Taking a Short Break

To all the followers of ISAIAH 62 PRAYER MINISTRY, 

I, the steward of ISAIAH 62 PRAYER MINISTRY, will be taking a short break from this blog to focus on why I write and steward this blog… and to pray for the Chibok girls, and for Northern Nigeria. 

Until then, I will continue to update the “Chibok Girl to Pray for of the Week.” Thank you for understanding. 

In Christ, 

Annalee

The Problem of Pain

(Alert: May be triggering for those with eating disorders or other conditions involving severe malnutrition. Reader’s discretion is advised.)

Imagine the scene. A baby girl, probably not much older than three, lies in a wilting aid worker’s arms. The child’s arms, both a grave 3 inches in circumference, lie still as the aid worker looks into her clouded, distant eyes. Her eyes turn up to look at the aid worker, with only muffled cries to be heard coming from her small, dehydrated lips. The aid worker erupts in tears.

This scene is real. (The video of this real scene will not be posted here, because the severity of the child’s undernourishment may be triggering to those struggling with traumatic, severe eating disorders, and the like.). The above paragraph only describes the one scene, caught on camera, of aid workers desperately trying to nourish and feed young children. Many of these children and people are Christian, pushed out of their homes by the radical islamic terrorist group, Boko Haram.

In Bama, Nigeria– and truly, in any place where Boko Haram has wreaked havoc– hunger is an insidious epidemic. Internally displaced peoples (IDP) camps found in Bama, and in Northern Nigeria in general, are reported to be harboring thousands of displaced people, in camps which have no adequate water, food, or sanitation; and in all of Northern Nigeria, Chad, Niger, and Cameroon, there are approximately 7 million people suffering from starvation (source). In a report created by Unicef in June 2016, Unicef claimed that approximately 134 men, women, and children were at risk of dying from severe malnutrition per day in Borno State, alone (source); the number of starving children in these regions has doubled from 250,000 to just over 515,000 starving children in recent months (source). Gruesome pictures of some of the most malnourished children are difficult and heart-wrenching to see.

The effects of having literally no food in this region is showing itself in horrific, unspeakable ways. Another report, written by Amnesty International, said that 1,200 bodies had been buried in one guarded camp in Bama, in the past year, alone (source).

In such a place, where hunger, sexual abuse, general maltreatment, and death are a regular occurrence, one can ask the question: “Why?” Why would such a hell on earth exist, and why would such suffering be permitted– a suffering that makes those who witness it, cry out in desperation for those going through it?

This suffering seems unbelievable. Yet, unfortunately, the amount of human pain and suffering all over the world is nothing new. In the time of King David, and the Worship Leader, Asaph (read more about him¬†here), human suffering– especially the suffering of the Godly– was prevalent, and just as disturbing as the horrific scenes seen in today’s times.

It was the suffering of the Godly that caused Asaph to write Psalm 73.

The Problem of Pain

In Psalm 73, Asaph’s complete, raw honesty about the way reality can look, sometimes, is both understandable, and refreshing. He starts with the main problems disturbing him, in verses 1-3.

“Truly God is good to Israel,¬†to those whose hearts are pure.¬†But as for me, I almost lost my footing.¬†My feet were slipping, and I was almost gone.¬†For I envied the proud¬†when I saw them prosper despite their wickedness.”¬†
(Verses 1-3, New Living Translation)

In the next 9 verses, Asaph describes the type of people he is talking about. They seem to have no bodily, mental, or emotional problems at all (v. 4-6); they have all they could ever need or want in this world (v. 7, 12), and they’re full of pride, arrogance, and cruelty (v. 6-9). Looking at this description, it can be easy to imagine the type of people Asaph is envious of. Today, there are celebrities, CEOs, and regimes that can make the average person feel the same way.

Although those who are well off can easily become proud, arrogant, and heartless like those described in Psalm 73, it is important to recognize that money, and being rich by the world’s standards, is not inherently evil. The love of money is what has made these people’s hearts proud.

