The Chibok Schoolgirl Kidnapping: 4 Years Later

Almost four years ago, I was grieved like never before for the plight of 276 schoolgirls from Northern Nigeria.

In an online devotional, I came across women who were praying mightily and fervently for the release of these girls—and I have been praying ever since.

Over the past four years, much has changed. Nigeria has gotten a new president; the Nigerian government has fought Boko Haram with noticeable success. But, for 112 of the kidnapped Chibok girls, and their friends and families, little to nothing has changed.

Many could have children, based upon video footage1; some have gotten married2. But, throughout all the changes, one disturbing, grieving thing has stayed the same:

As of today, 112 Chibok schoolgirls are still in captivity.

My devotional time with Christ brought me to read Isaiah 62-63, again. One of the very passages of scripture this blog hangs upon, it was more than a coincidence that this passage was right next to the passage of scripture I was going to read, today. As I read it, the reason for why I was even led to create this blog once again became clear to me.

“I’ve posted watchmen on your walls, Jerusalem.
Day and night they keep at it, praying, calling out,
reminding God to remember.
They are to give him no peace until he does what he said,
until he makes Jerusalem famous as the City of Praise.”
(Isaiah 62:6-7, The Message Version)

My heart was encouraged by this verse, as I continued to search the passage, remembering what Christ clearly promised me. I came to verses 10-12 of Isaiah 62.

Walk out of the gates. Get going!
Get the road ready for the people.
Build the highway. Get at it!
Clear the debris,
hoist high a flag, a signal to all peoples!
Yes! God has broadcast to all the world:
‘Tell daughter Zion, ‘Look! Your Savior comes,
Ready to do what he said he’d do,
prepared to complete what he promised.”’
Zion will be called new names: Holy People, God-Redeemed,
Sought-Out, City-Not-Forsaken.
(Isaiah 62:10-12, The Message Version)

To be honest, my heart is downtrodden, and a bit cynical, as I have watched day after day go by with little to no change in circumstances. But it is during these times that I understand my need for gratitude. Jesus has brought forth goodness, changed circumstances, and freed many, many people; He just hasn’t done it according to my will or time schedule. It is during these times that I am convicted of my own complaining.

These past four years have been incredibly difficult, but they have been highlighted with many victories. 164 Chibok girls have been freed, and are well on the road to healing, after all they have gone through. Some have even gone back to school—something that is nothing short of miraculous. Parents have stayed alive, and have watched their daughters come and hug them. Numerous people have surrendered this situation to Jesus’ control, and watched Him work in amazing ways.3

But yet, there is so much to still be done. So much to pray for. So much to hope for.

One of #BringBackOurGirls’ hashtags for this four year anniversary is “#HopeEndures.” Oh, how it does. True Hope endures only when our Hope is not in circumstances changing alone, but rather Hope in Christ– knowing that He is in control, and using all things for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28).

Jesus is active, and moving in this situation, far more than we could ever possibly see. Though, in context, Isaiah 62-63 is about Israel, it can be applied to the situation concerning the Chibok girls. Isaiah speaks of a “day of vengeance” for the LORD in faith, as if it had already happened (though he was prophesying about an event that was going to happen in the future).

“…It was for me [the LORD] the day of vengeance;
the year for me to redeem had come.
I looked, but there was no one to help,
I was appalled that no one gave support;
so my own arm achieved salvation for me,
and my own wrath sustained me.
I trampled the nations in my anger;
in my wrath I made them drunk
and poured their blood on the ground.”
(Isaiah 63:4-7, NIV)

It is Isaiah 62-63 that shows us a God who is not passively benign, but rather, is passionate, involved in our affairs, and bent toward making the evil injustices of situations such as these right, again. Though no one else seems to care for those who have been trodden on by the world, Jesus Loves them dearly, with perfect Love—and tramples the evil, disgusting people who have callously trampled them.

