“God is the God of all comfort… so even if you are vulnerable and get hurt, you are not alone in that. Jesus is the ultimate comforter, and He will break your fall.”
— A Very Wise Sister in the Lord
“God is the God of all comfort… so even if you are vulnerable and get hurt, you are not alone in that. Jesus is the ultimate comforter, and He will break your fall.”
— A Very Wise Sister in the Lord
Today, to be honest, I am hurting. I am in pain. I am angry. I am grieved.
“Indifference is no reaction at all.” Today, that quote stood out at church. Studying the story of Jonah, Jonah 1:1 says, “The word of the Lord came to Jonah son of Amittai: ‘Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.'” What was Jonah’s response? Anger.
“But Jonah ran away from the Lord and headed for Tarshish. He went down to Joppa, where he found a ship bound for that port. After paying the fare, he went aboard and sailed for Tarshish to flee from the Lord.”
(Jonah 1:3, NIV)
Jonah had a reason for his anger. The people of Nineveh were evil– the embodiment of evil, in fact– so much so that “it’s wickedness has come up before [God]” (Jonah 1:1). Jonah’s anger turned into something toxic, as the Pastor commented today (read Chapters 3-4 to see his anger take a turn for the worst). But it brought up the concept of being “real” with God. Of coming to Him with everything– even when “everything” includes screaming at him, and/or crying out in pain.
There are still 113 Chibok girls who are not free. While news reports could be wrong, many say that some of these 113 Chibok girls have said they do not want to come home. This hurts. To know that 113 young women may be so brainwashed, that freedom for
them looks worse than their bondage, breaks my heart. I pray that it isn’t true… that what keeps these young women from freedom and healing is not their own will.
But it could be true. And it is okay to come to Christ with this pain, anger, frustration, and longing for these remaining Chibok girls to become free.
In fact, in the Psalms, King David regularly cried out to Christ.
“Be merciful to me, Lord, for I am in distress; my eyes grow weak with sorrow, my soul and body with grief. 10 My life is consumed by anguish and my years by groaning; my strength fails because of my affliction, and my bones grow weak. 11 Because of all my enemies, I am the utter contempt of my neighbors and an object of dread to my closest friends— those who see me on the street flee from me. 12 I am forgotten as though I were dead; I have become like broken pottery. 13 For I hear many whispering, ‘Terror on every side!’ They conspire against me and plot to take my life.”
(Psalm 31:9-13, NIV)
Not too many have felt what King David felt. Theologians and Bible Readers alike speculate that this Psalm was written as David was narrowly escaping assassination attempts by Israel’s king at the time, King Saul (source). “In distress,” King David was overcome by sorrow and grief, and did not hold back in crying out to Christ about his situation. But he did not stay there.
While crying out to Jesus about his struggles and anguish, King David drew close to Christ; and, it was in this honest encounter recorded in Psalm 31, that King David’s heart, mind, and perspective were transformed by the Lord. This can be seen in verse 14, as King David’s tone changes.
“But I trust in you, Lord; I say, ‘You are my God.’ …Praise be to the Lord, for he showed me the wonders of his love when I was in a city under siege. 22 In my alarm I said, ‘I am cut off from your sight!’
Yet you heard my cry for mercy when I called to you for help. 23 Love the Lord, all his faithful people! The Lord preserves those who are true to him, but the proud he pays back in full. 24 Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord.”
(Psalm 31:14, 21-24)
It is obvious that as King David ran to Christ for help, he found it. While we do not know if his circumstances really changed for the better, this is the Hope for all people who put their trust in Jesus; He will never let them be put to shame for seeking Him.
“There may be pain in the night, but joy comes in the morning” (Psalm 30:5, NIV). And, when it comes down to the honest truth, even when that joy doesn’t come, the Comfort and Joy of coming to Christ in the pain is our Strength.
113 Chibok girls still remain in bondage. This horrific Truth is cause for much pain, but approaching Christ in this pain makes all the difference. In our pain, may He hear our prayers, and may these precious young women come home soon.
This post is dedicated to the 113 young Chibok girls who are still not freed, as well as those in Mosul, which is modern-day Nineveh.
Do you know Jesus?
“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted
and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”
(Psalm 34:18, NIV)
Some people may see Jesus as some distant, feeling-less deity– yet, as one Pastor has said, He is anything but.
