The Weight of Sin: Refusing to Be Free

 Letter from the writer: “The Process of Healing” and this post were meant to be one post, but upon writing the post, I was led to create two separate, smaller posts with similarities, yet with two different themes. If they seem to read the same, that is why. 🙂


On May 13th, email messages came into the inbox of ISAIAH 62 PRAYER MINISTRY with shocking, yet unbelievably true, news: there are, indeed, at least four young women who do not want to leave Boko Haram captivity.

In this video, shared by Bring Back Our Girls and reported by SaharaTV, four of the reported Chibok schoolgirls, including one young woman named Maida Yakubu, explains that she does not want to leave Boko Haram captivity because “they [her parents] live in a town of unbelief,” and that she wants them to “accept Islam” (source). She says all of this while covered in a black hijab, holding a large gun.

There is chance that these are not Chibok schoolgirls; or that they are being made to say such things. But, if it is true, this news is crushing—especially for the parents of these young women, who have cried out to Christ for their safe release/return. To learn that their  daughters do not even want to be free, and do not even want to see them, must be a shattering blow to their hearts.

BOUND AND BLIND

While these young girls did nothing sinful to be kidnapped and taken into captivity, this idea of young women refusing freedom and home reminds one of sin—and of the bonding, blinding effect it has on our lives, as it did in the life of Samson.

The biblical account of Samson can be found in the book of Judges. Samson was a man who had every bit of potential: He was born a Nazirite, which is a person who is dedicated to the LORD and does not cut their hair, drink wine or fermented drinks, nor do they touch anything unclean. Set apart to the LORD, Samson’s uncut hair made him a strong man—a man who frequently had the Spirit of the LORD fall upon him in power (Judges 13, 14:6).

Yet, for all of the potential Samson had, he wasted his life on sin—from getting even with those who wronged him by striking down thirty men (Judges 14:19-20), to lighting an entire community’s produce on fire in anger (Judges 15:3-5), Samson used the strength and potential Christ gave him in ways that were far from God-honoring.

One of the most volatile sins in his life, though, was his promiscuity and life-long sexual sin (Judges 16:1-3). In his infatuation with Delilah the Philistine (the Philistines were one of Israel’s greatest enemies), Samson told her the secret: that it was his hair that caused his strength (Judges 16:4-17). Delilah sold him out to the Philistines; they cut his hair, plucked out his eyes, and bound in chains (Judges 16:18-22).

Yet, Samson’s life was not a complete waste. As his hair grew back, he regained his strength; and, in the Philistine’s celebration of Dagon, their false god, Samson pushed over pillars supporting the building they were all in (Judges 16:29-30). “Thus he killed many more when he died than while he lived” (Judges 16:30b). Killing the Philistines’ leaders and many more, Israel won a victory over the Philistines. Still, this painful life shows that the enemy indeed means to kill, steal, and destroy through sin, which binds one—and usually blinds one to the fact that they are bound.

Again, these four young women have done NOTHING wrong to be in the captivity they are in at the moment. But the fact that they have been so brainwashed as to believe that they are in a good place, when they are obviously still bound, is a cause for deep sorrow, and earnest prayer. “But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom” (2 Corinthians 3:16-17).


Do you know Jesus?

“It is the Sovereign LORD who helps me. Who will condemn me? They will all wear out like a garment; the moths will eat them up.”
(Isaiah 50:9, NIV)

The weight of sin is incredibly heavy—it produces death, physically and spiritually (Romans 6:23). And while no one can escape their physical death, there is a death, the second, spiritual death that one can escape.

But how? There is no way a person can live a totally sinless life. Instead, God Himself came down to Earth, to do exactly what nobody else could do: pay the wages of sin, for those who take on the free gift of eternity.

“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23). Take on God’s eternal gift—paid by Himself, Christ Jesus—today. Read more here.


Please pray for:

– These four Chibok schoolgirls; for Maida Yakubu, who spoke in the video.

– For the remaining Chibok schoolgirls, that they would all want to be free.

– For the Nigerian government, as they continue to collaborate with the International Red Cross, and the Swiss Government, to free the remaining girls.

– For the Nigerian military, who is suffering losses, according to this article.

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82 MORE CHIBOK GIRLS FREED!!!

I thought I would never type the words.
But I was wrong.

On May 6th, 2017,
82 more of the Kidnapped Chibok schoolgirls were freed from Boko Haram captivity, in negotiations for Boko Haram soldiers!!!

They were freed in negotiations between Boko Haram, the Government of Switzerland, and the International Red Cross.

