. Patrick stated that God gave him two visions: one to leave Ireland after being there for 6 years, and then, later, one to return to Ireland to do Catholic missional work there as a priest.1

This man, having lived through much terror, heartbreak, and confusion, was used by Christ to bring the Gospel to the mainly pagan nation of Ireland (many say that it was St. Patrick who used a three-leaf clover to describe and explain the trinity to those He shared the Gospel with—something we as people still hang on to today as a “good-luck” charm). Christ exchanged even the worst of St. Patrick’s ashes for beauty: sharing the Gospel, and seeing people become saved.

There are both striking and obvious similarities between the life of St. Patrick and the countless number of people who are taken captive every single day (including, of course, the Chibok girls). These innocent people do not deserve what has happened to them; the great suffering they have undergone seems to be too much to bear.

But, even throughout all the suffering and heartache, could it be that this pain has a purpose?

And do we believe that Jesus can, somehow, in His own ways and timing, exchange our ashes for beauty?

This was the idea I was thinking of when sitting in church this past Wednesday, during a midweek service. I jotted down some notes from the sermon, here they are:

beauty 2.jpg

“’I [God] will trade your ashes for beauty.’

You’re not the only one waiting for beauty.

I will bring good out of this—trust Me.”

 

Friends, what is the pain, the heartache, the hardship that you or your loved ones PAIN PURPOSEare facing, right now? I can’t help but imagine the pain, frustration, fear, despair, and helplessness these kidnapped young women and their families feel, being kept apart, and not knowing where the ones they love most are.

Joseph suffered through it. And today, on St. Patrick’s Day, I have learned that St. Patrick, too, was stolen like property.

But, through it all, Jesus was faithful. And as the watching world looks upon the Chibok girls, it is my confident Hope that Jesus is (and will be) faithful in His every promise concerning these beautiful young women.

Christ did bring beauty from ashes. And this is what He yearns to do, for you.

So, this is my encouragement for you, friend: wait for the beauty. Ask Jesus to fill you afresh with the Holy Spirit, whose fruit includes patience; ask Him to help you to “wait upon Him.” There are a huge number of blessings and promises concerning waiting on Jesus’ work in your life . I exhort you to read, receive, and cling to them like the air you breathe.

wait on the Lord

Promises in the Waiting (copyright Annalee Hoover 2017)

Most of all, ask Him to fill you with Joy in His Presence, as you realize He is always with you; ask Him to show you the beauty that is already all around you, and rooted in who He is.

Jesus will come through, my friend. Rest in this promise, and wait for the beauty.

“He’ll bind up the broken-hearted/
Oh He will, yes He will/
He’ll set captives free from darkness, Oh He will, oh He will/
He’ll breathe hope into the hopeless, help a restless soul be still/
Oh-ohh, oh-ohh, He will, He will.”2

(“Oh He Will,” by Ellie Holcomb: Watch the video, here)

wait beauty

This post is dedicated to those who were kidnapped in Oyo state, Nigeria. Please pray for their soon return.


Do you know Jesus?

Jesus has done all that is needed for us to have eternal life with Him, enjoying and celebrating a personal, transforming relationship with Jesus. Learn more about this amazing, Joy-bringing God, and how you can have a personal relationship with Him, here.


Please pray for (get your prayer sheet here):

  • The soon return of the Chibok school girls. May there be a breakthrough, and a pouring out of these people from Boko Haram captivity.
  • The soon return of the Dapchi girls. May they not be forgotten!!!
  • The family members and loved ones of these women.
  • Those currently in sex and human trafficking; that they would be freed, in Jesus’ Name!
  • Jesus to comfort and show Himself faithful to these people, who are watching and waiting for Him. Pray they would trust Him and His timing.

 Thank you for your prayers!!!

1 https://www.history.com/topics/st-patricks-day/who-was-saint-patrick

2 https://genius.com/Ellie-holcomb-he-will-lyrics

 

He Wins the War: Hope for the Weary

Over a month ago– on February 5th, 2018—two people were burnt alive in Alau-Kofa village, which is in close proximity to Borno state’s capitol of Maiduguri. This horrific information has come just as the military has said that Boko Haram has been defeated1.

