Praying for the 700

Hi Friends,

As of late, Russian President Vladimir Putin has reported that over 700 people have been kidnapped by ISIS, and that these 700 people are in danger of being killed. ISIS wants to murder these people at the rate of 10 a day if their negotiation demands are not met.

This is so much more than political. Some of these people are reportedly from the United States and Europe; more than this, they are all human.

Jesus said in Matthew 24:9, “Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me.” In these last days, for many Christians in Syria and other places in the Middle East, this verse is true. I’m sure that many of those in ISIS’ captivity are Christians, people who love Jesus too much to “convert” to islam. Jesus said it would happen… and this is all the more, a reason to pray for those going through this.

My last thought: Please, more than anything, pray for these people with me. Please pray for their safety, but because it is even more pressing, pray for their salvation.

Pray, pray, pray. Let’s not only petition those in power here on this earth; let’s petition our Loving, Sovereign Father.

father

Learn more about Jesus and what He did for you and me, here.

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Honestly

“I love the way that your heart breaks/ over every injustice and deadly fate/ praying it all will be new/ and living like it all depends on you.”
— “Again” by Flyleaf

Friends,
As difficult as it is to say, I must be honest: I have lacked zeal, passion, and care for the 113 Chibok girls– not to mention the countless other kidnapping victims– still in captivity. I have gone through the motions; I have let routine get in the way of Loving others.

I write this with tears in my eyes. I went back to the start; the start of this blog, and the start of every prayer prayed for the Chibok girls, Nigeria, and it’s people at large.

What did I find? I found Nehemiah 1:1-11.

A prayer to God the Father, from a broken and wrecked individual, for the broken and wrecked, beloved people in his life. A humble prayer, coming from a man whose very heart of hearts had been broken. A man who saw the injustice, and decided, with Jesus as His Guide, to do something about it.

This blog was birthed in August of 2014, for this very reason: broken and wrecked for the 276 Chibok schoolgirls who had been kidnapped, and their community, Jesus put a fire in my heart to do something about it: Let others know, and encourage others to pray.

Over time, though, what started out as a passionate love for these young women, and their situation, became a polished religious activity I did “so that Jesus would be pleased with me.”

I fell into bondage. I lost all the Joy and Life that writing this blog originally gave me.
This has happened a couple  many times since the blog was started. The legalism and bondage got so bad, that now my family is weary of me writing on this blog, at all. They don’t want to see me in fear and legalism again.

I may continue to struggle with this.
And if it all gets to be too much, I will need to take a break, turn around,
and return back to my first Love: Jesus.

But friends, it is really in my heart to keep pressing on, to keep praying for each one of these 276 young women, their families, and everyone affected.

So, please pray. Please pray for me, that I would “not become weary in doing good,” and not turn this into a game of a works-based relationship with God.

Because there is still much to be done. And breakthrough for these people– those victimized and crushed by Boko Haram– is right around the corner.
There are still 113 young Chibok women who have not tasted freedom, yet.
And there are 163 young Chibok women still reeling from their loss.
There is much to pray for, and much to be done, in this nation. In this city.

And out of a Love that could only come from Jesus Himself, I will press on, in compassionate action, for these young women. Will you join me? ❤
_______________________

“Dear Lord Jesus,
Forgive me for turning this beautiful, amazing thing that You have done in and through me into a dead, stale pile of ‘good works.’
I know that NONE of my own ‘goodness’ can save me from the sinner I am.
Jesus,
I pray, with all of my heart, that this would not be about me. Not about perfection, or striving, or numbers and times and bad religiosity. Remove this pharisee-like heart for the Chibok schoolgirls, and replace it with a burning passion to see their freedom.

Dear Jesus,
As long as this blog stays centered upon You, please bless it. Bless those who pray and wrestle in prayer with me. Give us hearts that break for what breaks Yours!
Let us not stop until each one of these captive, beautiful human beings are saved.

In Jesus’ Name I pray,
Amen.”



Do you know Jesus?

No, really. Do you know Jesus? personally?
You may smirk at this question. You may mock it. But it will be the most important question you ever answer.
Learn more about who Jesus is, here.