Can we just sit in the wonder of those words for a moment?
Too often, my heart jumps to the bad news, or to the things that still must be done.

But we called. JESUS ANSWERED. He has heard every prayer written upon this blog… whether written with a heart full of faith, or one just hanging onto faith by a thread and full of sorrow.

Whether written because, dare I say it, “it’s been the routine way of how I write blogposts,” or if it was really, sincerely meant– written with tears.

As a pastor once said, “It is not the prayer itself, but in whose Hands it is in.” These prayers that so many people have prayed were put into God the Father’s Hands… and He has the authority to speak a word, and bring these captive, oppressed young women into the light of freedom. Do you believe this?

Isn’t that what He has done, for all of us, at one point or another?
Maybe you find yourself in that place of captivity, bondage and oppression, today.

Friend, if there is one thing we can all learn during the celebration of these 82 young women’s freedom, it’s that Jesus wants us to be truly free.

And only He has the authority to do such a thing in a person’s life. Sure, the President of Nigeria, the government of Switzerland and the International Red Cross can do their work in physically freeing these 82 young women, but what about being truly free?
Free from believing lies. Free from the shame, the fear, the anxiety.

There was a dry season in my life toward this blog where I, to horribly admit it, didn’t fully trust or believe that the Chibok girls were going to be freed.
Time went by. Nothing seemed to be happening. And thinking that one day, news Headlines would say what they say today… this underlying belief was hard to hold onto, in certain moments.

I thought truly thought I would never type these words. BUT I HAVE!
May that be an encouragement and a testimony to you:
That you, like these Chibok schoolgirls, can be freed by turning to Jesus Himself.
That, when it seems hopeless, Christ is still moving.
That HE ALONE has the authority to calm the wind and waves… and HE ALONE has the authority to set  you truly free.

As we celebrate these 82 beautiful Chibok girls, let’s be reminded that Jesus Christ is mighty to save, and that HE ALONE gets the glory! 🔹

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Used Courtesy of BeautyBeyondBones.com


Do you know Jesus?

There’s no other way to put it.
Only Jesus Christ can truly set a person free. No amount of trying really hard, meditation, medication, romantic love, drugs, partying, food, lack of food, or self-control in and of itself can save a person from themselves, setting them truly free.

He is not here to throw stones at you. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him” (John 3:16-17, ESV).

Jesus has paid ALL that you owe– if only You would accept Him and what He has done for You on the cross. Learn more about Jesus, and meet Him, here.



Let us pray for…

  • The 163 kidnapped Chibok schoolgirls that are now FREE. 
  • The Nigerian military, as they continue to participate in these negotiations and rescues of the Chibok girls.
  • The Nigerian government; that President Buhari would come to know Jesus, and give HIM all the Glory for what has gone on.
  • That Boko Haram would be crushed, so that it’s members can come to know the Truth found only in Jesus Christ. Members were traded for the Chibok girls, so please pray that they do not do any worse damage.
  • That the remaining 113 Chibok schoolgirls would be FOUND, soon!

Jesus hears our prayers, friends! Let’s continue to lift up the Chibok girls, and those involved in this insurgency, to Him! ❤

A Change: NEW VIDEO BLOG POST!

“The Boko Haram terrorists are not professionals. They don’t know what we know. They just rush to the battle front to attack as sheep without shepherds and we kill them in numbers.”

On April 28th, 2017, these were the words of Major-General John Enenche, the Director of Defense Information, when speaking about Boko Haram. According to Enenche, the Nigerian military has employed new military tactics to fight the Boko Haram insurgency, and have been successful in it, so far. While he did not go into detail about what those tactics were, he denied the claim that Boko Haram is getting stronger. Instead, he explained that new tactics were “drawing enemy fire,” and that “the insurgents were being killed in scores,” according to the Nigerian Tribune.

As apart of the military’s tactics against Boko Haram, they have started doing daytime patrol over the Sambisa Forest, Boko Haram’s biggest stronghold; during one of these, the Nigerian military “sighted” an “artillery piece, which was concealed under a tree” (source). Sending down airstrikes, the military was able to destroy the piece of artillery, and maybe even kill members of Boko Haram in the process.

It is no surprise that a different tactic may, or may not, yield more desirable results. Because the wiles of the enemy (physical or otherwise) are prone to change at some points, it is important to be aware of their changing tactics, and to be ready to change one’s own tactics, accordingly.