“Saying they have been completely defeated is pushing it too far,” Major General Nicholas Rogers has said concerning the fight against Boko Haram1.The government and military has said much, but things and events have said otherwise, to the anger of those fighting for the Chibok girls—and now, also for the Dapchi girls.

Just yesterday, March 13th, people at the center of the #BringBackOurGirls movement declared that the Nigerian government has 7 days to find and free the 110 “Dapchi” girls, or face “a lawsuit on the grounds of criminal negligence.”2 Obviously, the world is demanding the truth, and real action.

But what if those things never come? What if, for all our striving and demands, our actions and best laid plans, these girls are not freed in our time frame, and Boko Haram continues to at least look like they are definitely winning the war? These are hard, pressing times. Times where the Nigerian military does not want to perform aerial attacks, for fear of killing the very girls people are demanding they save. They are weary of trying to find and apprehend Abubukar Shekau, leader of one faction of Boko Haram, because he is using these precious people as human shields1.

Human. Shields.
Innocent young women and men, their lives put on the line so that these wicked people can live, and continue to do evil.

As I was thinking about this—about how horrific and unjust it all is—one thought came to mind: Jesus knows exactly what these people are going through.

You see, as far-fetched as it all sounds, Jesus was our human shield.

For sinful people who were indifferent or hateful towards Him, “…he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5, NIV). Jesus took the blow we, evil sinners, deserved. He took upon Himself the wrath of God, so that we—the ones who have brought it on in the first place—could live3.

Jesus did all of this—only, He didn’t do it because He was forced to, as these innocent people are being made to. He did it of His own free will, choosing to completely obey His Heavenly Father.

I might get hate because of this; I know how racy it made be to compare a normal, everyday person to the leader of such an evil terrorist organization as Boko Haram. But answer me this: Is there such a thing as “big sins” and “small sins,”—that is, is there sins that are more damning than others?

Not just according to us, and not according to society—not even to Christian culture. But biblically?

There is one sin that can never be forgiven, and that is to reject Jesus Christ as one’s Personal Lord and Savior. But other than that, while sins that vary and differ based upon their consequences and who they hurt, I believe James 2:10 says, “If you have committed one sin you are guilty of all.” All sins are equally heinous, as John Piper has said4.

Bottom line: Jesus knows exactly how these hostages feel.
He knows exactly how every outraged mother, father, brother, son, daughter, and sister feels. How the incredibly frustrated, discouraged, angered members of Bring Back Our Girls feels.
He knows my discouragement—and yours, too.

He sees the bloodshed, the tears, the dirt and sin. He hears the cries, the screams; the silence of brokenness.

He hears your sighs, listens to every prayer. Yet, nothing has seemed to change—for the better, at least.

Friend, as everything seems to be getting worse, I have one final question for you: Do you trust the God, who took on the wrath and anger of God the Father upon Himself, to save and free you? Do you trust that He is good, and has good for you, even in this pain?

Look to Calvary, and know two things: Jesus Loves you. And He is in control.

 

As sin abounds, hearts continue to break, and demands are made in this sometimes hellacious world, I encourage you to look to Calvary amidst your much-needed prayers, demands, and actions. I encourage you to remember, no matter how it all ends up: satan may be “winning battles,” but Jesus has won the war.

He wins. May that carry you through. ❤


Do you know Jesus?

“Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted.”
(Isaiah 53:4, NIV)

On all accounts—from how people viewed Jesus, to the actual pain and suffering God put upon Him, Jesus suffered the worst pain of any person, ever. But why?

Isaiah 53 goes on to say, “By His wounds, we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5). “How?” You might ask?

These are two HUGE questions; and while I am only a human being, I would love to help you find and understand the answers. Read more about these questions, here.


Please pray for (you can get prayer sheets, here):

  • Wisdom for the Nigerian government, as they work on freeing the “Chibok” and “Dapchi” girls. President Buhari wants to negotiate with Boko Haram for the girls’ release; please pray that he would turn to Christ, and would be led of Him.
  • The “Chibok girls.” Pray that Christ brings them home soon.
  • The “Dapchi girls.” Pray that the government listens to activists, and works to bring them home, soon, too.
  • Those praying and protesting for these girls’ release; that they, we, would trust in Jesus alone, and would allow Him to strengthen us.
  • That Boko Haram would be crushed, and all “human shields” set free.