It is with Hope and Faith in this God that we look forward to each of these young women making it home—in Christ’s way and timing. Of course this day is a solemn, sad one, as we look at the many young women who are still not free. But, in this sadness, we can choose to look towards Jesus. Looking backward, we can see all Jesus has done; and looking forward, we can wait in expectant Hope to see all that He will do.four years

“Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; His Love endures forever” (Psalm 136:1). May the Truth of this statement spur us all onto trusting Jesus, keep us aware of the Chibok girls’ situation in Northern Nigeria, and keep us praying for their release—and the release of all those taken by Boko Haram. God is good; His Love will endure all things.

This post is dedicated to the women and children found and freed from prostitution as a part of the “Backpage” FBI investigation. May these women and children find ultimate freedom from their way of life, whether they were coerced into it or not, by coming to know Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.

1 http://www.newsweek.com/were-never-coming-back-kidnapped-chibok-girls-say-boko-haram-video-781506

2 https://www.cnn.com/2016/08/16/africa/chibok-girl-amina-ali-nkeki-boko-haram-husband/

3 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xPa9nb4NAhE


 Do you know Jesus?

So many look at the goodness people do as an indication of where they will spend eternity, but this is just not the case. Salvation is not based on what we do– it is based upon what Christ did (Ephesians 2:8-9). No matter who you are, or what you have done, Christ wants you to know that if you believe in Him for the forgiveness of your sin, you will be saved (Romans 3:23; 10:10)!

Learn more about this God, who gives salvation and forgiveness so freely, and why you need Him, here.



Please pray for (you can find the prayer sheet here)…

  • The Chibok school girls. Please continue to pray for their desire to be free, and for their release. You can find a list of their names and pictures, here.
  • The loved ones of the Chibok school girls. Please pray that Christ would give them strength, courage, and patience as they await their daughters’ homecoming.
  • Renewed interest in the Chibok girls. Pray that this world, especially today and in the days to come, would give these women and their plight the attention, prayer, and help they deserve.
  • The safe homecoming of Leah Sharibu. Sharibu is the only Dapchi girl not freed, only because she refused to renounce Christ. Please pray she is able to come home, soon.
  • Northern Nigeria as a whole.

 

Thank you for your prayers!! May the Chibok girls be home this time next year.

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“Hope, Again & Again”: A Poem

On Good Friday– March 30th, 2018– it was reported by Vanguard that four suicide bombers in the villages of Malumti, and Muna Zawiya, Nigeria, bombed a checkpoint. The blast killed three civilians and injured anywhere from 13-18 innocent people. Four Boko Haram members were also killed by Nigerian soldiers in these villages, according to Vanguard.

Indeed, the fact that Christ has Risen is something that is infuriating those who are apart of Boko Haram– and the enemy that is truly guiding them (satan).

It’s hard to see and hear of these attacks. It is heartwrenching.
Yet, when the attack of the enemy comes, we know who wins.

It is with this in mind that I wrote this poem, speaking to those who have been personally affected by these tragedies, as well as those who see it happen in the news, day after day. I pray it is encouraging, and blesses your relationship with Christ.


“Hope, Again & Again”

It’s hard to continue
to look upon tragedy
again and again.

It happened on Good Friday.
This day,
A day filled with sorrow and sadness,
turning out for our gladness,

That day was not “good” only because of what would happen.

No, it was good
not because of mere nails and wood
But because of what was actually taking place.

Face to face,
A man was dying.
A man very loved—
yet never loved as much as He Loved us

Dying, even for the sins of those
Who committed their crime
on Good Friday.

As I Iook upon the tragedies that have happened on this day
through the eyes of my Savior,
I realize that there is more to this
than it seems.

Friend, it’s hard to see this
again and again.
But the promise of what was done,
and what is up ahead
Is enough to let Hope flutter
inside a cage made of dry bones.