– He can be grieved. Jesus said, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones God’s messengers! How often I have wanted to gather your children together as a hen protects her chicks beneath her wings, but you wouldn’t let me.” (Matthew 23:37, NIV)
– He wept. “Jesus wept.” (John 11:35, NIV)
– He sings with Joy. “For the LORD your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With his love, he will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.” (Zephaniah 3:17, NIV)
– He cares deeply for every detail of the Believer’s life. “The Lord directs the steps of the godly. He delights in every detail of their lives” (Psalm 37:23, NIV)
Jesus is not some distant deity, or a made-up man. He is real, alive, and He deeply loves you. Learn more about who Jesus is, and why He came to earth, here.
– For the remaining 113 Chibok girls who are still in bondage. Please pray that what has been said about the remaining girls is not true.
– Please pray that if the news reports are true, that Jesus would reach and save these young women.
– Please pray for those in Mosul, Iraq. Iraqi soldiers are trying to push out ISIS. Please pray that they would have Christ’s favor, and that members of ISIS would be defeated– so that they can come to know Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.
– Please pray for Annalee, the writer of ISAIAH 62 PRAYER MINISTRY. Pray that I would continue to be effective in this ministry, by the power of the Holy Spirit– and that I would be faithful in my service to the Lord, even when it hurts. Thank you.
Thank you for your prayers!!!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
“Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him.
Even so, I will defend my own ways before Him.”
(Job 13:15, NKJV) Continue reading
As of today, January 21st, 18 days have passed since the town of Baga, Nigeria was razed, where 2,000 of it’s innocent men, women, and children were mercilessly massacred. As Boko Haram’s bloodiest raid to date, most of its victims were women, children, and the elderly who could not escape the terrorists’ rocket-propelled grenades and assault rifles. As people ran, swam, and hid for their lives, thousands upon thousands drowned in nearby Lake Chad, where the body count was so high that soldiers stopped counting.
Though this event did not occur in Nigeria, Christ led me to write about it. The story needs to be told; these words need to be heard.
On December 16th, 2014, seven men from the Taliban attacked a military-run school in Peshawar, Pakistan, killing 141 people– 132 of them children and adolescents.
Bullets were sprayed indiscriminately, covering the classrooms where children had come to simply learn.
How can one even begin to describe the shock, the outrage, the horror of it all?
Today, as the Pakistani government tries to pick up the pieces of this heartbreaking tragedy, hundreds of parents are putting their young loved ones in caskets, experiencing pain they never thought they’d have to experience: the pain of outliving their own children.
What can one do in the face of such a horrible event? Continue reading
The statistics are heartbreaking. According to estimations made by the Council on Foreign Relations, approximately 1 million Nigerians have been displaced and robbed of their livelihoods by the terrorist group Boko Haram since November 2013. Not only have millions lost their businesses, farms, and homes, but over 10,000 men, women, and children have lost their lives– callously targeted and slaughtered by the Boko Haram (BH)– because they have refused to take part in their barbaric, demonically evil actions of violence. These statistics have given cause for the BH’s violence to be compared to ISIS’s violence, with only approximately 400 more violent deaths caused by ISIS in the past year.
When reading such statistics, it can be easy to stop there, shocked by the numbers and disturbed by the masses of people lost. It can be easy to study graphs and shake our heads, disconcerted by the sharp increases in violence seen starting in 2014. In the midst of these numbers, though, we must not forget that Christ is a God who knows every one of the people affected, hurt, and killed by the Boko Haram; these people are not just statistics to our Lord, but are fully and intimately known by their Creator. Every person counted in these statistics have names, stories, and loved ones; for every person killed, there are people mourning their loss. Our God is near to every soul robbed of it’s joy, every injured body, and every grieving heart; not only this, but countless men and women who put their trust in our Lord now reside with Him in heaven, emptied of all their temporal pain, full of the eternal joy of Christ.
In sight of eternity, there are many prayers said for those mourning and in loss, while many prayers are being prayed against the members of the Boko Haram. Many have lashed out at the members of the Boko Haram (and ISIS, for their violent acts have caused even more pain), breathing out curses and prayers for their destruction. Yet, it’s important to ask what Christ would do in such a situation– or, to look back on what He did do, as He looked out at the masses cheering for His death. His response was one of pure love.