 

Thank you for your prayers!!!

1 https://www.news24.com/Africa/News/boko-haram-kills-two-as-military-says-group-defeated-20180205

2 http://www.africanews.com/2018/03/14/nigerian-gov-t-given-7-days-to-bring-back-chibok-dapchi-girls-or-face-charges//

https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/the-cup-consumed-for-us

https://www.desiringgod.org/interviews/are-all-sins-equal-before-god

 

The True Worth of a Woman, Part 2

On Thursday, March 1st, 2018, ten people—6 soldiers and 4 policemen—were found murdered by Boko Haram in the governmental headquarters of Rann, Nigeria, after suffering an attack perpetrated by Boko Haram. According to reports, two female humanitarian aid workers were kidnapped1 (though some reports say three2). Because of the warfare, MSF (Doctors Without Borders, aka Médecins Sans Frontières) decided to leave the location for the time being, until the attack had ceased and aid workers were not directly in harm’s way. Please keep these women, their families, and the families of those who passed away in this attack in your prayers.

The selflessness of these female aid workers is a virtue that all women could aspire to. Selfless and brave, these women were made the victims of this ferocious attack… and it brings up the question, “What does a noble woman truly look like?”

These women can reflect a part of that answer; but, to see a virtuous woman in her fullness, we can read Proverbs 31. I know, I know… for many women, this passage of scripture can bring them both awe and discouragement all at the same time. But, in this post, with already reading about and knowing that a woman’s true worth and identity is found in Jesus Christ, I thought it would be practical—and hopefully, encouraging!—for us to study how this woman “who fears the Lord” lives, and what she truly prioritizes (Proverbs 31:30). It’s a little lengthy, but I pray that whatever you do read of it will strengthen you.

The Proverbs 31 Woman

First off, I find it interesting that this description of “The Wife of Noble Character” is parked at the very end of Proverbs, a book known for its Godly wisdom. In Proverbs, “Lady Wisdom” is sought as incredibly valuable (Proverbs 8:11), and it is honestly so affirming that God’s Word speaks of what a wise, God-fearing woman looks like; Christ truly does care about who we are, not only as people, but specifically as women; and He cares about what we do to show who we are.

This being said, I also want to say one thing: Girls, we are going to fail at being “the Wife of Noble Character.” Big time. It’s easy for me to look at this passage and feel overwhelmed at how perfect this woman is, but honestly, our value is not found in if we are the wife of noble character or not. Our worth is placed in Jesus alone, His death, and His resurrection. As many other commentators have said, cannot be everything that this woman is simultaneously; rather, it is a goal, one that we will be growing toward (and shying away from) our entire lives.fail .jpg

Whoever you are, take a deep breath, and allow God’s Word to speak to you.

Proverbs 31:10-12

A woman of God—who knows Jesus Christ personally, and walks with Him daily—is an incredible blessing to any Godly man seeking a wife. This woman, who loves Jesus and is daily enjoying a personal relationship with Him, is described as having the full confidence of her husband, bringing him good, not evil, all the days of her life. Women, make Jesus—spending time with Him, walking in His ways, and being rooted in His Word—the foundation of your life. The more you know and understand Christ’s Love, and the more you are filled with the Holy Spirit, the better you will be at being wise, faithful, and loving towards those around you—including your husband (even if you don’t have one yet!).

Proverbs 31:13-15, 21, 27

She’s sacrificial. As an outpouring of Christ’s Love in her life, the wife of Noble Character makes caring for all those within her household—even at the sacrifice of getting up early to do so—a high priority. This woman’s mind, because of her relationship with Jesus, is on how she can best love the people around her— which is, in this context, her husband, children, and even her “female servants.” She is not up and running around because she has to be; at her core, she is showing sacrificial Love because she knows that that is how God, in Christ, Loves her.