A Call for Change

It is this idea of change that Christ impressed upon me, one day. As I thought about it, the idea sounded refreshing: creating a written voice-over blog post sounded like fun, a definite idea to consider.

That initial call for a change is what led me, Annalee Hoover, the steward of Isaiah 62 Prayer Ministry, to create a video post, now available on YouTube. But when I sensed the Holy Spirit leading me to create a video, I wondered what it would be about.

The Story

To fully appreciate the video, I must tell the story of where it all came from.

When the Chibok schoolgirls were taken in April of 2014, I didn’t learn about their story until two weeks later. As I found out, I experienced some of the most heart-wrenching sadness I have ever experienced. What ensued what seeking Christ diligently in prayer. One day, as I was reading the Word and seeking Christ, He led me to read Isaiah, chapter 62.

For Zion’s sake I will not keep silent, for Jerusalem’s sake I will not remain quiet, till her vindication shines out like the dawn, her salvation like a blazing torch. …I have posted watchmen on your walls, Jerusalem; they will never be silent day or night. You who call on the Lordgive yourselves no rest, and give him no rest till he establishes Jerusalem and makes her the praise of the earth.”
(Isaiah 62:1, 6-7, NIV)

Reading through Isaiah 62, I knew what I had to do. I was going to 1) continue in prayer over and for the Chibok girls; 2) tell others about their story, and be their advocate (Proverbs 31:8); and 3) encourage others to pray about them, as well.

It is no secret that this is what ISAIAH 62 PRAYER MINISTRY was created for. It will continue to go on this way. It has existed to tell others about what is happening in Northern Nigeria, so that others may knowledgeably pray for the Chibok girls, and for those stuck in the horrific nature of the Boko Haram insurgency. During the last 2 1/2 years, I have been utterly blessed to be able to steward this blog. The blog has documented, if not all of the news pertaining to this insurgency, then A LOT of it. In stewarding the blog, I have seen the soaring highs of Nigeria’s victories against Boko Haram, like the successful attack on the Sambisa Forest, Boko Haram’s stronghold; yet, I have also seen heart-rending lows, such as the use of 10 and 11 year old girls for suicide bombers. Through it all, though, I have seen one amazing thing: Christ’s faithfulness.

As I wondered what this video would be about, it hit me: Christ has been faithful, and has moved greatly! This MUST be celebrated.

Yet, at the same time, there is still much to do for the lives of the Chibok schoolgirls. 195 remain missing. Boko Haram continues to attack Nigeria sporadically, even in 2017. There is also much to be done, in the lives of those who are currently malnourished, living in a land far away from their Homes because of Boko Haram violence. Nothing can, or should, take these facts of life away.

But, in light of all that Jesus Christ has done, there is a reason for real Hope. You see, at the time of Isaiah 62 being written, Israel was about to be put into a monstrous exile. Israel would be attacked, and its inhabitants would be sent to a place far away from home. Yet, 70 some years later, the prophecy of Isaiah 62 was fulfilled: instead of “Deserted” and “Desolate,” Israel became “Hephzibah”: Once again inhabited, and “Delighted In” by their Maker.

While they are unlike Israel in that the Chibok girls, and those victims of the Boko Haram insurgency, have never done ANYTHING to deserve their captivity, a similar “impossibility” happened for Nigeria.

At one point, Boko Haram had taken over 11 towns and villages in Northern Nigeria; now, they have been reduced to sporadic attacks.
276 schoolgirls were kidnapped by Boko Haram from Chibok, Nigeria– and as of May 1st, 2017, 81 Chibok girls have been able to flee, be found, or be rescued through negotiation from Boko Haram, with just one of those girls miraculously being Asabe Goni.

All of this points to Jesus Christ, being the God of the Impossible, able to do “impossible” things. This is the reason for, and content of, the video that has been released, today.

The Video

Though 6 1/2 minutes long, this video is meant to 1) celebrate all that Christ has done in the lives of the freed Chibok girls, refugees, and all others involved in the Boko Haram insurgency; and 2) to highlight the still very horrific ordeal many are going through, and the need for Christ to touch and move in the situations presented. (It has been separated into 5 parts, because of technical difficulties.) It is my heart to glorify Christ by proclaiming what He alone has done, while supporting and honoring the Chibok girls by keeping them close in people’s minds. Care to celebrate, and commemorate, with me?

If so, please watch, subscribe, and share the videos, presented below!

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLAWklOcx8bkvCeIcImO-XJKoto5681y_c

While I have taken on a new tactic, the Nigerian military’s new tactics could mean life or death for them. May their newest tactics be led of the Lord! After all, it is Him alone who causes victory or defeat (Psalm 20:7).


