International Day of the Girl: Freedom

Today, October 11th, 2017, is International Day of the Girl.

The “goal” or major concept for this year’s International Day of the Girl? Freedom.

The YouTube channel “Global Goals” put up a video called “Freedom- International Day of the Girl,” including beautiful young girls dancing to a power-anthem by Beyonce.

The video says, “Girls around the world are fighting for their freedom everyday.” It then challenges watchers to share it on social media, and then answer the question, “What does #Freedomforgirls mean for you?”

#Freedomforgirls means that one day, when Jesus comes back to this earth, all forms of oppression and violence– every single reason for a tear, a sigh, a yearning–
will end. Girls who put their trust in Jesus (and boys too) will be free of whatever burdened their hearts, before.

#Freedomforgirls means what I spoke about recently. That there are 113 young adult women still waiting to be freed from the bondage of Boko Haram. There are countless others in bondage outside of the Chibok schoolgirls kidnapping, too.

And #Freedomforgirls means that, one day, in Jesus’ timing, these girls WILL be freed from the islamic oppression of Boko Haram.

“I break chains all by myself,” Beyonce declares. While I can appreciate her passion, I would have to disagree.

Because we are not the ones who ultimately break our chains. Jesus is.

And so, today, on International Day of the Girl, I ask that we all pray and share the news of the 113 young women still in bondage… because they are not ultimately OUR girls; they are HIS.

The BringBackOurGirls movement will resume their protests and marches from the Unity Fountain to the State House in the capital city of Abuja, Nigeria, starting tomorrow, October 12th, 2017, to demand that:
1) Demand the release of the 113 Chibok Girls
2) Comfort the parents of the 113 girls
3) Provide the public with information concerning the state of the 113 Chibok girls
4) Invite the families of those kidnapped in the “Borno-Adamawa road kidnap,” and the “soldiers- NNPC-University of Maiduguri lecturers” for a meeting to learn what happened to their loved ones
and 5) to set up structured systems of reporting on each case, the management of IDPs, and Justice for those in the counter-insurgency war.

Please pray with me that their demands to the government would be favored!


Dear Lord Jesus,
This world has become (and honestly, always has been) very dog-eat-dog. Violence and intimidation are praised; confidence in oneself is exalted above having confidence in You.

Dear Jesus,
We are flowers quickly fading; but we pray, in Your Name, that You would be our confidence. We pray that You would be the One to set little girls, young women, and even those who are elderly and taken advantage of, Freedom and Justice. 

Jesus,
Thank You for perfectly Loving, Protecting, and Supporting those whom You made in the beginning, “Women.” Many shirts today, in stores, declare that “The future is Female.” But this is just not true. Jesus, in Your Name, please turn these precious men and women to You… because the future is full of YOUR reign, and YOUR Kingdom.
Dear Jesus,
Please free the Chibok girls. Please free those who are still stuck in oppression. Please strengthen, enliven and support the women who trust in You.

Dear Jesus,
As members of the BringBackOurGirls campaign march and rally around the State House of Nigeria, we pray that You would see their desires and demands to the government, and that You would soften the hearts of the government, so that their desires can be met.

We thank You for this, Jesus.
In Jesus’ Name we pray,
Amen.”


Learn about the man who came to die for the sins of all mankind– the only One who can break our chains– here.

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THERE ARE STILL 113 GIRLS NOT FREE.

Years ago, when this blog was first made, I had been praying for months– as well as making prayer bracelets– for the 276 Chibok schoolgirls kidnapped on the night of April 14th-15th, 2014, to whom this blog is dedicated to. At the time, I was heartbroken; Jesus had done a supernatural work in my heart, life, and mind, one I had never before experienced. Sure, I had felt heartbreak over the events in the news, but I could only do so much. I would watch, pray, and move on with life.

This time was different, though. Upon first hearing of the Chibok school girl kidnapping, it unfortunately went in one ear, and right out the other. It was not until a friend from Nigeria, on an online bible study community, asked for prayer and fasting for the girls, that I re-visited the news, and wanted to learn more. You can read the full story on how this blog was created, here.

In prayer and fasting for the Chibok girls, Jesus gave me a passage from Isaiah, concerning the Chibok school girls. It reads:

Because I love Zion, I will not keep still. Because my heart yearns for Jerusalem, I cannot remain silent. I will not stop praying for her until her righteousness shines like the dawn, and her salvation blazes like a burning torch. The nations will see your righteousness. World leaders will be blinded by your glory. And you will be given a new name by the Lord’s own mouth. The Lord will hold you in his hand for all to see— a splendid crown in the hand of God. Never again will you be called ‘The Forsaken City’ or ‘The Desolate Land.’ Your new name will be ‘The City of God’s Delight’ and ‘The Bride of God,’ for the Lord delights in you and will claim you as his bride. Your children will commit themselves to you, O Jerusalem, just as a young man commits himself to his bride. Then God will rejoice over you as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride. O Jerusalem, I have posted watchmen on your walls; they will pray day and night, continually. Take no rest, all you who pray to the LordGive the Lord no rest until he completes his work, until he makes Jerusalem the pride of the earth. The Lord has sworn to Jerusalem by his own strength: ‘I will never again hand you over to your enemies. Never again will foreign warriors come and take away your grain and new wine. You raised the grain, and you will eat it, praising the Lord. Within the courtyards of the Temple, you yourselves will drink the wine you have pressed.'”
(Isaiah 62:1-9, NLT, emphasis mine)