Proverbs 31:16-19, 24, 26

She’s wise and hardworking. Notice how this Wife of Noble Character is not strictly a “stay at home mom”; while this is definitely a role she plays, she also has incredibly important roles outside of the house. Contrary to what many Christian leaders have said about women basically being second-class citizens (citing Genesis 2:18, which I expanded upon, here), 1 Corinthians 11:1-16 supports the idea that, in Christ, women are different from—but not inferior to—men. The woman found in Proverbs 31, knowing that she and those around her are all equal in Christ, uses her God-given brain, hands, and talents to make wise, resourceful business decisions.

More than this, this wife of noble character doesn’t just use her talents for her own profit; she uses all that she is to bring glory to God. This can be seen, perhaps most obviously, in verse 20.

“She opens her arms to the poor and extends her hands to the needy.” (Proverbs 31:20, NIV)

She’s generous. This woman, again filled with the Love of God and daily walking in a personal relationship with Him, values those that society marginalizes. As a woman within the historical context of Ancient Israel, women themselves were usually marginalized and limited3. With this fact in mind, the idea of this woman, who is both business-savvy and generous toward the poor and needy, is one that was very against the “mainstream” culture of the day. Though society limited women greatly—and still does, today—God sees women as made in His Image, just as capable as men in Christ to be lovingly generous to all those around, especially the poor and needy.

Proverbs 31:25

She’s full of Life. This one can be hard to read, especially for those of you who have suffered for what seems like forever, in whatever situation you are in. But instead of having this verse discourage you, I want to encourage with its Truth: that, in Christ alone, there is always Hope.

Perhaps, at this point, you are hanging on by a thread. Everything and everyone has been stripped from you; you can’t seem to get your bearings on where you are at right now, much less look forward to the future. Your way feels dark. Your past haunts you. You are heavy with grief and an endless amount of questions.

Sister, despite what everything around you is saying, I want to encourage you to cling to the truth– the Hope– of Scripture. This verse does not say that the wife of noble SHE LAUGHS.jpgcharacter has a wonderful life; the Bible tells it like it is. Yet, it describes this woman as “clothed with strength and dignity,” and “being able to laugh at the days to come.” What is the source of this woman’s strength, dignity, and joyful outlook on life?

The fact that God has never, and will never, leave her. And that, no matter what has happened, what is happening, or what will occur, He Loves her, and is completely in charge of every day of her life.

The Worth of a Godly Woman

This noble woman is not merely beautiful on the outside (though her beauty is of at least some interest to her– Proverbs 31:22). She is a woman saved by Jesus’ death on the cross and resurrection; a woman grounded in the Love of Jesus—a precious treasure, beautiful inside and out, always becoming more like Christ as she follows Him, day by day.

Women are a reflection of who God is—proving that He is a God who Loves true beauty; a God who is concerned with the intimate details of His childrens’ lives; a God who is compassionate, empathetic, and nurturing, always providing for those He Loves. As you look at the women around you, today (including yourself, if you are a woman), praise Jesus for them. See their true worth, in His eyes.

“Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her: ‘Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all.’ Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Honor her for all that her hands have done, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.”
(Proverbs 31:28-31, NIV)


Do you know Jesus?

The woman of noble character did not become noble by merely doing everything she is described doing; she did not come to God, all cleaned up because of her own efforts. Instead, she only needed to come as she was, allowing Christ to change her, from the inside out.

Learn more about this God—who Loves us as we are, and does not leave us that way—here.


Please pray for (get your prayer sheet, here)…

  • Women in Northern Nigeria. Pray that these beautiful people would come to know Christ, and that much would be done to improve their situation.
  • “The Dapchi girls.” 110 young women were kidnapped February 19th, 2018; please pray that they come home, soon.
  • “The Chibok girls.” Please pray that the 112 young women still missing would be freed, soon.
  • For the salvation of all people. Only when Christ is the Lord and Savior of a person’s life, will all women be seen and treated with real dignity, respect, and love.

 

How have you treated women? Is it with God-given dignity and love (This includes yourself if you are a woman)? In what ways do you need to grow to be more like Christ—and the wife of noble character? Ask Jesus to cleanse your heart of any sin, and allow Him to work and move in your life in powerful ways.