Because, even on the worst day of class,
My God is present. He
Sees the hurt, the carnage,
the news reports filled with body counts.
But there is no amount of relief
Like His
When we can look back at the Cross and say,
“Here it is:
Jesus Won. And Jesus Wins.”

god is present real.JPG

So, friend, when you are dying
to see the end of heartache,
the end of crying
Look to the One who sustains with His breath
Who promises an end to sin,
A stop to death,

His arms of comfort, on the way–
His nail-scarred hands to save the day.

Child,
Look this tragedy in the face.
It is okay to cry.
It is okay to wonder “why.”
But take hold of His Hand, my
grieving,
falling-apart-at-the-seams neighbor.
Lord Jesus,
May the Church do all it can to lift these people up,
to love them like You, the Creator.

Smile, sister: Jesus is Love–
And He has done enough.
May that Truth flutter in your ribcage,
free you from the despair, ready to consume.

You can live with Him forever, and He can be your Savior:
But only if you choose. 🔷

 

© Annalee Hoover, 2018

Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.
(Hebrews 10:23, NIV)

This is in tribute to the three civilians killed this past Good Friday. May Jesus come close to and comfort their loved ones.


Do you know Jesus?

Jesus Christ was a person. A person like you, a person like me: being tempted in every way possible, “yet He did not sin” (Hebrews 4:15).

We don’t have a high priest who doesn’t understand our common, day-to-day fragility. God is not some lofty deity, nor is He some impersonal force, such as “the Universe.” Hebrews tells us that Jesus is “The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word” (Hebrews 1:3, NIV). Jesus was fully man, completely able to relate with us, yet is God. Read more about this amazing God, and what He came to do for you and I, here.



Please pray for (find a prayer sheet for this, here)…

– That the Chibok girls, as well as Leah Sharibu from the Dapchi kidnapping, would be freed. You can find some of the Chibok girls’ names, here.
– Those 18 people who were injured in these four separate bombings.
– The families and loved ones of those who lost their lives, this past weekend.
– That the local, and global Church would come together in unity and would lovingly support and aid those who need it most right now in Northern Nigeria.
– That the members of Boko Haram who did this would be brought to full Justice.
– That Christ would come soon; it is only then that real, lasting Peace and Rightness will be known.

Thank you for your prayers!

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

 

The Resurrection & The Life

Today, early this morning, Reverend Billy Graham passed away to be with Jesus, the One who he had preached about for forty plus years.
As we pray for his family, loved ones, and those who are grieving Him– and anyone else today– I just wanted to say this: Jesus is so good. Because, as I was reading in my devotional today, I read about how Jesus says of Himself, “I AM the Resurrection and the Life– the One who believes in Me will live, even though they die” (John 11:25-26, NIV). If you’d like, you can read this incredibly beautiful passage of scripture in John 11 here.

I read about how diagnoses, divorces, pain, and even death do not have the final word– only Jesus does.

About how, even if we don’t see any fruit from the anguished prayers we’ve been praying for days, months, and years on this side of heaven, that we can still trust Jesus to be faithful to His Promises. 

That idea is scary, and heart-wrenching. That everything we have labored for may never actually be seen by us; and that Jesus could answer those prayers in the way we desperately hope He wouldn’t of. 

It is hard to look at Jesus Christ and say, “Jesus, I trust that You are Good,” in times like these. It seems insane, even.

But in these incredibly hard moments, we can cling to Truth: Jesus IS the Resurrection, and the Life. And because of His sacrifice on the cross for our sins that put Him there, those who believe on Him and His sacrifice “will live, even though they die; 26 and whoever lives by believing in [Him] will never die.” Jesus will continue to be faithful to His Promises to you, even if nothing looks like it. You can trust Him, even with your eternal soul, just as the Reverend Billy Graham– and millions both before and after Him– have. Do so, today.

This post is in tribute to the God who saved, led, and used Billy Graham in such a powerful way, to bring others to Himself. May He continue to raise up people to bring others to Him!