That was three and a half years ago. And though it was such a long time ago, Christ brought it to the forefront of my heart and mind, Friday night, at a Church group.

In praise, worship, and community, Jesus once again drew me to this passage, with one simple, yet poignant, thought: “I have not forgotten them. Have you?”

Over time, I have become calloused and legalistic with this blog. (You can read about that, here.) But the truth is, I can sense Jesus doing a new work in me! Am I still susceptible to it becoming a “have-to”? Yes. But, more and more, I know that Jesus is calling me– and perhaps you guys, too– to a renewed fervency in praying for the Chibok girls.

After all, there are 113 still in captivity. Think about that.

113 families who have not seen their daughters in 3 1/2 years.
113 young women who have been held captive, in bondage, not able to go home or be free, for 3 1/2 years.
113 young women still exposed to abuse, rape, mistreatment, and most likely starvation.

There are still 113 young women. Who matter to Jesus Christ– who are calling out, be it physically, or spiritually, for freedom.
As in the words of Isaiah 62:1, I will not stop praying for her until her righteousness shines like the dawn, and her salvation blazes like a burning torch.” Because of this, I am going to spend the next week or two praying fervently for the 113 Chibok girls who are still in captivity. I invite you, whomever you may be, to do the same.

Please share this prayer request with others! Be it a reblog, or a share to social media, the more people praying for these 113 Chibok girls, the better!

As always, thank you for your love, support, for following/reading this blog, and of course, for your PRAYERS!

Jesus is still working! Let us pray, and storm the throne room on these precious girls’ behalf. ❤

 

 

Bringing the Children to Jesus (Even the Children of Boko Haram Members)

I read this article, about how a man named Zannah Mustapha– a lawyer who is to credit for the negotiations leading to the release of 82 Chibok girls and 21 other girls, also held captive– is now allowing the children of widowed Boko Haram members into his school. In 2007, he started schooling for victims of Boko Haram; and, now, ironically and somewhat controversially, he is allowing the children of those who are to blame for these victim’s tragedies into school, as well.

According to the article, Mustapha agreed to teach the children the Koran, English, and Math, following the wishes of the children’s mothers. He also agreed to their religious rules of having to wear the hijab, and wear ankle-length dresses. “The irony of teaching the children of Boko Haram insurgents who with the very name of their group proclaim that ‘Western Education is Forbidden’ is not lost on him,” All Africa reports. Surprisingly enough, Boko Haram– or at least, the widows of Boko Haram– care about their children’s education.

While much can be said about this, it brings out the humanity of Boko Haram’s members, however warped and deluded it may be. At a basic human level, at least some of the members of Boko Haram care about their children.

Honestly, I don’t know what to think… except for the fact that this sliver of humanity within the barbarity of Boko Haram members shows that they, no matter how evil, are severely marred images of their Creator, the One, True God: YHWH. And as severely marred images of their Creator, they need to not only know what islam has taught them about Jesus, but they need to know the real Jesus: The One who died for their sins, and rose to life again– the One who now sits at the right hand of the Father (Romans 8:34).

The People of Nineveh

It can remind one of the Ninevites, who, at their time, were perhaps some of the most barbaric, evil, cruel people on the planet. They were enemies of Israel, and were known for their violence– they were so violent that I have heard that they impaled the heads of their conquered enemies on poles around the city, to celebrate their victory and superiority.

Because of their evil, Jonah did not want to give them the message of repentance. Instead, Jonah wanted God’s judgment to be reigned down on them– he wanted them to suffer as much as they had made others suffer, and probably for good reason. Jonah was so angry at God showing them mercy, in their repentance, that he wanted to die (Jonah 4:3). God rebuked Jonah for his anger– but he did not only rebuke him.

To teach Jonah a lesson about compassion, God allowed a plant to grow up and over Jonah, shielding him from the heat.

“So the Lord God prepared a plant and it grew up over Jonah, to be a shade over his head to spare him from discomfort. And Jonah was extremely happy about [the protection of] the plant. 7 But God prepared a worm when morning dawned the next day, and it attacked the plant and it withered. 8 When the sun came up God prepared a scorching east wind, and the sun beat down on Jonah’s head so that he fainted and he wished to die, and said, ‘It is better for me to die than to live.'”
(Jonah 4:6-8, AMP)

Obviously, Jonah cared about this plant, and was extremely happy that it had grown in his life. Through this tiny, unimportant plant, God showed Jonah just a sliver of the care God had for the people of the city of Nineveh (whom Jonah, at that point, did not even value as people because of their evil) (Jonah 4:9).