 

Thank you for your prayers!

1 https://www.premiumtimesng.com/news/headlines/261172-rann-finally-police-speak-boko-haram-attack-disclose-death-toll.html

https://www.vanguardngr.com/2018/03/boko-haram-attack-halts-aid-in-remote-nigerian-town/

http://religion.oxfordre.com/view/10.1093/acrefore/9780199340378.001.0001/acrefore-9780199340378-e-45#

 

The True Worth of a Woman, Part I

“My bride price included euros,” she says proudly.

Covered head to toe in clothing that hides her body, face, and hair, she stands stoutly, head held high. Speaking to the other women, she tells the story of how she came to marry her Boko-Haram-husband. 15 years old, she is expecting a child, soon.

The other women chime in about their own husbands. “I love my husband,” a thirteen year old swoons. Another speaks about how steadfastly her husband pursued her, after she willingly joined Boko Haram. Their speech is full of infatuation, bragging, and pride; the conversation stops and the women disband when it is time for muslim prayer.

Shocking or not, these are the lives of some of the many women who are apart of Boko Haram. As this article unearths, the women of Boko Haram are not always abducted young women, begging to leave. Whether stolen from their families, or recruited by other Boko Haram women, many of these women have found value in Boko Haram—especially in their husbands, who are also members of Boko Haram (and are sometimes coerced or abducted, as well). And as restrictive as sharia law is, these women sometimes experience a positive change in class status—something that can quickly go to the head. With status, a relative level of comfort, and the daily brainwashing of Boko Haram, these women quickly succumb to the belief that the role they play—as wives, fighters, and even suicide bombers—completely define them, giving them meaning.

And of course it would. Any religion can give a person some sense of purpose and worth; but, heartbreakingly, these women find the core of their worth based upon something that is a lie. Sadly, this is what has happened since the beginning—since Eve listened to the fatal whispers of the serpent (Genesis 3).

“‘You will not certainly die,’ the serpent said to the woman. ‘For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.’”
(Genesis 3:4-5, NIV)

Since the beginning, satan has whispered lies into the ears of women, worldwide. “You will not die; instead, you will find more meaning and value outside of one, true God.” What has come of this? Women believing that their identity lies in their performance—that is, how alluring, how sexy, how intelligent, or how hard-working they are. LIEReally, that list of characteristics could go on forever, and it is always changing. It all comes down to this: in the heart of a woman, satan has planted the lie that they must perform well (not just sexually, but in any arena) in order to be truly Loved and esteemed.

This lie is surely planted in the hearts of both sexes; but in women, there are many common ways this lie is seen throughout humanity. The saddest part? This lie always leaves a person, a woman, with the exact opposite of all they hoped for, all they dreamed. They are not truly known; they are used; and they are left alone, more hungry than ever for a Love that they may begin to believe doesn’t exist.

A “Helper”

This is not the perfect plan Jesus (God) had in mind when He created the first woman. His thoughts toward women can be seen all throughout the Bible, but especially as He creates the first woman, in Genesis 2.

“And the Lord God commanded the man, ‘You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.’
The Lord God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.’
Now the Lord God had formed out of the ground all the wild animals and all the birds in the sky. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds in the sky and all the wild animals. But for Adam no suitable helper was found. So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and then closed up the place with flesh. Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.

The man said,
‘This is now bone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called “woman,”
for she was taken out of man.’”
(Genesis 2:16-23, NIV)

Women, have you ever read this passage and thought, “Wow. It seems like women were created only to please a man. How chauvinistic.”? If so, I want to bring a few things to your attention:

  • I may be met with opposition to this point, but it must be said: If you believe that the Bible is God’s actual Word, and that it cannot just be symbolic of some truth, then even if women were only created to please a man, it would be true. God is not wrong even if what His Word says is unpopular.