 

Jesus, at the end of what He says in John 11:26, asks Martha, “Do you believe this?” I pose this question to you, today. Read more about this faithful God– this God who gives eternal life, and never breaks His Promises to us, and why He died on the cross for you– here.

 

The Benue Crisis | Unity in a Fractured World

boy-african-africa-child-47080.jpeg

“Conflict within, conflict without.” These are the words that best describe the state of affairs in Benue State, Nigeria. Though not brought up on this blog before, the volatile conditions in Benue State, which dub it “The Benue Crisis,” are not conditions to be overlooked.

 

What is the Benue Crisis?

In 2011, Fulani Herdsmen—a nomadic people group, known for being pastoralists— started grazing in areas where indigenous peoples, such as the Igbos and Idomas (located in Benue) lived. In what started a war between the two peoples, the people of Benue complained that Fulani Herdsmen coming to their land caused damage to their crops and worsened the health of their drinking water1. While this issue is only the tip of the iceberg (there is fierce ethnic and religious divides between the two peoples, as well2), it was this issue that broke the camel’s back. Enraged after Benue rejected grazing land for the Herdsmen3, Fulani Herdsmen killed 73 people at the beginning of this year in Benue, while rioting and committing arson in their towns and villages. Approximately 40,000 people have been displaced from the violence, and this crisis has made the Fulani Herdsmen Nigeria’s new biggest internal security threat.4

Reading of the sudden surge of violence, I’m filled with a sense of sadness. Nigeria has already been ripped to pieces by Boko Haram; the last thing it needs is fighting between fellow Nigerians, which breaks up whatever little amount of Unity there is. Yet, as I reflected on this news, it reminded me of another horrible thing, quite similar (but worse than) disunity within a nation: disunity and dissension within the body of Christ.

When the Church Hurts

“How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!” King David wrote in Psalm 133:1. The Bible is chalk full of scripture on the importance of Peace and Unity within the Church body, worldwide, as a whole—and it is obvious from Scripture that such unity leads to Love, growth, and a strengthened Church. Yet, for reasons rooted both in the flesh and in the powers of darkness, the worldwide Church is more fractured than ever, filled with “backbiters” and all kinds of evil.

This kind of evil is especially sad. People expect this kind of behavior from the world around them, since it does not know Christ. But dissension and anger in the Church, along with gossiping and other sins, can catch a person off-guard and severely wound one’s heart and soul. When someone is hurt by sin in a place where they are supposed to be genuinely loved, it can cause one to turn on the Church—and Jesus– forever.

And honestly, who would blame them? When Jesus’ church looks and acts just like the world around it, providing no real love or shelter for those who are in desperate need of it (all of us), it makes sense for a person to leave. But, while it is easy to leave broken relationships and try to find another church to belong to— be it another local church, the world-wide Church, or turning on Christ entirely—it is obviously not Jesus’ desire. So, how is the Christian supposed to navigate hurt or disagreement when such things take place?

Peace Through Christ

First, we must start with the foundation: Peace with God. Ephesians 2 reads:

“8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. 11 Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called “uncircumcised” by those who call themselves “the circumcision” (which is done in the body by human hands)— 12 remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, 15 by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, 16 and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility.”
(Ephesians 2:8-16, NIV)

In context, Paul the Apostle was telling the church in Ephesus that those who were once separated by ethnicity and religious background (for, Jews were taught to stay away from Gentiles, and even Gentile converts to Judaism couldn’t come as close in the temple as Jews5) were now one in Jesus Christ. Think of it—wait, we don’t have to, because it’s Truth! – people of every ethnicity, socio-economic status, skin color, culture, political stance, and even religious upbringing, upon believing in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, become ONE! Parts of ONE Body, baptized by ONE baptism, looking at ONE Hope—Jesus Christ Himself (Ephesians 4:4-6). This Truth changes everything.