Fighters for Freedom

Nigeria has been hurting, as of late. On Wednesday, January 25th, Boko Haram militants overtook a military camp in the program “Operation Lafiya Dole,” the counter-insurgency effort created by the Nigerian army. Three soldiers were killed, while arms and ammunition were stolen.

As all of this took place, a new interview came out, from Thomson Reuters, interviewing the mother of a Boko Haram soldier. The interview was both insightful and heartbreaking, as the mother of this Boko Haram member shared her story. The woman, named Falta, is the mother of a BH member named Mamman Nur. As the mastermind of the U.N. Headquarters bombing in Abuja, which took place in 2011, Mamman is reportedly responsible for the death of at least 23 people.

In the interview, Falta, who calls herself “an old woman,” reports that she was forced to live in the Sambisa Forest with Mamman, his three wives, and his children, claiming that she had no one else to take care of her (source). She also stated that while she continually  “tried to talk her son out of joining Boko Haram,” he became more and more involved (source). Taken back out of the enclave by the Nigerian military after a 2015 raid of the Sambisa Forest, Falta is still reportedly in a government safe house, not having any other caretaker.

This interview is difficult to read, because it sheds light on the fact that these murderous, cowardly, evil militants have families who love and care for them. But that is not the only reason. Falta’s remarks describing her stay in the Sambisa Forest, a place known for its Boko Haram hideout– and therefore, it’s symbolic darkness and oppression– were disturbing. In the interview, Falta said that “life in Sambisa was quite comfortable” (source). Complete with their own house, in which Falta had her own room, the enclave also had its own supply vans to deliver food and clothing to those within it, as well as its own doctor, nurses and hospital “to tend to the ill” (source). Surrounded by her grandchildren, Falta described a life that seemed to be pretty luxurious for living in a terrorist camp.

For all of its comfort, the fact that it is still an evil place is what makes her entire testimony disturbing. And yet, this apparent dark oasis in Northeastern Nigeria is not only captivating in that many of its captives have actual physical bondage on; but in that, over time, many captives who stay there run the risk of getting comfortable, and making it their “new normal.” This can be seen in the case of over 100 Chibok schoolgirls, whom reportedly “do not want to go back” (source). If this horrific report is true, these Chibok school girls have been both psychologically and spiritually brainwashed into staying captive to their “husbands.”

In reality, while many are not bound by physical chains or physical, evil people, they lie spiritually imprisoned. The worst part of all? They do not see their chains for the horrendous evil that they are. Heartbreakingly, people stay enslaved all of their lives: to lies, to addictions, and ultimately, to the bondage of sin and death.
Even the Apostle Paul spoke about this carnal trap in Romans 7.

I love God’s law with all my heart. But there is another power within me that is at war with my mind. This power makes me a slave to the sin that is still within me. Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death?” 

(Genesis 7:22-24, NLT)

In probably one of the most relatable, down to earth passages of Scripture, the Apostle Paul becomes honest about his struggle with sin. But while so much of the world likes their bondage, He, knowing the true freedom found in Christ, sees and knows the sin in his life for what it is: slavery (Romans 7:23).


But, for the Believer, there is incredible Hope. While the believer still struggles with sin, they are completely set free from the old law, and from the eternal condemnation humanity’s sin creates.
Meanwhile, the world, because it is blinded to the Gospel of Christ, has no choice but to continue on living within their chains (2 Corinthians 4:4). The Holy Spirit convicts them of their sin, and it’s bondage-creating nature; but not until they choose to know and accept Christ are their eyes opened. But whenever someone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away” (2 Corinthians 3:16, NLT).

Isaiah 62 Prayer Ministry wrote in this article about how Jesus, through the Gospel, literally frees people spiritually. The chains of the Believer are gone; they have been set free (Romans 6:18), and are now able to know God, and obey His commands– not because they have to, but out of a genuine heart of praise.