Do you know Jesus?

“The God of the Impossible,” Jesus Christ, has done the absolutely Impossible: lived a sinless, perfect life, died, and rose again (1 Corinthians 15:3-5). But what did He do it all for? Why does Christ do such amazing things, like set people free and restore their lives?

Because it is who He is. While this might seem like a trite answer, it is true: Jesus, being a God who Loves this world, gave Himself up for it, because He wanted all of us to be with Him, for eternity.

But Christ did not just want “all of us” to know and be with Him for eternity; He wants you to know Him, and be with Him, for eternity. Because of His gift to mankind, all that merely accept Him can come to know Him personally, and will  be with Him forever, in heaven.

Learn more about Jesus Christ, this amazing “God of the Impossible,” here.



Please pray…

  • For the freedom of the Chibok schoolgirls. You can focus on one Chibok girl a week, if you would like, by going here.
  • That Christ would take care of the needs of every malnourished child and person in Northern Nigeria, and that there would be enough aid in the region to do this.
  • That the Nigerian military would continue to be successful in their fighting of Boko Haram, and that people would come to know Christ in the military.
  • That this video would be used mightily by Christ, not only to bring light to the Chibok schoolgirls, but also to bring many to come to know Him as their Lord and Savior.

Thank you for all of your prayers!
Please pray that I would continue to steward this blog in a way that honors and glorifies Jesus alone! Thank you.

Prayer for the Third Anniversary.

This past week, the Bring Back Our Girls movement has been commemorating the third anniversary of the Chibok schoolgirls kidnapping, where 276 young women, ages 16-18, were kidnapped by radical islamic terrorists in the town of Chibok, Nigeria.

To commemorate this solemn anniversary, they have had a GLOBAL WEEK OF ACTION, with the theme, “#3YearsTooLong, #NoMoreExcuses” (source). All week long, marches have been had from the Unity Fountain to the Nigerian President’s Villa Gate; speakers have spoken; Creatives have had open dialogue concerning the Chibok Schoolgirls kidnapping; fliers of “Citizen’s Solutions to End Terrorism” and “ABCs of the Bring Back Our Girls’ Movement’s Demands” have been passed out on streets.

Prayers have been prayed. Daily, moment by moment.
Yet, the Chibok girls were not rescued this morning. The 195 who are still captive have spent this day under the oppression of Boko Haram.

It is a solemn day. It is a day, where it is easy to cry out and ask, “Jesus, so many people are doing so many things to advocate for and bring back these young women… Where are You? Why aren’t You moving?”

But the Truth is, Jesus IS moving. He IS in control, and He has bigger plans and purposes for this tragedy than any human could foresee.

As the Bring Back Our Girls movement has press conferences and lectures on this most disparaging of days, let us pray.


“Dear Lord Jesus,
In Your Word, You said, ‘Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand” (John 13:7). You were talking about Your crucifixion; something that caused Your Disciples a lot of pain.

Jesus, we are in a lot of pain. Some of us have not let ourselves fully feel it… but we are hurt. Discouraged. Angry. Please, comfort our hearts and minds this day, with the Truth that though we do not understand now, it does not mean that You are not Alive, Sovereign, and at Work in this situation.

Help us to trust You in this.
Please bring back these beautiful girls, soon.
In Jesus’ Name we pray,

Amen.”

Thank you for your continued prayers. Please visit the Bring Back Our Girls’ website for more information.

Prayer for Day 6 of GLOBAL WEEK OF ACTION: #3YearsTooLong #NoMoreExcuses #BringBackHisGirls

This week, the Bring Back Our Girls’ movement is commemorating the third anniversary of the Chibok Schoolgirls’ kidnapping by having what they call a GLOBAL WEEK OF ACTION. During this Week of Action, they have daily marches from the Unity Fountain in Abuja, Nigeria to the Nigerian President’s villa gate, as well as holding different events every day. To also commemorate the Chibok girls’ kidnapping, ISAIAH 62 PRAYER MINISTRY will be saying a prayer each day for the Chibok girls, as well as highlighting what the Bring Back Our Girls’ movement is doing each day.

Please join in prayer for today, the sixth day of the GLOBAL WEEK OF ACTION.


“Dear Lord Jesus,
Thank You for making each and every one of us, 
all because You Love us, and want to be in relationship with us.
You are beautiful, Lord Jesus!

Lord Jesus,
I pray, in Your Name,
That You would touch each Chibok girls’ life in a very real, tangible, and transforming way, today.