This is not just some radical theology, or a truth-filled ideal. This is real. But how does it affect us, personally, on a day to day basis?

As Steven J. Cole so wisely asserts, “Being at peace with God is the foundation for peace with others.”5 To look for peace between people, one must first look to the cross.

Did someone gossip or lie about you? Look to the cross.
Did someone not invite you to a function you thought you’d be invited to? Look to the cross.
Has a difference in opinions or personal convictions (over a MINOR issue of faith) made you hard-hearted and divisive toward a fellow brother or sister? Look to the cross.
Has someone done something inconceivable to you, and you don’t know if you’re ever going to be able to forgive them? Look to the cross.

Listen: Jesus is the One who initiated reconciliation with you. He reached out first.
Not because of what you have done—but because of Who. He. Is.

So, my friend, my family in Christ: forgive. (Matthew 18:21-22)
Do not count someone’s sin against them, forever. (1 Corinthians 13:5)
In the midst of differences in opinion over non-essentials, give room for grace—and love them anyway. (Romans 14:1-4)
And– if safe and wise to do so– let the Power of Jesus’ Love and Forgiveness, through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, allow you to reconcile.

Let me be clear. I am not condoning that a person in a harmful or unsafe situation should stay in that situation— not all forgiveness leads to the complete restoration of a relationship.

But I am saying this: We, as Believers in Christ, belong to each other. As people heading to Heaven, we will know each other, forever. And truly Loving each other—getting through our hurts and disagreements, and still Loving each other after it all– is going to be the boldest, realest witness to Christ that the world will ever see. Hatred is not a political problem or even a religious problem, at least in the ordinary way religion is viewed. Hatred is a heart problem—and only Jesus can change hearts.

In a world where division and hatred is the norm, the world needs this witness now, more than ever. The Salvation, Love, and Peace of Christ is the ONLY true solution to such division as the Benue Crisis. Let’s pray that together, as the Church is strengthened in Love, that the Gospel would be shared—and that even more hearts would be changed: For He Himself is our Peace.

 

This post is dedicated to Deputy Heath Gumm, who was killed by a gunshot wound after responding to an assault-in-progress in Adams County, Colorado. It is dedicated to every peace officer dedicated to protecting society as a whole. Thank you, Deputy Gumm; thank you, America’s Peace Officers.


Do you know Jesus?

It’s one of the first lessons people come to understand as children: Hatred and violence are undeniable parts of our world. No matter where a person grows up, they soon learn the hard truth that this world is tough, and people are mean.

While people fight for love and peace, they have never gained the final victory over it. But Jesus Christ has. For Christ himself has brought peace to us. He united Jews and Gentiles into one people when, in his own body on the cross, he broke down the wall of hostility that separated us. 15 He did this by ending the system of law with its commandments and regulations. He made peace between Jews and Gentiles by creating in himself one new people from the two groups. 16 Together as one body, Christ reconciled both groups to God by means of his death on the cross, and our hostility toward each other was put to death” (Ephesians 2:14-16). This passage is speaking about Peace between ethnically born Jews, and “Gentiles”—everyone who isn’t a Jew. In giving us Peace with God, Christ Himself has brought Peace to ALL people by His death on the Cross.

Jesus Christ gave us Peace with God. Removing the need to perfectly obey the law, we are given Peace with God instead through Jesus’ death on the cross. This is the true and lasting Peace that we need—and one day, Christ will come back to reign over the Earth, “Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end” (Isaiah 9:7). Learn about this God-Man, who offers us lasting Peace with God and with one another, here.


Please pray…

  • For any fractures within the Church. From hurt in the local church body to disdain and hatred between some denominations of Christianity, pray for Love and Unity, as Christ did (John 17:20-24). Reflect on your life—is there anyone you need to make Peace with? Make that Peace today.
  • That Believers all over the world—both in Benue, and those as missionaries in Northern Nigeria—would extend the Gospel, Grace, Love, and Peace of God to both Fulani Herdsmen, and the indigenous people within the nation. Pray that these ministries would be built up, strengthened in knowledge of the Word and in Love, and given all they need to shine brightly during this dark time!
  • That those in the Benue Crisis would seek God, and in doing so, would come to know Christ. “…God intended that they would seek Him and perhaps reach out for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us” (Acts 17:27).