God’s Mercy did not stop at the Israelites; nor did it stop at people who were

africa-2143814_960_720

A child from Nigeria (This child is not [to ISAIAH 62 PRAYER MINISTRY’s knowledge] a child of a Boko Haram member).

morally good. Scripture tells us that “He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous” (Matthew 5:45, NIV). God, true to His Nature, desires ALL men to be saved (1 Timothy 2:4). Also true to His Nature, God cares for the children even of those who are evil– as evidenced by what He says to Jonah in Jonah 4:11, when He mentions the 120,000 children in the city “who do not know the difference between their right and left hand.”

Then the Lord said, ‘You [Jonah] had compassion on the plant for which you did not work and which you did not cause to grow, which came up overnight and perished overnight. 11 Should I not have compassion on Nineveh, the great city in which there are more than 120,000 [innocent] persons, who do not know the difference between their right and left hand [and are not yet accountable for sin], as well as many [blameless] animals?'”
(Jonah 4:10-11, AMP, “[Jonah]” mine)

While Jonah only had in mind the depravity of the Ninevites– which I in no way want to lessen– God saw each person in Nineveh, even those who had no idea of the atrocities happening around them, being committed by their fathers and mothers, and He had both perfect Justice, and perfect compassion, for them all.

The grown adults of Nineveh– those who slaughtered innocent people– were indeed VERY worthy of the wrath God would have reigned down upon them, if they had not repented.

But when they actually heard Jonah’s message, they DID repent– they came to know the Living God, and turned away from their wickedness and violence!!! This is God’s desire for those who are wickedly evil, today.

The God of Both Justice & Mercy

I, in no way, want to lessen the atrocities of Boko Haram. Their acts are nothing short of abhorrent, and those who do not come to know Jesus will be liable to God’s punishment– Hell (2 Thessalonians 1:8-10). God is a God of Justice– and Jesus will bring Justice when He comes back again, as 2 Thessalonians 1 describes.

But He is also a God of Mercy. Should the kids of Boko Haram members be learning the same volatile Koran that their parents have? Absolutely not… but, as difficult as it is to say, that is why we must keep the men, women, and children of Boko Haram in our prayers.

Jesus is the only Way to the Father that so many millions of Muslims are struggling to find and know. Jesus is the One their hearts are waiting and looking for when they try to

Casually_dressed_little_girls_imitating_the_dreaded_terrorist_group_boko_haram.jpg

This heartbreaking picture is one of two young girls from Jos, Nigeria, imitating Boko Haram. These girls (at least to the knowledge of ISAIAH 62 PRAYER MINISTRY) are not actual children of Boko Haram’s members.

keep the tenants of islam. And the children, even of such evil as Boko Haram members, need to know the Gospel– and be saved by knowing Jesus personally, by Grace, through Faith.

Only Love for these people, shown in the form of prayer and sharing the Gospel with them, will change anything. This Love is audacious– scandalous, even.
Will you dare to show this kind of Love– the Love of Jesus?



God’s Love is reckless. Jesus proved it.

Learn more about the God who Loves you– Loves you enough to die for you, so that you might know Him– here.



Please pray with me…

Dear Jesus,
Thank You for Loving us enough to step down out of heaven. Thank You for Loving us enough to step down out of perfect union with the Father, and taking all of our sin and the wrath of God upon Yourself. Thank You for forgiving such sinners, as us.

Dear Jesus,
We pray now, in Your Name, that You would please bring these children that are being taught the Koran, to You. Through whatever means needed, Please, Father God, draw these young children to You– as well as their mothers and fathers. We pray for repentance, Lord Jesus; we pray that Boko Haram would become nothing, because the members of Boko Haram have come to know You, instead.

Jesus, at the same time, thank You for bringing Justice for all of our sin when You died on that cross. Please redeem and free those who have been crippled by Boko Haram. Help us to love those who have been displaced, abused and mistreated horrifically by Boko Haram.

Lastly, Lord Jesus,
We ask that You would remember Your Promise concerning the Chibok girls.

“The nations will see your vindication,
and all kings your glory;
you will be called by a new name
that the mouth of the Lord will bestow.
3 You will be a crown of splendor in the Lord’s hand,
a royal diadem in the hand of your God.
4 No longer will they call you Deserted,
or name your land Desolate.
But you will be called Hephzibah,
and your land Beulah;
for the Lord will take delight in you,
and your land will be married.
5 As a young man marries a young woman,
so will your Builder marry you;
as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride,
so will your God rejoice over you.”
(Isaiah 62:2-5, NIV)

Lord Jesus, You gave this promise to me (Annalee) when I sought You concerning the Chibok girls. Now, three and a half years later, so much as happened– more than I could have ever believed or imagined. You have set so many girls free! Dear Jesus, we pray, we ask boldly in Your Name, that the 113 Chibok girls remaining would be found/would escape the clutches of Boko Haram. You have done amazing things; please do all that You have promised. Let us not forget. May each one be free.