An Honest Question

After describing these seemingly “perfect” people with no problems, Asaph asks some very blunt, profound questions. “Did I keep my heart pure for nothing?¬†Did I keep myself innocent for no reason?¬†14¬†I get nothing but trouble all day long;¬†every morning brings me pain” (Psalm 73:13-14, NLT). This question has been asked by the heavy, hurting hearts of suffering and persecuted Christians, since Christ ascended, and the early Church was extremely persecuted. Asaph is effectively asking, “Has knowing YHWH, and walking in His Way, been worth all of the pain?”

The Realization

In this moment of honesty, Asaph quickly realizes the seriousness of asking this question. Without getting enveloped in the pain that he feels, he “…tried to understand why the wicked prosper” (Psalm 73:16, NLT). But, it is not until Asaph comes to God’s Sanctuary that he understands the truth of the situation (v. 17).

Truly, you put them on a slippery path¬†and send them sliding over the cliff to destruction.¬†In an instant they are destroyed,¬†completely swept away by terrors.¬†When you arise, O Lord,¬†¬†you will laugh at their silly ideas¬†as a person laughs at dreams in the morning.”
(Psalm 73:18-20, NLT)

While those Asaph was envious of¬†seemed to have it “all together,” their eternal stance was fatal. Some live a life of luxury, never realizing how frail and short their lives are; but others who are aware of their need end up realizing the Truth: That without knowing Jesus personally, even the “happiest” of lives is meaningless.

Humans come and go on this earth. Yet, the human heart– despite all of humanity’s brilliant innovations, worthwhile causes, and their best ingenuity– has not changed at all from Asaph’s time (or from the beginning of time, for that matter). Humanity is still searching for their own meaning without God, though they need Him; and many people alive, today, cynically look at the world around them, and would say exactly what those in verse 11 do: “‘What does God know?’ …’Does the Most High even know what‚Äôs happening?'”

But while humans have come and gone, God has not. Jesus Christ is the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the Creator and Sustainer of all Things (Revelation 22:13; Colossians 1:16-17). He was there, to comfort and counsel Asaph, and He is here, available to do the exact same thing.

In a world that is, at times, extremely hellish, there will always be a “problem of pain,” as CS Lewis described it. While the question of “Why?” can never be perfectly answered in this life, the heart of the Psalmist gives great insight: That those who suffer for loving Jesus will never suffer in vain, and that, perhaps the very thing a person thinks is meant to kill them, will actually be something that will bring them closer to Jesus.

True happiness is not being the person without any problems, devoid of earthly suffering. As one quote puts it, “True happiness is doing what God has called you to do.” The Hope, Joy, Love, and Strength Asaph acquires because of this realization is obvious, in the last few verses of the Psalm:

“Yet I still belong to you; you hold my right hand. You guide me with your counsel,¬†leading me to a glorious destiny.¬†Whom have I in heaven but you? I desire you more than anything on earth. My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak, but God remains the strength of my heart; he is mine forever. Those who desert him will perish, for you destroy those who abandon you. But as for me, how good it is to be near God! I have made the Sovereign Lord my shelter, and I will tell everyone about the wonderful things you do” (Psalm 73:23-28, NLT).

The suffering of those in Northern Nigeria, Niger, Benin, and Chad is grevious, and the pain Christians are suffering as a result of Boko Haram– and other terrorist groups– is nothing short of a nightmare. But, as the suffering person comes to Christ and rests in His Strength, the problem of pain becomes a reason for joy, not based on circumstances, but on a relationship with Jesus Christ. This is what David meant when He wrote Psalm 18:28: “You, Lord, keep my lamp burning;¬†my God turns my darkness into light.”¬†



Do you know Jesus Christ?

“When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.'”
(John 8:12, NIV)

Jesus Christ came to the world, so that those who believe in Him might have life, and have it abundantly (John 10:10).

A lot of the time, people take this to mean almost the opposite of Psalm 73: That by knowing Jesus, one can ask of Him anything they wish; they will have all they ever wanted; and that their lives will be devoid of suffering. But, as made obvious by Psalm 73, and verses like John 16:33, this is simply not true.

While Jesus came to give people full and abundant lives here, His death on the cross accomplished much more than anything a person could have on this earth. He came to die for the sins of mankind, so that man might have a way to have a personal relationship with God, through Christ Jesus alone, leading to eternal life– something much more precious than any sort of thing that could be had or experienced on this earth.

When the Lord Jesus Christ is one’s Shepherd, they lack nothing (Psalm 23:1).
Meet the God who came, that you might gain eternal, abundant life by knowing Him, here.


