Viewing the Statistics: Praying for our Enemies

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)

“Hephzibah”: In Search of True Identity

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.

Freedom for Chibok: In the Lord’s Hands

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.

Quick Post: Rest.

Tonight, looking at news updates on the ceasefire deal announced Friday (and the violence that has continued on since then, jeopardizing the deal), I became tired. Weary. Frustrated. Skeptical. Worried.

What are we, as believers in the words and promises of God, to do when everything around us seems to ask why God is so fickle?– or, on a more sickening, cynical, unbelieving level, why God is so cruel?

I’ve had a longer, more polished post drawn up for a few days now, and I’ve been struggling with finishing it. It’s called, “6 Months Later: A Reason For Hope.”

I know what my reason for hope is. I know where– and who in– my hope is found. Yet, the words don’t seem to come. And the thoughts of worry, of doubt, of inadequacy, of fear, linger and creep in, making my heart flutter, haunting the words I mean to say and trying to silence me.

But you know what? I refuse to let the enemy kill my joy. I refuse to let him take over what should be a blessing and an encouragement, making it stressful and tiring.
Tonight, in the midst of the utter chaos that surrounds these abducted girls,
In the midst of the pain that comes with knowing that these beautiful young girls and women need to spend one more night away from their families and loved ones,
In the midst of the weariness that comes with not knowing when this pain will end,

I will trust in the Lord (Proverbs 3:5-6).
I will go into His temple. I will meditate on His love for me (Psalm 48:9).
I will meditate on how he’s lifted me out of every miry pit I’ve ever fallen into– or dug myself, inviting in (Psalm 40:2).
I will think on these things. And, in the midst of such love, such peace, such grace,
I will believe with all my heart that He is never slow or careless when it comes to fulfilling His promises (2 Peter 3:9).
I will praise my God, whose love is unfailing (Psalm 36:5-7; Psalm 56:9-13).

Lord Jesus, I praise you for releasing the 50 some girls that have escaped from the Boko Haram so far.
I praise you for strengthening them according to your steadfast love.
I love you and thank you for providing these girls with people to share their stories with. For providing them with just enough food and water to survive. With just enough strength and determination to reach a refuge. For always being their refuge, even among their pain and suffering.
I thank you for choosing me. For choosing me, for choosing this young child, to hear your heart for these girls. To hear your voice speak these bold promises, full of love and redemption and hope, over such a hopeless situation. Forgive me for being unfaithful in doing what you’ve called me to do– to devote myself to prayer for these girls, and to proclaim these promises to others as well, asking them to join in prayer and support for the abducted girls, for Norther Nigeria, and for Nigeria as a whole. I praise you for being faithful even when I am unfaithful. And I thank you for keeping your watchful eye on these beautiful girls, showing them such favor as to start negotiations, strengthening the Nigerian army to fight against the darkness that holds them, and to cause your people to cry out to you for them.

You are strong and mighty to save.

The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.” (Zephaniah 3:17, NIV)

Your promises for these girls ring true, everywhere in your word.

“Be sure of this: The wicked will not go unpunished, but those who are righteous will go free.” (Proverbs 11:21, NIV)

I can rely upon Your Word and Your Promises.

“Your word, LORD, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens.” (Psalm 119:89, NIV)
“Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.” (Matthew 24:35, NIV)

Tonight, I will rest in the fact that He is God. Period.
That, no matter what, He is good. Loving. Beautiful.
That redemption and salvation are coming, and it will be glorious.

Tonight, let’s praise, hope, and rest in our God, praying that He grants us the blessing of seeing these girls free soon. Pray for their continued protection; pray for their favor under the rule of the Boko Haram. Continue to pray for the BH leader, Shekau: that He would believe in Christ Jesus and know Christ’s peace that surpasses every understanding there is. Pray that the people of Nigeria would run back to the Lord. That they’d find rest in the shadow of His wings as they trust in Him as their Lord and Savior (Psalm 56:13).

“Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.” (Colossians 4:2, NIV)

“You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.” (Isaiah 26:3, ESV)

 

A Quick Update

Hey, beloved people! Thanks for reading through this blog and continually having those in Nigeria on your hearts and minds in prayer to our Lord.

At this point, I have no new updates about Daphne’s medical situation (for those reading for the first time, Daphne’s situation is unrelated to that of the Chibok Girls, but it is VERY dear to my heart, and so I asked for prayer. For information on who Daphne is and her story, read here). In prayer, the Lord brought to mind her ex-boyfriend, whom I’ll call W, as well as her mother, father, sister, and close friends, all of whom, to my knowledge, do not know Christ. Please be praying that the Lord would use this horrible pit to soften their hearts to His gospel, convict them of their sin, and bring them to Him– whether for the first time, or to know Him once again– in all, to know the wonderful reconciliation of accepting Christ as their Personal Lord and Savior. Pray that as they accept the Lord into their hearts, He’d give them such peace, such revelation, and such comfort and transformation that it would completely change their attitudes towards the things of Him, themselves, each other, and this world. Pray they’d experience His nearness. That they would see His sweetness, His raw, “I’m not leaving you here” love, His kindness, His mercy– and that it’d bring them to Himself. Pray that He’d work in and through them to proclaim His praise. For, no matter who they’ve been, “…God’s kindness is intended to lead [people] to repentance[.]” (Romans 2:4b). 