Thank You for this, Lord Jesus.

In Jesus’ Name we pray,
Amen.”

Asking the Honest Questions

Saturday, September 30th, a Boko Haram member by the name of Mohammad Bashir was taken into police custody in Ondo State, in Southwest Nigeria. He was found in Ondo State after fleeing from the Nigerian military’s manhunt for Boko Haram members in Northern Nigeria. While in custody, Ondo State’s police commissioner paraded him around in the public to different news reporters. In doing this, Bashir shared with news reporters that he and other Boko Haram members had planned to attack Ondo State, before being taken in by the Nigerian police.

 

In telling his story, Bashir admitted to “only” killing two people:  a “small child” who was in the brush, and an adult whom he “killed by the roadside,” according to Sahara Reporters. As if killing two people was not a heart-breaking event in and of itself, forever scarring the hearts and minds of those involved.

This news comes out just as another news report was updated, concerning Boko Haram’s victims: 48 people were slain by Boko Haram on July 25th, 2017, and four lecturers from the University of Maiduguri, Borno State, were taken captive. They have now spent 72 days, and counting, in captivity.

It was reported that one of the lecturers wrote a letter to his wife. In it, he urged the Nigerian government to help them, and free them, soon. He spoke of the horrors of captivity. About how much he hated it.

 

As sin runs rampant in Nigeria; as small children are sold for cheap, and killed in the brush, and as innocent men, women, and children, cry out for ANY sign of freedom; as the hearts of men grow cold with violence, and the wealthy in Northern Nigeria fuel such evil, one question can rise up out of the muck and mire: “GOD, WHERE ARE YOU?”God, where are you- final picture

It has already been shared, on this blog, that some people have said that God has left Africa. While the events going on in America–  Las Vegas, and the Church Shooting in Antioch, Tennessee— are nothing short of abhorrent and heart-rending, the amount of corruption and violence going on throughout all of Nigeria can easily lay one’s heart, low.

 

It is in times like these where one can truly ask the question, “Where is God?” and seemingly receive no answer. It reminds me of the story of Gideon, set during a time when Israel was experiencing equal corruption, violence and oppression.

In Judges 6, Israel is in the midst of being oppressed by the Midianites, after turning from the LORD (Judges 6:1). The Midianites had SO oppressed the country of Israel, that the Israelites resorted to hiding their food in the mountains and caves, because the Midianites would take all of their food and livestock (Judges 6:2-5). The Israelites became so oppressed that they cried out to the LORD for help (Judges 6:6). Sound familiar?

Israel’s sin introduced oppression– sin has a way of doing that in every country (Proverbs 14:31, 34). But Christ did not let His beloved, wayward nation of Israel fall to ruin. No; instead, He intervened.

“Then the angel of the Lord came and sat beneath the great tree at Ophrah, which belonged to Joash of the clan of Abiezer. Gideon son of Joash was threshing wheat at the bottom of a winepress to hide the grain from the Midianites. The angel of the Lord appeared to him and said, ‘Mighty hero, the Lord is with you!’

(Judges 6:11-12, NLT)

“The Angel of the LORD” is a commonly-used term in Old Testament scriptures, to speak about how the LORD Himself appeared on earth (Genesis 22; Exodus 3). God Himself was speaking to this man, Gideon!

But Gideon gives a reply that is less than chipper.

“‘Sir,’ Gideon replied, ‘if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us? And where are all the miracles our ancestors told us about? Didn’t they say, “The Lord brought us up out of Egypt”? But now the Lord has abandoned us and handed us over to the Midianites.'”
(Judges 6:13, NLT)

One can almost hear the anger, the hurt, and the pain in Gideon’s voice. “If the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us?! Where is this God who does miracles, who took us up out of a land of oppression?! We are oppressed. How could God be with us?”

I read these words, and can’t help but get teary-eyed. In the midst of what is continually happening in Nigeria, and what has so horrifically happened in Las Vegas– and, on a somewhat smaller scale, how Nabeel Qureshi just recently passed away of stage four stomach cancer— this is a question that has, without a doubt, crossed the hearts and minds of many deeply hurting people, recently.

But I notice that God does not fight with Gideon. Instead, God gives Gideon a shocking, scary proposition. He tells Gideon to go out, and fight those who are oppressing Israel:

“Then the Lord turned to him and said, ‘Go with the strength you have, and rescue Israel from the Midianites. I am sending you!’