There are many who have even this freedom in Christ, spiritually– the freedom to be victorious over the sin in their lives, by obeying and submitting to Him– and yet, they use their freedom to find new chains to wear: pleasing people instead of Christ, and spending their lives living in the same prison cells of sin, addiction, anger, unforgiveness, and lust. There are those on the other hand, who also wear new chains– chains of unbelief when it comes to Grace; legalism; and self-condemnation. Many people deal with both types of bondage. Both of these “groups” of people have the chance to leave this bondage, but either won’t, out of rebellion and pride– or don’t even understand how bound they really are.
This is not what Christ wants for anyone, and that definitely includes Believers. Instead, Christ calls His Children to be “Freedom Fighters,” men, women, and children who walk in the glorious freedom from both sin and legalism. Christ desires His Followers to walk in the Light (1 John 1:7). This cannot be done if Christ Followers refuse to step into the Light of Christ, either because of sin, or dead religion.

Like William Wilberforce, the famed abilitionist from the 1700-1800s, Believers must become painfully aware of bondage and oppression; but, to do this, they first must see their own chains, and let Christ set them free.

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” (Galatians 5:1, NIV)

There are hundreds of captives in the Sambisa Forest, who have gotten comfortable, or scared, and do not want to live outside– even if it means they never see their loved ones, or breathe the air of freedom, ever again. Just like so many in the Sambisa Forest, many do not see their need for freedom– or are simply afraid to give Christ, the One who will free them, control. 

But, it is for freedom that Christ has set Believers free. So, whether it would be fighting Boko Haram, or fighting any other type of spiritual bondage, may Believers give Christ the control– and let Him make them more and more into the Fighters for Freedom He has called them to be. 🔹 


Do you know Jesus?

“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus…”
(Romans 8:1, NIV) 

Dead religion– the rituals, rules, and the mentality that one must “earn their way to heaven” by doing “good deeds” is a sad, broken way of life.

In the Old Testament, every rule, and every ritual, pointed to The Messiah– they were shadows of the real thing, to put it one way (Colossians 2:17).

How silly would it be, if a person kept loving someone’s shadow when the actual person is standing in front of them? Yet, this is how many treat Jesus.

The Truth is, those who accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior are not under the “law of Sin and Death ” anymore… They are under the law of the Spirit, completely free from condemnation to have a personal relationship with the God who gave it all to have them (Romans 8:1-2; Romans 5:8).

The time is up for shadows. Meet the “real thing,” the God who sets us free, here.


Please pray with me… 

“Dear Father God, 

Thank You for the Nigerian military, and all that You have done through them to defeat Boko Haram. We know it is not without sacrifice. Please hold the family members of the soldiers killed in the line of duty. 

Father God,

Thank You for showing us all what is happening in Northern Nigeria, and how there are many people who, for some reason or another, are wanting to stay in captivity. 

Father God, 

We pray, in the Mighty Name of Jesus, that You would open the eyes of the blind and unbelieving, who are staying imprisoned without even knowing about it. Please open their eyes to their condition, and bring them to know You. 

Father God, 

We pray for the Believers in these camps, who also do not want to leave. In the Name of Jesus, please open their eyes to the freedom that awaits them. Please open up the way for them, so that they can become free, soon, too. 

Father God, 

We pray in general for those Believers who may be physically free, but are still in some sort of bondage. Show us all where You want to free us; and may we submit to You, and Your will in our lives. 

Please free the captives, and continue to lead us to You. 

In Jesus’ Name I pray, Amen.”

Thank you for your continued prayers!

IMPORTANT NEWS! Maryam: The Story of Redemption & Restoration

“Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Doesn’t she light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin. In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
(Luke 15:9-10, NIV)

Jesus has a passion for every single person (John 3:16). He desires that all of them come to know Him as their Lord and Savior (2 Peter 3:9). Christ’s deep Love is for each and every individual person, no matter who they are, what they have been through, or what they have done.

Over two years ago, 276 young women were kidnapped, in the dead of night, by Boko Haram. Though it sparked a worldwide campaign, called #BringBackOurGirls, it has not been until recent months that 24 young women were freed/escaped Boko Haram captivity. This is one of the amazing, precious young women, dearly loved by Jesus, to be freed.

But, while there is rejoicing over her physical release, there is even greater rejoicing, in heaven, over those who have been spiritually freed.

Please pray for Maryam, that she would know Christ, and would be completely and totally freed, by knowing Christ as her Lord and Savior.

Christ does not just care about numbers; in fact, Christ does not look at the outer shell, at all. He looks at the heart (1 Samuel 16:7). He Loves You, personally, and passionately.