 

Sources & References:
 1https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bscl0pZPfr0
2https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1xkpBEX7cCM
3http://dailypost.ng/2016/03/28/crisis-benue-state-rejects-grazing-land-for-fulani-herdsmen/
4https://qz.com/1178371/benue-killing-nigerias-fulani-herdsmen-attacks-have-over-surpassed-boko-haram/
5https://bible.org/seriespage/lesson-17-reconciled-relationships-ephesians-214-18
6Ephesians 2:16

Thank You: An (Apologetically Late) Letter to Veterans & The Members of Our Military

This past Saturday, amazing people– people who served in unthinkable wars, and survived some of the world’s most brutal trauma– were celebrated, during Veteran’s Day.

But, honestly and sadly, as much as I hate to admit it, Veteran’s Day was not a holiday that I held in the forefront of my mind– at all. Reading BeautyBeyondBone’s post on how this holiday was basically ignored, I felt both convicted for not truly observing this holiday, and inspired to, once again, write on warfare in honor of Veteran’s Day, all at once.

But what was I to write?

After prayer and the Holy Spirit showing a couple of things to me, I believe I am led to write a short post of appreciation for all of my fellow Americans in the military, while also praying for their safety according to Psalm 91. Here it is.


 

Dear Fellow Americans in the Military– and those who are now out of it as Veterans,

From the deepest part of my heart, thank you. Thank you for mustering up the courage, bravery, and seflessness to do such a thing as put your lives out on the line for our freedom: freedom to speak our opinions, freedom to pursue the lifestyles and careers we want, and most importantly, the freedom to worship.

We all know that in other places in the world, Christians are not allowed to even openly believe in Jesus and His Work on the cross, much less meet together to celebrate, worship, and learn from Him through the Word being taught by pastors and teachers. It amazes me that Christ would plant me in America, born in the west, so that I might know Him from an early age, and grow in my relationship and walk with Him with little to no persecution. He could have planted me, planted us, in so many other places, all around the world, but He didn’t.

In Revelation 19, Jesus is called “Faithful and True,” the One who will rain down divine judgment and war (Revelation 19:11). This Mighty Warrior, Jesus, once called an ordinary man– one just like you and me– to fight for the liberation of Israel. His name was Gideon.
Gideon was scared at the thought of fighting against those who were oppressing Israel, the Midianites. But, in the midst of this man’s doubts, fears, and weaknesses, God said this.

The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.
(Judges 6:12, NIV)

Whether you believe in Jesus or not, dear friend, I pray you would understand that Jesus is not a religion. He is a person; a person who deeply Loves and Cares about you. Every anxiety, every fiery trial full of gun fights, and every moment of PTSD-like memories you have, Jesus is right there, waiting for you to call on Him as Lord and Savior, for help. Please do not refuse His Help. For, with Him alone as your Lord and Savior, you have the ultimate victory.

I pray that this has blessed, and encouraged you. I wanted to bless you, by praying Psalm 91 over you.

Dear Lord Jesus,

Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
    will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
    my God, in whom I trust.”

     Please bring these men and women to come to know You, so that they might rest in Your Shadow, and call you their Refuge and Fortress.
Please help them to trust in You when they are afraid (Psalm 56:3).

Surely he will save you
    from the fowler’s snare
    and from the deadly pestilence.

     Please save them from falling into temptation, and the traps of their physical and spiritual enemies.

He will cover you with his feathers,
    and under his wings you will find refuge;
    his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.