Please show each one of them how much You Love them; may that Love, even in captivity, transform their lives, and give them unmistakable Hope for the Future.
Please, speak out for them today, and intervene on their behalf, Lord Jesus.

May they be brought Home, in Your Mighty Name, in Your Precious Timing.
Thank You, Lord Jesus!
In Jesus’ Name I pray,
Amen.”

Today, aside from their daily march, the Bring Back Our Girls’ movement had an evening with Creatives and Artists. Please check out their webpage and scroll down to the “Activity Sheet for Three Year Commemoration” for more details, and to try to participate!

Thank You for your prayers!

Prayer for Day 5 of GLOBAL WEEK OF ACTION: #3YearsTooLong #NoMoreExcuses #BringBackHisGirls

This week, the Bring Back Our Girls movement is having their GLOBAL WEEK OF ACTION to commemorate the third anniversary of the Chibok Schoolgirls’ kidnapping, which happened on April 14th, 2014.

To commemorate the week of this tragedy, ISAIAH 62 PRAYER MINISTRY is posting a prayer post for each day of the week, as well as writing about what the Bring Back Our Girls’ movement, and the world, is doing.

Today, the Bring Back Our Girls’ movement engaged with the public, and handed out fliers of their Citizen’s Solutions to Stop Terrorism and ABC of their Demands to the Federal Government (both of which can be found here on their website). Hadiza Bala Usman, The Managing Director of the Nigeria Ports Authority, urged the military today to rescue the rest of the Chibok girls by or on April 14th, 2017, the third anniversary of their kidnapping, much to the support of the governor of Borno State, Kashim Shettima (source).

To look at what they’re doing tomorrow, feel free to go to their website, and scroll down to the bottom of the page, where the “Activity Sheet for Third Year Commemoration” is posted!

To honor the Chibok girls, let us pray.

“Dear Lord Jesus,
Thank You for all that we have, both materially, and spiritually, in You. 
We would have nothing without You,
Lord King Jesus!
Dear Jesus,

We pray for the Chibok girls, both those in captivity, and those who have been freed.
Dear Lord Jesus,
We pray that these beautiful young women would come to know You, the One who Loves them as no one else. 
Wherever these girls are, and however these girls are, please give them the knowledge of You, knowing that in You they are truly safe.
King Jesus,
be it from the media, from strangers, or from Boko Haram, 
we pray that the Chibok girls would be given rest, and that You would keep them safe. 
Please uphold them until it is time for them to be found and freed, which we pray is very, very soon.
In Jesus’ Name I pray,
Amen.”

Prayer for Day 3 of GLOBAL WEEK OF ACTION: #3YearsTooLong #NoMoreExcuses #BringBackHisGirls

This week, Bring Back Our Girls is having a Global Week of Action, where they are commemorating the third anniversary of the Chibok Schoolgirls Kidnapping, which happened on April 14th, 2017. They are demanding during this week that there would be #NoExcuses, and that the Chibok Girls would be found, freed, and brought back home.

As apart of this Global Week of Action, ISAIAH 62 PRAYER MINISTRY has decided to pray each day for the Chibok girls; ISAIAH 62 PRAYER MINISTRY also wanted to highlight the different events going on in Nigeria and around the world for these girls.

Today, the Bring Back Our Girls movement will be marching (as they will be every day), and also had a Workshop on Missing Person’s Register at 10 AM in Yar-Adua Center in Nigeria. To see more of what is planned for this week, feel free to visit the Bring Back Our Girls’ website!

In light of all of this, let’s pray.

“Dear Lord Jesus,
Thank You for being present with us, wherever we are,  however we are, and whenever we are. You are “Emmanuel”: “God With Us.” Thank You for this amazing privilege!

Dear Jesus,
We pray over the Chibok school girls; we thank You, that they are all alive (source), and that You are still working in their lives. 
Dear Jesus, 
We pray in Your Name that these Chibok school girls would be filled with Your Joy, Hope, and Peace, as they come to know You– and that this Joy, Hope and Peace would not be able to be stolen from them.
Please protect these things in Your Name, Lord Jesus, 
and please, give their families, loved ones, and all who care about them this same Peace, Hope, and Joy, as they look to You to save and deliver the Chibok girls.
We trust You, Lord Jesus.
We ask in Your Name, along with the Bring Back Our Girls’ protesters, that they would be brought soon, and alive.
In Jesus’ Name I pray,
Amen.”

Thank You for your prayers– May Jesus bless you! 🙂