“When they came to the place called The Skull, there they crucified Him and the criminals, one on the right and the other on the left. But Jesus was saying, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” And they cast lots, dividing up His garments among themselves.”
(Luke 23:33-34, NASB)
Our Lord did not need to die for us, nor was He truly ever at our mercy. No; instead, Christ gave himself willingly (as seen in John 10:17-18), knowing that only by His wounds all of us would be healed. He looked at those who zealously pounded nails into His hands and feet with nothing but love and forgiveness, asking the Father to forgive all of us, “for [we] did not know what [we were] doing” (John 10:18, “we” and “we were” mine). I say “we” because Jesus also died for all people today, for us; Jesus died for every sin (of every sinner) ever committed (2 Corinthians 5:14). This solid truth means that every bit of evil we’ve ever committed against another– even the sins we commit against ourselves– have nailed Jesus to that tree. The simple, hard to swallow truth is this: Every sin, “big” and “small,” “justified” and “unfair” alike, has not only harmed and killed ourselves or those whom we’ve sinned against, but have actually killed Christ. This truth changes those who believe it at the very core of themselves, forever.
Searching God’s word, those who are changed by Christ’s love find that they must take up Christ’s way of interacting with those who persecute them: “If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them” (Luke 6:29, NIV). This philosophy seems to make no human sense; it speaks of giving our all to the Love of Christ, allowing others to treat us harshly while we respond with going the extra mile to Love our enemy. Not only does it make no human sense, it is not humanly possible without the Lord Himself living in us, as Jesus stated in John 15: “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5, NIV).
Yet, with Christ, all things, including truly Loving our enemy, are possible (Matthew 19:26). With Christ, we have the ability to look at statistics, view the horrendous damage, and respond with humble, loving prayers for our enemies, knowing that Christ died for them too– and we are no better than them, but have also hurt and killed Christ ourselves. For “they do not know what they do” to the souls, hearts, minds, and bodies of those whom they harm and murder; they have not yet discovered that they are only hurting Christ. We must remember that we don’t truly fight against flesh and blood, but “against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:12, NIV). In short, we are not merely fighting against the members of the Boko Haram; we are fighting against the evil that fuels their violent acts, a spiritual element that these men have no idea they are being devoured by themselves. These men must come to the end of themselves, only so that Christ can welcome them with His nail-scarred hands opened wide, something they need as much as their victims do.
In light of this, please pray that the members of the Boko Haram would see and know the Love of Christ– perhaps, even through those men and women whom they are persecuting. Pray for Abubukar Shekau, the leader of the Boko Haram, that He would see and understand that He is truly killing Christ; pray His heart would be softened and that He’d hear the gospel in a whole new way, and that He’d know Christ as His Lord and Savior. Pray for those in captivity, that Christ would use them to bring the love and gospel of Christ to those who need Him. Pray for the thousands upon thousands of men and women whom Christ is near to, that they’d feel His comfort and near Presence.
Because truly, these men need to hear the message of Christ just as much as their victims do.
“For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died.” (2 Corinthians 5:14)
A pastor once told my Young Adult’s group something along the lines of the sentiment “You can only come to know who you truly are when you come to know who Christ truly is.”
At the time, it was exactly what I needed to hear. I have seemingly always known Christ as my Lord and Savior, having been raised in the church, but I had made God out to be a God who was angry with me, a God who either was pleased because “I did good” or was displeased because I disobeyed or “didn’t do enough.” Due to this, I suffered from some seriously low self-esteem, OCD-like attitudes, and being overly critical of myself and others. Because I didn’t see God for who He’s shown Himself to be through His Word– that is, as the God who is quick to forgive, slow to anger, and abounding in grace and mercy, as stated in Exodus 34:6— I beat myself up for things that the Lord only wanted me to accept His grace and goodness in.