‘But Lord,’ Gideon replied, ‘how can I rescue Israel? My clan is the weakest in the whole tribe of Manasseh, and I am the least in my entire family!’
(Judges 6:14-15, NLT)

God did not try to defend Himself against Gideon’s accusations that He was not there. Instead, God called upon this scared, “wimpy” Israelite, a man afraid of the darkness and violence all around him… and told him to fight against it.

But God does not ask Gideon to do this seemingly HUGE endeavor, by himself. Knowing Gideon’s fear, doubt, and heart full of pain, God says something very special to Gideon’s heart.

“The Lord said to him, ‘I will be with you. And you will destroy the Midianites as if you were fighting against one man.'”
(Judges 6:16, NLT)

Just like that. Jesus does not ask Gideon to do something about this darkness, without promising His Loving Presence to Gideon.

These were words that the very broken, doubt-filled heart of Gideon needed to hear.

And I think it is something that Las Vegas; Antioch, Tennessee; Charleston; and Nigeria need to hear, too. Something that you may need to hear, today.God can handle your questions

If there is anything that we can learn from this passage of scripture, it is this:

Sin will always end in oppression.
But God, even in our rebellion, will not leave those who have called on Jesus’ Name.
Not even now, in our darkest of hours. And this Loving, Faithful God can handle your questions– even the rawest, most painful, accusatory ones.

And perhaps, one of the biggest take-aways is this: Jesus does not want us to merely “curse the darkness”; He calls us to loving, compassionate action. To be “the light of the world, a city on a hill” (Matthew 5:14-16).

So, as corruption does not seem to stop in Nigeria– and as the whole world is hurting, once again, over the evil, oppressive sin of another– I pray that Jesus’ Love would shine out from us, lighting a world that is, more than ever, entrenched in darkness. That we, apart of the Lord’s army, would fight against sin and darkness– knowing that, because Jesus is with us, the victory is truly ours– no matter how the fight looks, right now.

“The angel of the Lord appeared to him and said, ‘Mighty hero, the Lord is with you!”
(Judges 6:12, NLT)

Let God’s words to Gideon be a comfort to our hearts, as well. My friends, “Mighty Heroes” in Christ, do not fear; the Lord is with you.

This blog post is in tribute to the three American special agents that passed away in warfare in the country of Niger, Africa. Our prayers are with their families.



Do you know Jesus?

Jesus, 2,000 years ago, achieved the ultimate victory against sin and death– by dying for the sins of mankind, and rising again on the third day!

We have real, true Victory in Christ! Learn more about this victory– and why Jesus came to win it, in the first place– here.



Pray with me…

“Dear Lord Jesus,

Thank You for dying on the cross for our sins! Thank You for giving us TRUE victory, that can only be found in You.

Dear Father God,

We come to You today, as it is day 72 of these people’s captivity… and day 1271 of the remaining 113, Chibok young women’s captivity.

Dear Jesus,

We just ask in Your Mighty and Precious Name that You would bring these members of Boko Haram to Justice. Please humble them and bring them to the ground, so that they would completely repent and submit to You.

Please bring these lecturers, the Chibok young women, and the rest of the captives of Boko Haram out of captivity, soon.

Dear Jesus, we also pray for those still reeling– and for those who will be grieving– the evil that has happened all across America, for the rest of their lives. Dear Jesus,

Please bring these people to You, and allow them to ask the hard questions; please be their Answer. Dear Jesus, please be near to them; please comfort them.

Dear Jesus,

Please continue to be with our first responders, police, and the police in Nigeria, as they all battle the evil, evil darkness we have all seen unfold. Please protect them, Lord Jesus; bring them to Yourself, so that they might live and work for Your Glory.

Dear Jesus,
Please also help and hold the families of the three special agents who were killed in Niger, as well. Please be their comfort and shade from the sun of violence.

The gates of hell will not prevail– thank You, Lord Jesus (Matthew 16:18). 

In Jesus’ Name we pray,

Amen.”

 

Praying for Vegas: Vengeance is the Lord’s

praying for las vegas

Many of you have already heard about the horrific shooting that occurred on Sunday night, in Las Vegas, Nevada.
For those of you who have not, on Sunday night, a man shot at a crowd of 22,000 people who were attending a Country Music Festival from his hotel window. 59 people and counting passed away, while over 520 were injured according to the New York Times.

This shooting is the deadliest in US history. But just a week ago, Brunette Chapel Church of Christ suffered a shooting in Antioch, Tennessee, caused by the gunman wanting to seek vengeance for the Charleston, South Carolina shooting that happened in 2015.

It reminds me of the passage found in Luke 21.