     Jesus, please cover these active men and women with Your Feathers.
When all of the fighting and memories get to be too much, please be their refuge.
Please show Your Faithfulness to them– for it is great, Father God.

You will not fear the terror of night,
    nor the arrow that flies by day,
nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
    nor the plague that destroys at midday.
A thousand may fall at your side,
    ten thousand at your right hand,
    but it will not come near you.
You will only observe with your eyes
    and see the punishment of the wicked.

     As they are in the middle of the worst of the worst, Lord Jesus, I pray that You would protect and safeguard each man and woman who is fighting. I pray for amazing miracles, Jesus, to happen on the battlefield– miracles that will speak even to their enemies of who You are, so that all might come to know You!

If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,”
    and you make the Most High your dwelling,
10 no harm will overtake you,
    no disaster will come near your tent.

     Please give these men and women the faith to call upon You as their Refuge, dear Jesus.
     Remove the lies and fears that their own minds and their enemies give them; make them strong and bold in You.

11 For he will command his angels concerning you
    to guard you in all your ways;
12 they will lift you up in their hands,
    so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
13 You will tread on the lion and the cobra;
    you will trample the great lion and the serpent.

     Dear Jesus,
     Do amazing things before the eyes of these men, women, and the people they are fighting to protect. Do supernatural, awe-inspiring things in their midst, so that they will know that You are LORD alone.

14 “Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him;
    I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
15 He will call on me, and I will answer him;
    I will be with him in trouble,
    I will deliver him and honor him.
16 With long life I will satisfy him
    and show him my salvation.”

     Dear Jesus,
     Please bring back these men and women safely! Over EVERYTHING, dear Jesus, may they know You alone as their Lord and Savior!
I pray that they would have a humongous testimony of Your Faithfulness and Help in their lives, Jesus. May they call upon You, and always rely upon Your Love for them and Your blood– nothing else. 

     Please help those who are struggling with what has happened to them– who feel it is impossible to reconcile the fact that You are a Good, Loving God, with the things they have seen. In their doubt and anger, may You show Yourself to be real to them, despite their questions.

     Thank You, Lord Jesus. 

     In Jesus’ Name I pray,
     Amen!

You are all very Loved by Jesus, and by those who are calling upon Christ for you.
Thank you, again, for your service.

With Love, in Christ,
Annalee



Do you know Jesus?

This same God– this “Mighty Warrior,” called the “Lion of Judah” (Revelation 5:5) — is also called “The Lamb that was slain, for the sins of the world” (John 1:29; Revelation 13:8). But why did Jesus have to die? Why did He willingly become a man, to be sacrificed for your sin and mine? Read more about Jesus– and why He did what He did– here.

 

“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”
(John 15:13, NIV)

Thank a Veteran or member of your military for their service, today. Thank you for your love and prayers!!!

The Noble Soldier

This post is dedicated to the four American green berets that lost their lives fighting terror in Tongo Tongo, Niger, along with the countless men and women who give their lives every day in the military.

On October 4th, 2017, four soldiers from the United States were killed in a fire fight between US/Nigerien soldiers and ISIS. In the firefight, one soldier named Sargent La David Johnson, was separated from the rest of the team. After the fight had ended, it took an extra 48 hours to find his body, to bring it back to Dover Air Force Base on October 7th.

This sad, sad news reminds me that it is not only civilians that are suffering in this insurgency, that has now spread to most of the Middle East and Africa. Be it Boko Haram, or ISIS (they are one in the same– Boko Haram pledged allegiance to ISIS in 2015), this insurgency is killing hundreds of innocent soldiers, soldiers who have given their lives so that Boko Haram, ISIS and Al-Qaeda are vanquished.

These men and women are not just numbers and statistics. Behind every fallen soldier is a mother left without a son; a man left without his best friend; and a wife or husband left without their spouse. Millions– millions of people outside of those directly attacked by Boko Haram– have lost their fighting loved ones to Boko Haram. Continue reading