But, I would like to expand upon what Genesis 2 is saying—and get to the bottom of what it truly reveals about how God sees women. Genesis 2:18 says, “The Lord God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.’” Looking at this verse in Hebrew, the word “Helper” is also used in Psalm 89:191:

“Once you spoke in a vision, to your faithful people you said: ‘I have bestowed strength on a warrior; I have raised up a young man from among the people.’”
(Psalm 89:19, NIV)

In Psalm 89:19, the phrase “bestowed strength” is the portion of the verse that uses this word, “Helper” (“ezer” in Hebrew)1. Why does this matter? Because it sheds light on just what kind of “Help” Eve was to Adam.

What is a warrior without strength, bestowed by God? A defeated person! Strength is CRUCIAL for a warrior; and so it is with women to men. God looked at Adam, all alone, and realized that a woman was crucial to Adam’s existence. Women are not second-class citizens to God; they are a crucial part of mankind, offering their own unique, God-given nature and gifts for the betterment of humanity!
WOMEN

Women are not valuable based upon how sexy they are, or on how well they fulfill the various desires of the world around them. Women are valuable because they, too, are made in the Image of God, reflecting Him and glorifying Him in a way men could never do.

Women are not the same as men; but, they do not have to be to be equal to men. In the eyes of God, women are precious, worth ransoming from sin and dying for.

You see, Jesus Christ paid a bride price for us, men and women alike, that no one would ever be willing to pay—ransoming us from slavery to sin, and paying the ultimate price of death on a cross to marry us to Himself (1 Peter 1:18-19). It is a price worth far more than anything on this earth, and it lasts forever, completely transforming the one who is bought. A bride price worth far more than euros.

_________________________________________________

You are valuable to God—much more valuable then you could have ever believed. Not because of anything you are, but because of who He is.

Learn more about this God, who died to be the Savior of your story, the Lover of your soul, and the Lord of your Life, here.

_________________________
Please pray for (grab the Prayer Sheet, here)…

  • Women in general. We try to find our value in a plethora of things—pray that each and every woman would come to know that Jesus Christ is the One she has been waiting for.
  • Identity to be found in CHRIST. Instead of trying to “find ourselves” and our identities outside of God, may each person, and specifically women, find their true identity in Christ—and rest from trying to find their identity in anything else.
  • Muslim women. Pray that these women would come to know Jesus, and His Awesome Grace, Freedom, and Forgiveness.
  • The Chibok Girls. Pray that these women come home, soon.
  • The Dapchi Girls. That they are found and freed soon—hopefully sooner than it has taken to find and rescue the 163 Chibok girls who have been found, so far.

Thank you for your prayers! Part Two is on the way!

1 http://biblehub.com/hebrew/ezer_5828.htm

On Envy & Bitterness

Proverbs 13:12 wisely says, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a dream fulfilled is a tree of life.”

Oh, how true this is, in so many ways. I think we all know the feeling of wanting something so much—and then having it removed from our grasp, held just inches away from us as we strive and stretch for it with all of our might. As we stare at this Hope we have had, just outside of our reach, our hearts adopt a feeling of deep, deep grief. It threatens to consume us whole; and we seemingly cannot help but nurse the ache within us.

So much of this is unfortunately true for the Chibok girls, and those like them—people who have had their freedom, happiness, and lives as free men ripped away from them.  The Humanitarian Aid Group “Doctors Without Borders” had to leave the area in Rann, Nigeria, because of Boko Haram terrorism, temporarily leaving desperate families in the region without aid.1 It has been two weeks since the Dapchi girls were kidnapped by Boko Haram2; meanwhile, the Chibok girls who have been found/freed are facing extreme stigma and obstacles to reintegrating into society3. These young women represent thousands of other people kidnapped and harmed by Boko Haram: people who are being failed by their own government, and people who are being mercilessly kicked while they are down.

Is there no respite for these people? Is there no Justice, no relief, no refuge for these victims of such brazen crimes?

It’s easy, under these circumstances, to fall into hatred, resentment, and bitterness about the failures of those around these people. Having a hope deferred is something that is not foreign to me. I know full well that, out of having a Hope deferred, resentment and even envy can rise up within my own heart towards those who seem to have the very thing I feel I need—and I would venture to say that this is a common, human problem (at least, I hope it is!).