And when you hear of wars and insurrections, don’t panic. Yes, these things must take place first, but the end won’t follow immediately.” Then he added, “Nation will go to war against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be great earthquakes, and there will be famines and plagues in many lands, and there will be terrifying things and great miraculous signs from heaven.”
(Luke 21:9-11, NLT)

The fact that the Bible is clear about increasing violence– and violent people, as seen in 2 Timothy 3– does not make its reality any easier to bear.

The “dog-eat-dog,” “eye-for-an-eye” vengeful attitude of this world is not new; in fact, the idea of getting vengeance is as old as sin nature, itself.
In the Old Testament, this idea of justice is found in Exodus 21:23-27, where any injury is told to be recompensed by inflicting the same injury onto the criminal who committed the crime.

“But if there is any further injury, then you shall appoint as a penalty life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise.”
(Exodus 21:23-25, NASB)

Isn’t this how all of us think, in our sinful flesh?
And, if I may suggest it ever so carefully, it is the way we feel about any personal or social injustice we experience.

Especially ones like these– where the victims were innocent, and the perpetrators calculated their attacks in a cold-blooded, evil way. What are we to do, when our hearts become nothing short of smashed to pieces, and we are forced to live with the baggage that such trauma brings?

This is the state that mankind was in after the Fall of Genesis 3; and this is the state of affairs Jesus stepped into. Mankind dealing ruthlessly with one another, getting both mad and “even” with those who wronged them.

What did Jesus say to His Followers?
You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.”
(Matthew 5:38-42, NIV)

What is Jesus saying here? Is Jesus commanding His followers to be wimpy doormats, wearing contrived smiles as they are deeply hurt by others? Not so. The Amplified Version of the Bible gives a little more insight:

You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth [punishment that fits the offense].’ But I say to you, do not resist an evil person [who insults you or violates your rights]; but whoever slaps you on the right cheek, turn the other toward him also [simply ignore insignificant insults or trivial losses and do not bother to retaliate—maintain your dignity, your self-respect, your poise]. If anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your coat also [for the Lord repays the offender]. And whoever forces you to go one mile, go with him two. Give to him who asks of you, and do not turn away from him who wants to borrow from you.”
(Matthew 5:38-42, AMP)

Jesus was not talking about letting oneself stay in a dangerous, abusive situation, all in the name of Forgiveness and Peace. Jesus is commanding, as God Himself (as He is not saying “Thus saith the Lord,” but rather, “I say to you”), that His Disciples be ones that leave the vengeance and retaliation to Him.

Please listen. I am not at all trying to diminish the demonic, terrifying event that forever changed thousands of lives Sunday night. I am not trying to say that, because Jesus asks His followers to forgive and put vengeance in His Hands, that the church, school, club, and festival shootings in America, as well as the violence going on in Northern Nigeria, are somehow less heinous. These are not “small offenses.” That would be nothing short of insanely inconsiderate. The blood has spurted. The tears have flowed. And millions, even billions of people on this earth are going through all sorts of trauma that is not their fault.

But instead of trying to get even, I pray that we would look to the cross.
A place where the most innocent, perfect man’s blood, spurted (John 19:34).
Where cold-blooded, evil men, blinded by their own self-righteous pride, planned to kill this most innocent of men (Matthew 26:3-4).
Where the sins of you and I fell upon Him (Isaiah 53:5)–
And where Christ did not recant, or come down off the cross, like He could have (Matthew 26:53).

Instead, “Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.’ And they divided up his clothes by casting lots” (Luke 23:34, NIV).

I don’t think Jesus asks us to somehow lessen or justify the hurt we have gone through, in order to forgive and let go. That would not be true forgiveness.

Jesus looked EVERYTHING that was done to Him, in the eye, and chose, in obedience to His Heavenly Father, to forgive.

The pain and heartbreak is overwhelming right now. I can’t help but look at the blood being spilled in Northern Nigeria, where little girls are being used as sex slaves and human bombs, without being outraged… and I can’t look at the pictures of the carnage in Las Vegas, or Charleston, or Florida, or Antioch in Tennessee without crying, knowing that these people now must live with what they have experienced.

But, followers, vengeance is the LORD’s. We are not to retaliate, even against the most heinous abuses. We are to lay our arms down, and do our fighting in prayer– prayer for the victims, and, if I may be so bold, for the perpetrator, as well (Ephesians 6:12; Luke 6:28).

I get it. Everything within us wants the man who shot these people to burn in hell, as we do those who have perpetrated such evil and violence in Nigeria, for good reason.

But, I pray, in all of this, that we would choose to turn in our pain, not to violence, but to Jesus.

Because, only He, this Mighty, Compassionate God, can render true justice– and heal the wounds.

“Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord.”
(Romans 12:19, NIV)

“[Jesus] did not recant; [He] didn’t take it back.” — “Loved My Heart to Death, by Shane & Shane. Watch the music video here.

This blogpost is in tribute to every person who passed away in the Las Vegas Mass Shooting. Our prayers, love, and support are with them and all of their loved ones. To support the victims of this shooting, please donate to this GoFundMe Page (not at all affiliated or set up by ISAIAH 62 PRAYER MINISTRY.)