Please pray for…

–¬†Those who are currently starving to death in Bama, Northern Nigeria, and the surrounding countries of Niger, Chad, and Cameroon. Please pray that they would come to know Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, and that in His Name, they would receive the physical sustenance needed to live, heal, and grow from this traumatic evil.

– People to rise up, who are Bold, Loving Followers and Believers of Jesus Christ, who can share the Gospel with all those in need, to eradicate the evil cancer of islam that has spread. Pray that they would not fear terrorists, but would instead love them radically.

– That aid organizations would continue to receive the funding needed– especially Christian aid agencies– to help treat those suffering from malnutrition, disease, and wounds from Boko Haram. A list of different Christian and Secular agencies to donate to is here.

РThat the people of the Nigerian military, and Civilian Joint Task Force (CJTF) would come to know Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, and would serve and protect those most vulnerable right now. Pray that those who have perverted their authority by sexually abusing vulnerable people would receive Christ, and that their victims would be brought Justice for the crimes committed to them.

– All of the people still under the spiritual, physical, mental, and emotional oppression of Boko Haram, and similar islamic groups. Please pray that Jesus would free these people, and that the spiritual darkness surrounding them would leave, as Christ makes His Presence known to ALL people within the camp.

Thank You for your prayers!!!

Bring Back Our Girls’ #Day1000 GLOBAL WEEK OF ACTION Links

To the Readers of Isaiah 62 Prayer Ministry:

The official #Bring Back Our Girls movement (found at bringbackourgirls.ng) has been honoring the #1000Days that the remaining 195 Chibok schoolgirls have been in captivity, this week. To bring light to the fact that these precious young women still have yet to escape/be found, the official #Bring Back Our Girls movement has created a “#1000Days” Global Week of Action, from January 8th to the 14th.

Below is the link to their schedule of activities for the week, in case you want to participate in some form or fashion. They are having daily protests and walks in Abuja, Nigeria. On January 8th, they also protested and walked in four different major cities: Washington DC, Paris, Lagos, and Abuja.

You can learn more here:¬†Bring Back Our Girls’ “Schedule of Activities for #Day1000 Global Week Of Action”

If, for some reason, you cannot actively participate in this Global Week of Action, ISAIAH 62 PRAYER MINISTRY asks that you would read through the Bring Back Our Girls’ movement’s article, “REQUEST FOR SPECIAL PRAYERS FOR OUR #CHIBOKGIRLS IN CAPTIVITY FOR 1,000 DAYS,” as it outlines 7 different things you can be praying for the Chibok girls, the Boko Haram insurgency, and Nigeria in general. You can read it here.

 

Today is #Day1003, and the focus is on “Corruption/Poor governance” in the country of Nigeria.¬†Please be praying for the corruption and poor governance found in Northern Nigeria.

ISAIAH 62 PRAYER MINISTRY wants to share a popular verse, Isaiah 9:6, for today’s theme.

A child has been born to us;
    God has given a son to us.
    He will be responsible for leading the people.
His name will be Wonderful Counselor, Powerful God,
¬†¬†¬†¬†Father Who Lives Forever, Prince of Peace.”
(Isaiah 9:6, NCV)

Please pray that all of Nigeria would truly come to know Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. It is only then, that true Peace and Righteousness will reign.
While this may not happen until Jesus comes back, let us be praying that Jesus’ Kingdom would come, on Earth as it is in Heaven. Thank you!

 

Please forgive me, the writer of ISAIAH 62 PRAYER MINISTRY, for not posting these links sooner. May Jesus bring these beautiful girls back soon.

Thank you for your prayers!

Conquerors through Christ

A shiny new motorbike has been given to a man, committed to the community he rides it around in. This motorbike “…will take me to anywhere I want to go,” Fon Godlove says, but he has not been given this motorbike for recreational purposes (source). Called a “vigilante,” this man is apart of a movement aimed at preventing Boko Haram violence in parts of Northern Cameroon– and Nigeria, the birthplace of Boko Haram– where police presence is unfortunately lacking.