Needless to say, how a person views God affects every aspect of how they view themselves, other people, and the world around them. A distorted, non-biblical view of God can have huge consequences. Reading about the recent attack by female suicide bombers in Maiduguri, Nigeria, this could be no closer to the truth. On November 25th, 2014, 2 young women entered a busy marketplace in Maiduguri, screaming, and detonated their bombs, killing 30 people while injuring countless others. This attack is not an isolated incident; at least 2 other attacks of the same kind, involving female suicide bombers, have occurred since the 267 young girls from Chibok, Nigeria, were kidnapped in April. And with reports that three teenage girls from Colorado, USA tried traveling to Turkey to join ISIS, the concept of a self-identity in sight of God’s identity is an ever more pressing idea that needs to be brought to light.
What could make young, teenage girls want to join such horrific terrorist groups such as Boko Haram and ISIS? Many experts have stated that these groups portray themselves as a brotherhood fighting a holy war, creating a false sense of family; the idea of belonging to something greater can be, and has been, alluring for many young girls who feel like outcasts in their own communities. Looking for Truth, for love, for acceptance, and for identity, these young girls fall into the trap that the enemy uses frequently: trying to find belonging in the world outside of Christ. Because many of these young girls are Muslim to begin with, it can be all too easy for them join extremist groups that offer a completely fake version of the truth, love, and acceptance that they– and truly, all of us– are craving.
Jesus didn’t claim to only point to the way, the truth, or the life; He claimed to BE the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Only Jesus can offer us true identity in Him; how He sees us is THE most important thing in the universe. The apostle Paul declares this truth in Galatians:
“Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.”
—Galatians 1:10, NIV
When Christ is the one whom we’re living for, we know who we are in Him, stated in 1 Peter: “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light” (1 Peter 2:9, NIV). As people, we can try to form our own identity, but there can never be a true sense of self, of being loved, and of acceptance from God until we accept Christ Jesus as our Personal Lord and Savior.
Because of this, my heart goes out to these young men and women being told by the enemy that ISIS and Boko Haram offer something only Christ can offer. It’s heart-wrenching to know that what all these people want can be simply found in Christ, but that He may be the last person and place they come to for it. It’s sickening to know that what they think is a hug is actually a punch in the gut, a slap in the face; that what many think will bring them life is the very thing that will bring them death. This applies to more than Muslim girls trying to join ISIS or the Boko Haram; this same concept applies to any and all people trying to find belonging outside of Christ.
When the Lord first put the Chibok girls upon my heart, He showed me through Isaiah 62:4 that He saw them as “Hephzibah”– the ones He delights in. Though we may forget their plight, He never will; though they may be shrouded in the darkness of black hijabs, forced to be married off, being harmed and injured in every evil way imaginable, they are not what they are going through, but are dearly loved by God. These men and women in the Boko Haram are just as loved as those in captivity. Coming to know Christ, these men and women can be transformed from hateful, death-filled supporters of Boko Haram and ISIS to beloved children of God, walking in Love, instead of the heartless, destructive paths they’ve been walking in (Ephesians 5:1-2). If only these young women knew Christ, they’d know that they are delighted in and very loved– not because of anything they’ve done, but because of what Christ did.
Pray with me today that the young women and girls who’ve voluntarily joined ISIS and Boko Haram (BH) would see ISIS and the BH for the evil, demonic power they really are. Pray that these people would come to see who God truly is, through the lens of Christ. Pray that they’d see the darkness separated from the light as they come to know Christ as their personal Lord and Savior.
Pray for our sisters in captivity, that the Lord would use them to bring others to Him by the power of His Holy Spirit; pray also that the Lord would soften the hearts of the Boko Haram leaders, and would place in them hearts of flesh as they come to know His great love– for it’s His great kindness alone that brings others to repentance (Romans 2:4, NIV). Pray not only for the girls seeking ISIS and BH as a place of belonging, but pray for all of those who are searching for meaning and belonging outside of Christ. Ask the Lord to put people on your heart to pray for and reach out to, to show the love and acceptance of Christ to. The world is looking for identity, and it is only truly found in Jesus’ arms.
Because in Christ Jesus, we are all named Hephzibah: Delighted In. Let us rejoice in this today, praying that more and more all over the Earth would take on this identity as well.
PRAISE/ PRAYER REPORT:
It’s been reported that the 219 girls who are still missing have been married off. Pray that these girls would be found and brought back home, no matter what the headlines say! The Lord is working here.
It’s also been reported that as of November 16th, 2014, vigilante groups working alongside the Nigerian military have taken back the town of Chibok! Read more about it here. Continue to pray for the Nigerian military, the vigilante groups, and every man, woman and child involved in this warfare. Our prayers are being heard!