Do you know Jesus?

When talking about the wrath of God, many people today would say, “How could a Loving God dish out wrath on humankind?”
But, in light of such horrific events as this mass shooting, or, in the horrific event of Boko Haram kidnapping and abusing young women, it becomes clear that the wages of sin– even the smallest of sins– is death (Romans 6:23).

Jesus didn’t begrudgingly go to the cross, to pay for your sin. Hebrews 12:2 says that, “who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame…”.

But the joy was NOT hanging on that cross; we, those who are able to have a personal relationship with Jesus, God Himself, were that Joy.

Jesus didn’t have to die for your sins, and take on the just wrath of God the Father– but He did it, willingly. That is how much He Loves you.

Learn more about the One and Only True God, wrapped in Human flesh, who is crazy about you, here.



Please pray with me…

“Dear Lord Jesus,
Thank You for forgiving us. When we were against You, You were So Loving to us that You died the worst death possible, and took on the wrath of God that we deserved. Jesus, we pray over ourselves. Each and every heart that is hurting, to some to degree, as they have watched the violence, injustice, and sorrow unfold: Jesus, You see it all, every tear, every sigh, every scream. 
We pray over these people, who have lost their beloved friends, husbands, wives, lovers, sisters, brothers, mothers, and fathers. We pray over each survivor of this attack. Lord Jesus, please comfort these hearts with the fact that true Justice belongs to You– and that You are near to them, in this time (Psalm 34:18). 

Dear Jesus,
We want this man to pay, and pay eternally. We want those who have done such incredulous things to pay heartily for what they have done. Thank You, Jesus, for giving us the emotion of anger– but it becomes sin so quickly, Lord Jesus. Jesus, we know that You do not want us to retaliate, or let this anger become something sinful. Help us to take our pain to You, and to not let it burn over into sin, our own lives and the lives of others.

Lord Jesus, we pray against anyone who somehow wants to commit similar actions as these men have. We pray against the demonic powers and principalities in this world that drive such evil and violence in these last days. Dear Jesus, please help us to be faithful Peacemakers in a world that loves violence. Help us to be real, and to offer real, lasting Hope to others that can only be found in You.

Dear Jesus, we pray against the corruption going on in Nigeria. In Your Name, we pray that You would bring perpetrators to the ground, and humble them. May the perpetrators of all of these crimes come to You, Jesus. 

Please come back, soon.

In Jesus’ Name we pray,
Amen.”

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.

A New “Chibok Schoolgirls” Supherhero: The Power of Story

On September 6th, 2017, it was reported in an article by All Africa that Marvel created a new superhero. What makes this superhero so special? The female superhero is inspired by the Chibok girls!

Her name is Ngozi, and the comic she will be starring in as the first superhero in a real-life African country (Nigeria) will be called “Blessing In Disguise.” Her creator, a Nigerian-American bestselling writer named Nnedi Okorafor, stated that “it was an important decision” that she based the superhero on the Chibok girls. According to All Africa, Okorafor said, “They [the Chibok girls] were normal girls who suddenly had to deal with a huge change in their lives… and their story of perseverance is so powerful” (All Africa, “[Chibok girls]” mine).

Indeed, it is. To this date, 106 of the Chibok girls have either escaped or been rescued by the Nigerian government; 113 still remain. The story of the Chibok schoolgirls kidnapped sparked international outrage, and an outpouring of protest and prayer.

Now, almost three and a half years later, details about the freed Chibok girls’ experiences in bondage are coming out. One of the perhaps most shocking details is that the Chibok school girls kept diaries, that they passed around to each other to complete, in which they claim that their kidnapping was actually just a failed robbery. In these journals, stories of beatings, Koranic lessons, near-death experiences, and rampant abuse were told “in passable English and less-coherent Hausa,” according to Reuters. Though incredibly dark events transpired, the girls gave nicknames to their captors, keeping their spirits high.

Thinking about and praying for the Chibok girls, we are blessed beyond words to be seeing the fulfillment of God’s promises to free and restore these young women– and are amazed at how Jesus has, so compassionately, finally given the public world insight into what these girls went through.

This news– the news about the comic, and about the girls’ journals– highlights the beauty, and necessity, of telling our stories. It reminds one of those who went off and told their stories after Jesus had healed them– or of Nehemiah, in the Bible, and his chronicling of how God called him to restore the gates of Israel.