Wielding weapons such as rusty machetes, these people– young and old, men and women– put their lives on the line daily to ensure that Boko Haram does not put their homes in danger. While they are not given official authority by the government, viligantes are welcomed by the government of Cameroon, and have fought alongside their nation’s army in many instances (source). These rag-tag defenders may not be as physically well-equipped as official Nigerian officers, but their courage, determination, and deep knowledge of their own communities makes them formidable enemies against Boko Haram.

The concept of vigilantes brings up a very important question: what makes a truly good soldier? In the Old Testament, the concept of a good soldier is found especially in the books of Numbers and Joshua, both of which were hugely important parts of Israel’s history. Though there were many thousands of men in Israel’s army, and many battles won and lost in Israel’s history, one special event early in Israel’s formation can teach us much on what it takes to become a truly good soldier: when the spies were commissioned to spy on and survey the Promised Land in Numbers 13-14.

Numbers 13 starts out with anticipation, and a sense of excitement. 12 men are sent out by God through Moses, one man for each tribe of Israel: “Shammua the son of Zaccur, …Shaphat the son of Hori, …Caleb the son of Jephunneh, …Igal the son of Joseph,¬†…Hoshea¬†the son of Nun, …Palti the son of Raphu, …Gaddiel the son of Sodi,¬†…Gaddi the son of Susi; 12¬†…Ammiel the son of Gemalli; 13…Sethur the son of Michael; 14¬†…Nahbi the son of Vophsi; 15…Geuel the son of Machi” (Numbers 13:4-15, NKJV, shortening mine).

Renaming Hoshea Joshua, or “YHWH is Salvation,” Moses sends these twelve men to spy out the “Promised Land,” or the land of Cannaan; they are commanded to survey “whether the people who dwell in it¬†are strong or weak, few or many; 19¬†whether the land they dwell in is¬†good or bad; whether the cities they inhabit are like camps or strongholds; 20¬†whether the land is rich or poor; and whether there are forests there or not”¬†(Numbers 13:16-20). Commanded to be of good courage, Moses also tells them to gather together fruit from the land (verse 20); then, he sends them off.

While all of these men went out to survey the land, as God commanded Moses, only two men were able to conquer and enter the land they had surveyed. This is where the concept of making a “good soldier” becomes somewhat challenging.

In Psalm 44, David writes, “It was not by their sword that they won the land,¬†nor did their arm bring them victory;¬†it was your right hand, your arm,¬†and the light of your face, for you loved them.¬†4¬†You are my King and my God,¬†who decrees¬†victories for Jacob.¬†5¬†Through you we push back our enemies;¬†through your name we trample our foes. …but you give us victory over our enemies,¬†you put our adversaries to shame.¬†8¬†In God we make our boast all day long,¬†and we will praise your name forever (Psalm 44:3-5, 7-8, NIV). In David’s day, Israel was an incredibly successful country, subduing their enemies, the Philistines, and expanding their territory (source). Yet, through this success, David fully realized that it was not¬†his¬†success, but ultimately, Christ’s; it was not any power of man that made Israel able to conquer its enemies, but only Christ’s Power, Faithfulness, and Love that made them able to conquer their enemies.

This is incredibly important because “conquering the land,” whether as physically as the Israelites in Joshua, or spiritually, as Christ’s followers today, does not ultimately require human work, but instead favor from and Faith in Christ. The precipice the 12 leaders of Israel found themselves on in Numbers 13-14– between fighting their enemies completely in Christ’s strength, or being paralyzed by fear– would have been crossed in victory for all of Israel, had they chosen Faith in Christ. Yet, full of unbelief, they refused to go into the land “flowing with milk and honey” Christ had promised them (Numbers 13:27), and instead “all the congregation lifted up their voices and cried, and the people wept that night.¬†And all the children of Israel complained against Moses and Aaron” (Numbers 14:1-2).¬†

Unfortunately, this complete unbelief is disobedience in God’s sight; and, angered by their lack of faith after all He had done for them, Christ promised that the generation who chose to blatantly deny Him would remain in the wilderness: “But¬†as for you, your carcasses shall fall in this wilderness. 33¬†And your sons shall be shepherds in the wilderness forty years, and bear the brunt of your infidelity, until your carcasses are consumed in the wilderness.¬†34¬†According to the number of the days in which you spied out the land, forty days, for each day you shall bear your guilt one year, namely¬†forty years, and you shall know My rejection” (Numbers 14:32-34).