“The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” (James 5:16b, NIV)
On November 13th, 2014, the town of Chibok, Nigeria– the very same town these 219 kidnapped girls call their home– came under attack and was seized by the Boko Haram. What seems to be a very dire, hopeless situation, I challenge with a somewhat audacious hope, knowing that the Lord our God is a God who 1) is completely unfathomable in all His ways, and 2) is a God who means what He says, and says what He means.
All throughout scripture, it’s been shown that those in captivity are not forgotten by the Lord, but are actually very near and dear to His heart. Though we may forget them, He does not, and is mighty to act on their behalf.
When the Israelites were brought into exile by the Babylonians in 607-586 B.C., the entire world saw Israel and looked upon it as “Desolate” (Isaiah 62:4). The whole of Israel seemed to be abandoned by God, and was put to shame in the eyes of other nations. Despite all of this, the Lord was still at work, and was mighty to release Israel from their captivity in His timing, by His choosing. Though the circumstances differ between the Israelites and those in Northern Nigeria (Israel’s captivity was punishment for their sin; I would never even dare to say that the reasoning for Chibok’s captivity is the same), the same profound truth remains: The moments Jesus seemed to be most absent were the moments Jesus was the most near.
I understand that this information does not, and cannot, even begin to fully or truly comfort those who have lost all they know.
I understand that this information cannot dress every wound or heal the hearts affected by such horrible circumstances.
But I also understand that the Lord is with the men, women, and children of every town taken over by the Boko Haram, and that nothing– truly, nothing— can shock our God when it comes to the Boko Haram’s activities.
We cannot forget that though the Boko Haram has seemingly taken over various towns all over Northern Nigeria, these villages and towns are ultimately in the Mighty Hands of our Lord Jesus Christ. Not only are they in His hands, they are engraved in this hands.
“But Zion said, ‘The Lord has forsaken me, the Lord has forgotten me.’
Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before me.”
— Isaiah 49:14-16, NIV
Because these people and their lives are in the Sovereign hands of the Lord, hope can remain unshaken, and promises can continue to be looked forward to.
In light of all this, pray for all of our hurting brothers and sisters in Chibok. Pray that they would cry out to Christ and feel His overwhelming peace and nearness during such violent times, as is stated in Philippians:
“…The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
—Philippians 4:5b-7, ESV
Pray that as this peace would indeed guard their hearts and minds infallibly as they continue to trust in Him. Pray for those who don’t know Christ in these captured towns, that the Holy Spirit would move in tremendous ways in and through His people to preach the Gospel, so that “in Christ Jesus [they] who once were far away [would be] brought near by the blood of Christ” (Ephesians 2:13, NIV). This time is a time of tremendous, heart-crushing pain and trial, but it is also a huge opportunity to love people in their most broken states, showing them the love of Christ and the truth of the Gospel in the process– pray that many opportunities would come to share Jesus with others– and that words “may be given [Christians in Nigeria] so that [they] will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel” (Ephesians 6:19, NIV). Pray that the Lord’s hand would be upon these girls, and that they’d be protected against any and all harm that is being perpetrated by these terrorists. Pray that the young girls who know Christ would be used by Him to bring their kidnappers to faith in Christ Jesus.
Outside of these young men, women and children being taken care of and knowing the Lord, pray for the Nigerian military and the vigilante groups coming against the Boko Haram as they try to take back these cities; pray that they’d know Jesus, and that as they know Him, their morale would be strengthened to fight this fight with bravery, honor, and compassion for those who’ve been kidnapped. Pray that the corrupt, fickle nature of the Nigerian government would be brought to justice, and that as it’s brought to justice, these girls would be found alive and unharmed. Pray for justice for these broken families; that the Lord’s hand would move swiftly and powerfully on their behalf to take back their captured communities.
In a place where there has been so much death, so much pain, and so much hopelessness, pray that the churches in Northern Nigeria would be fortified, upheld and strengthened by the Lord.
Pray that these young girls would know that they matter– that they haven’t been forgotten by the Lord, that salvation is near, and that their heartbreaking circumstances are held (and engraved!) in the Lord’s hands.
Because truly, no matter what happens, there is no better a place to be.