It is no secret that the Bible tells the stories of people; but only a few books of the Bible are told autobiographically, or as a memoir. At the start of the book, we find Nehemiah, a Cupbearer to the King of Persia, hearing about the destruction of Jerusalem’s gates, walls, and truly, people (Nehemiah 1). Nehemiah is so moved to sorrow over this news that he cries, fasts, and prays to God for days. After four months of being in prayer to God about what to do next, Nehemiah is able to speak with the King of Persia about his distress over Jerusalem and it’s walls– and, by the grace of God, is given permission to travel down to Jersualem. He is not only given permission to go down to Jerusalem to do this thing– he is given the letters from the King that are needed to supply him with resources, and the permission to pass through foreign countries to get to Judah!

As inspired and led by the Holy Spirit, Nehemiah told his story of how God used him to rebuild the walls– and restore Judah’s people (read the book of Nehemiah online to see just how.). More than this, the Holy Spirit gave the readers of this Old Testament book a biblical account of God’s love for Israel, passion for restoration, and complete faithfulness.

While the stories we tell of our own lives are not Holy Scripture by any means, they too can be testaments of Jesus’ work and movement in our lives… of how what once was dead can be made alive, and the beautiful lessons learned along the way.

As this comic is being made, and the lives of some of the Chibok girls are being restored, there are countless hundreds– maybe even thousands– in Northern Nigeria who still have no voice. Held captive by Boko Haram– and then, when physically free, held captive by the PTSD and trauma they have experienced– still have little to no voice to express the pain they have gone through. Children, even babies, continue to be used as bombs for Boko Haram; and women continue to escape captivity, only to find that they are pregnant with their captor’s child. Little boys are made into child soldiers; little girls are “married off,” suffering horrific sexual abuse. Even the freed Chibok girls are struggling with finding their voice; so much so that they are trying to kill themselves to protest what their words are afraid to convey.

BringBackOurGirls

 

They continue to be oppressed.
They continue to be silenced.

Friends, this is why this blog exists. To give voice to those in this insurgency who have no voice. Until they are able to tell their own stories, this blog will continue to tell them– with the prayer to Jesus that the stories and lives of these people intersect with His Story, the grandest story of them all: the Gospel.

The power of telling our own life stories– of how they intersect with Jesus and His transforming work in our lives– is great.

So, friends, as we read the Chibok girls’ stories as they spring up like flowers in the springtime, let us not forget to continue to tell the stories of those with no voice. For many, it is the difference between action and inaction— even life and death.

Tell your own story. Tell the stories of the voiceless. May they ring out as Francis J. Crosby wrote in the praise song, “Blessed Assurance”:

“This is my story; this is my song / praising my Savior, all the day long.”

For in Him, our true story is found. ❤


Do you know Jesus?

The entire Bible, from beginning to end, speaks of one main thing: The first and second coming of the Messiah, Jesus Christ; and the Gospel: How Jesus died for our sins.

Perhaps you have never heard this true story, before.
Perhaps you have heard it until your ears have bled and your eyes have rolled with disdain.
Maybe you have heard it happily, but are unsure on if it is true– and what that could mean for you.

Whoever you are, and wherever you are at in life, the Gospel is the grandest, most true story ever toldbut it is not just a story. At it’s core, the reason for why this story is so powerful is that it is God’s Story for mankind.

If you know the Maker of this story, your life will change forever. But if you don’t know the Maker of this Story, it will stay just that– a story.

Meet the Maker of this Story– and realize what He has done for you, so that You can know Him, personally– here.



Pray with me…

Dear Lord Jesus,
Thank You for the greatest story ever told– Your Word. 
Thank You for wanting to not only create us, but communicate with us; thank You for making a way for us to be with You, by dying on the cross for our sin.

Dear Jesus,
We thank You for the new comic coming out, having been inspired by the Chibok girls!!! Jesus, Your Word in Zephaniah 3:15-17 says, “The Lord has taken away the judgments against you; he has cleared away your enemies. The King of Israel, the Lord, is in your midst; you shall never again fear evil. On that day it shall be said to Jerusalem: ‘Fear not, O Zion; let not your hands grow weak. The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.‘” Jesus, thank You for doing this very thing in our midst, as 163 Chibok girls have escaped or been rescued!!! You have done amazing things, Jesus; we are filled with Joy (Psalm 126:3). 

But, dear Jesus,
There are still many, many people still missing. We pray that You would unleash Your power in their lives; we pray, most of all, that they would know You, personally. 
Please bring the Chibok girls– and so many others– back to their homes.
Please stop this evil that is Boko Haram, that is Jihad, and that ultimately, is our sinful nature mixed with satan’s schemes. 

Please heal those who are broken and wounded. Please bring Lugwa Sanda to You, dear Jesus, and show her that You are the only One worth living for.

Please avenge the helpless and destitute. 

But until You come back, Lord Jesus, please use us to be Your Hands, Your Feet, and Your heart to this dying, sick, broken, lost world. Please use us to heal, to restore, to bring justice, and to bring voices to the voiceless.

Give us Kingdom mindsets, that hallow and glorify Your Name.

Please come soon, Jesus.

In Jesus’ Name we pray,

Amen.”