To learn more about the God who Loves YOU personally, please click here.


Important News:

It has been announced, with great, amazing, unspeakable joy, that one more Chibok schoolgirl has been freed!

chibok-girl-maryam-ali-maiyanga

Maryam Ali Maiyanga, and her 10-month-old, Ali, after being freed from Boko Haram captivity (source).

Maryam Ali Maiyanga has been found, and freed, by the Nigerian government, on Saturday, November 5th, 2016!

Troops found Maryam, and her 10 month-old son, Ali, as they were screened after escaping Boko Haram’s stronghold in the Sambisa Forest, in Pulka, Borno State with help from the Nigerian military. Though the Chibok girls were the most high-profile case of Boko Haram’s kidnappings, Boko Haram has kidnapped hundreds– maybe even thousands– of men, women, and children from their homes, keeping them under lock and guard for years. Many, seemingly including Maryam, are either already muslim, or have converted to Islam in Boko Haram captivity– which may be out of fear, or brainwashing.

Maryam’s 10-month-old son, Ali, was claimed to have been fathered by a Boko Haram commander, whom she was either “married off” to, or coerced into having sex with. The child looks well, and will no doubt receive medical care, along with Maryam, from the Nigerian government.

Some of facts may seem horrific… but, while the trauma caused by these events remains, Maryam is physically freeand that is a cause for celebration.

While this is an amazing, joyous event, “there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents” (Luke 15:10, NIV). If there is rejoicing over this young woman’s physical freedom, think of the rejoicing over her spiritual freedom, as she comes to Christ!

Jesus has freed many, both physically and spiritually, from the clutches of Boko Haram, and islam. Jesus is in the business of redemption, and restoration!!! Praise Him!!!

There is still much to be done. This young girl, along with countless others, still has much healing to experience. But, let’s praise Jesus for all He has done, is doing, and will do, in the hearts of captives, refugees, Boko Haram members, and the Nigerian military.

Please pray  that Maryam would come to know Jesus, and receive true healing!



Please join me in prayer:

Dear Jesus,

I praise You, that each and every person on this Earth, right now, matters deeply to you– not to mention those who have passed away, and those who you know are still to be born (Psalm 116:15; 139).

Jesus, we thank You for Your amazing, amazing Love. Thank You for looking at all of us, and declaring us worthy to die for, so that we might be with you, forever.

Dear Jesus, You know Maryam Ali Maiyanga . You saw her, being formed in her mother’s womb, before she was even born. You foresaw every day of her life.

You knew she would be kidnapped, taken, from her family, her loved ones, and her home, to experience the immense bondage perpetrated by Boko Haram.
But Jesus, we know that You are bigger than even the most wicked, deplorable evil. We know that Your Love, shown to us in Yourself on the cross, can break into even the hardest, evil, darkest heart– or the most wounded, broken, confused of hearts– and bring them to truly know You.

Dear Jesus, I pray in Your Name that You would release Maryam from any and all bondage that she is left in. Dear Jesus, please show Maryam that true freedom is found in YOU– and that she only needs to accept Your free gift of Salvation to experience true healing, breakthrough, and a personal relationship with You, God Himself.

Jesus, we pray over the army commander that fathered Maryam’s child. If he is still alive, and wherever he is, please break through his heart, and show him what truly pleasing you looks like: loving you, and loving others. I pray for new, eternal life even for this man, and for all members of Boko Haram.

Jesus, I also pray over Maryam’s son, Ali. 
Dear Jesus, I pray that, though this little boy was born under horrific circumstances, You would restore and redeem his life, to bring you glory and praise. Please bring this young, little guy to you, and show him, and everyone around, that he is not only identified by his past or even this tragic state of affairs– or even by the fact that his father’s blood flows through his veins– but that his identity lies in and by YOU, and the fact that we are all COMPLETELY new creations in You, with Your blood flowing through our spiritual veins, when we accept You into our lives and hearts, as Lord and Savior.

Please, dear Jesus, show Yourself in this situation to Maryam, and to everyone, around her. I thank You for this, Father God. 

In Jesus’ Name I pray,
Amen.

Please continue praying for Maryam, her family, and her story. Please also pray for the Nigerian military, and for their continued success!

Thank you!