Although Israel’s unfaithfulness caused them to pay the price of wandering around in the wilderness for forty more years, and ultimately, death, those who did believe Christ– Joshua, son of Nun, and Caleb, son of Jephunneh– as well as the Israelites’ children,¬†did¬†enter the Promised Land, just as Christ had vowed (Numbers 14:30-31; Joshua). Despite Israel’s lack of obedience and trust, Christ still chose them– ultimately dying for the sins of Jews and Gentiles alike on the cross, on earth, in human form (Colossians 3:9-11).¬†Truly, the Victory has always been Christ’s– and it is He who makes us victorious.

In this battle against Boko Haram, and more truly, this battle against our enemy, it is not a mastery of skills, the latest technology, or high human strength that creates a good soldier. In the end, a good soldier is one who trusts, and obeys, His Master, no matter the outcome.

Truly, in this battle against the evil of Boko Haram, the entire fight– and it’s victory– belongs to Christ. May all those who fight against evil, whether it would be the Nigerian army, vigilantes, or those walking in Christ’s light, go out with this promise, ready and willing to conquer. As Caleb, a man of Faith in Christ, once said, “Let us go up at once and take possession, for we are well able to overcome it.” [1]

 
[1] Numbers 13:30, NKJV. Bible Gateway.


While this post was not initially written with this in mind, 
this post is dedicated to the late Deputy Cpl. Nate Carrigan of Colorado, who passed away in a shoot-out on February 25th, 2016.
Dedicated to Christ, and to the community around him, Deputy Carrigan will be deeply missed.
Please pray for his family, friends, and loved ones. Thank you.


 


 

Do you know Jesus?

For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. …[God]¬†has rescued us from the domain of darkness and transferred us into the¬†kingdom of the Son He loves.”
(Romans 5:6; Colossians 1:13, NASB)

The original sin of mankind was done out of unbelief.¬†As satan tempted Eve to eat the fruit of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, he planted doubt in Eve’s mind about Jesus’ Goodness (Genesis 3:4-5); and, seeing the fruit as more fulfilling than having a relationship with Christ, she and Adam chose to eat of the fruit (Genesis 3:6-8).

Since this time, we, as humankind, have been separated from God by our sin, and unfaithful in every way (Romans 3:10). But, God has remained faithful (2 Timothy 2:13). Knowing that we could never rescue ourselves, He became the Mighty Warrior we needed, dying in our place so that those who believe in Him might become His Sons and Daughters, His People, and His Faithful soldiers (John 3:16; John 1:12; 1 Peter 2:9; Ephesians 6:10).

Christ died for us, the ungodly, that we might personally know Him as our Lord and Savior– and He forever rescued all those who believe on Him and what He did from eternal death. Meet the Conquering King, here.



Please pray for…

  • Vigilantes.
  • The Nigerian military.
  • The Nigerian police force.
  • Citizens in high-risk areas.
  • That Boko Haram would be defeated; and that their members would come to know Jesus Christ personally, as Lord and Savior.
  • That the Chibok girls would not be forgotten; and that Christ would employ whomever and whatever He wants to save them, both spiritually and physically.

Thank you for your continued prayers! ūüôā

Victory!

There is a darkness all around us. Whether one senses it or not, a spirit of sorrow– of fear, of loneliness, of hopelessness– reigns in the hearts and minds of countless people all over the globe. Daily, we read articles of heartwrenching violence abroad, while locally, the day’s headlines include senseless tragedies, marring the day with disheartening, sober pensiveness.

In nations like Nigeria, Iraq, and inumerable european countries all across the East, this darkness is both strikingly felt and incomprehensibly heavy. With events such as a child suicide bombing committed by a girl as young as seven years old in Nigeria, to the kidnapping of close to 90 christian Assyrians in Syria, the incessant persecution and violence found in these nations are a cause for deep terror in the hearts and minds of people caught in the crossfire. And while the Boko Haram insurgency found in Nigeria and its surrounding nations is being fought back against by a heavy-handed AU Army, the warfare found in Nigeria– as well as across the middle east– is only a symptom, a physical manifestation, of the spiritual warfare occuring all over the planet, every moment of our lives. Continue reading