Though, no matter how common or understandable this phenomenon of resentment & envy may be, it does not take away the truth that it is evil and sinful. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 13, “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud” (v. 4). While jealousy and envy are not the same thing, they go hand in hand. Jealousy, wrath, and anger are three very harmful things (Proverbs 27:4). Envy is the result of idolatry in our hearts; it’s for this reason that God forbids us to “covet” in the ten commandments (Exodus 20:17).

What’s more, we believe that if we hang on to resentment, we are holding whatever/whomever has caused us pain hostage until “they pay up.” This is a lie that only keeps us in a place of bitter pain—and causes much more bitter pain for others. “Hurt people hurt people,” as the old adage says.

How to Overcome It

We all get it. Jealousy and envy are bad, and incredibly damaging to our souls, lives, relationships, and most importantly, our relationship with God. But, as Proverbs 27 expresses, it can seem unescapable and consuming. How can one fully honor and obey Christ, even when everything within them screams no?!

Truthfully, the lie of envy and resentment usually (if not always) says, “God is not good,” and, at times concerning envy, “He is holding out on me.” These two lies are the source of all anger, resentment, and envy. But, when we come and surrender to Christ, He is the One who changes our desires where necessary, and helps us through.

Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” (James 4:7, NIV)

I admit that I just said about Christ helping us through sounds very trite. Yet, it is nonetheless true. When we feel alone, it is Christ who says, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5-6) [source]. When we feel we are in lack of something, it is in turning to Jesus that we are reminded, “The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing (Psalm 23:1, NIV).

When we come to Christ with our resentment– with how we honestly feel that He is holding out on us– Jesus breaks down this lie– and free us from the resentment, anger, and disappointment we may poignantly feel. It is Jesus’ Will not that we stay locked up in a bitter, envious, angry darkness that “rots the bones,” as Proverbs 14:30 says; but that we come to the Light, to Him for healing. It is there that we will receive His counsel, His rebuke where necessary, and His comforting strength that points to our idolatry and heals the deeper, harmful lie we have been holding on to in our heart of hearts. It is this place that Jesus wants to heal and bring restoration to—even if the only way for it to ever come up is to recognize our intense bitterness.

It’s true. This world is full of evil; and, as such, hurt and broken people can become very bitter and resentful toward whatever has caused them their pain, even becoming bitter toward life itself.

The people, especially the women, of Northern Nigeria, have a lot to resent and become bitter over. They have seemingly been left alone, unaided, shamed and stigmatized for something that was never their fault to begin with.

But we all know that nursing bitterness and envy only creates a vicious cycle of violence and decay, in every sense of the word. So, may these women, in their desperation and pain, come to Jesus for healing only He can provide. May we all.



Do you know Jesus?

God said to Joshua in Joshua 1:5, “No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you.”

Do you want God to be with you—to never leave or forsake you? It’s true that God is omnipotent; and therefore, He is always with us. But it is a different matter to know Jesus personally—and to know that He will never, ever leave you, no matter what.

Learn more about Jesus—this God who wants to have a personal relationship with you, personally—here.


Please pray for (print out a Prayer sheet, here)…

  • The Dapchi girls. Just like the Chibok girls, these 110 young women were kidnapped two weeks ago from Dapchi, Nigeria. Please pray for them to be rescued and freed, soon.
  • The Chibok girls. Please pray for their soon return!
  • For the Chibok girls, and other girls kidnapped by Boko Haram, struggling to be reintegrated back into society. Pray that walls would be broken, and that Jesus would bring these young women to Himself, and that they would experience liberation.
  • That “Doctors without Borders” would be able to return to Northern Nigeria, especially Rann, to continue to give humanitarian aid to those who are desperate.
  • That those who resent others in their lives would find freedom in forgiveness, as they bring it to Christ.
  • Reflect: Where are you harboring envy, jealousy, or resentment? Submit to Jesus and ask Him to heal those parts of your life, today.

Thank you for your prayers

1 https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2018/03/03/590550649/aid-group-pulls-out-of-nigerian-town-following-deadly-suspected-boko-haram-attac

2 https://www.vanguardngr.com/2018/03/photos-dapchi-escapees/

3 https://qz.com/1220746/boko-harams-kidnapped-girls-turn-accused-on-returning-home-in-nigeria/