Bracelet-making update: Along side using alphabet beads to spell out the messages of these bracelets– those being “Hephzibah: My Delight is in Her,” “Isaiah 62,” and “Bring Back His Girls” or “BBHS” — I’ve started to use small, ceramic square beads to write out the messages as well. 

 As promised on the Bracelet page of this blog, I’m posting many pictures of them below. Though these bracelets are ultimately not about fashion or style, the ceramic bracelets look more grown up, have allowed me to paint them more uniquely and thoughtfully, and allow me to say more on each of them.

The Lord has completely blessed me with being able to thoughtfully create such beautiful things for the people of Nigeria. Please be praying that as I continue in doing the Lord’s work, He’d open up doors to those in my community and church to help me create, as well as share, the bracelets with the world around us. Also pray that I’d have much guidance, clarity, and confirmation on what the Lord’s will is concerning how I proceed in this. Praise the Lord!! He’s doing such amazing things, guys. I’m so excited for what He’s going to do next. 🙂 

Pictured above: The front of one bracelet. Text reading "Hephzibah 267," with a bird/dove flying in flight underneath.

Pictured above: The front of one bracelet. Text reading “Hephzibah 267,” with a bird/dove in flight underneath.

Pictured: The front of one red bracelet. Text reads, "Isaiah 62 | Bring Back His Girls"

Pictured: The front of one red bracelet. Text reads, “Isaiah 62 | Bring Back His Girls.”

The front of one bracelet. Text reads, "Isaiah 62 | Bring Back His Girls."

The front of one more simple, boyish bracelet. Text reads, “Isaiah 62 | Bring Back His Girls.”

Pictured: The front side of one bracelet. Text reads, "Hephzibah: My Delight is in Her".

Pictured: The front side of one bracelet. Text reads, “Hephzibah: My Delight is in Her”.

Bless the Lord for all of you. I’m continuing to pray for all of you, those I’ve met and those who’ve followed online… may the Lord bring you to know Him through His kindness and mercy and through the knowledge of His son, Christ Jesus. May you deeply desire to know Him through His Word, and may you be rooted in it as you gain all spiritual wisdom and insight into what He wants for your life. Be so blessed. I love you all.

The Women of Gwoza, Nigeria’s Youth, and the Nigerian Military: Fighting Against the Darkness

We, as humans, were never created to experience death. Yet, in the town of Gwoza, lives have been ripped apart by it.
Darkness seems to reign. Hands hang limp.  Blood runs heavily. People are both literally and metaphorically crushed.

After being asked one question, “Will you convert to Islam?” Men and children are beheaded, slashed, and shot down where they stand, sit, and lay. Their wives, mothers, and sisters– those beautiful young girls and women, loved and cared-for members of their households and communities, are violently raped, beaten, and gagged after being “married” to their husbands’ murderers. Then, bound, shrouded in the darkness of black hijabs, they are told by their captors and rapists, “You are Muslim now.”
The blood flows. The tears dry them out. The bruises become dark; the bones wither. Their spirits sink as low as the mass graves of their loved ones. In days, their lives become full of nothing but bitter heartbreak and unimaginable horror.
But the Lord knows and loves these people passionately. Many of these forsaken, beaten, bound, “converted” women, if not most to all of them, know Christ as their Personal Lord and Savior, and according to Voice of the Persecuted, over 300,000 Christians were displaced from the predominantly Christian Gwoza and it’s surrounding states as the Boko Haram infiltrated the community.
Because of this fact, there is still hope.  A God who sees, knows, and loves His people, who is “close to the brokenhearted [and]… rescues those whose spirits are crushed,” affirms and assures the hope of His people that He will be near to them during this time. Not only this, but they have the promise that “all things will work together for [their] good,” according to Romans 8:28. Because our God is a good, sovereign, loving God, their faith and rest is in His power– His complete willingness– to REDEEM the lives of these broken, crushed women.

Because our Lord is a God of unbelievable redemption and amazing second chances, He not only will comfort and redeem these people; He can use them to bring others to Himself. Hallelujah! How great is our God!

To be quite honest, I don’t know what to write or how to in the face of these tragedies. How can one do justice to telling the truth of the horrendous acts being committed? How can one capture the voice of a nation dying under the dark powers so disgustingly at work within it?

In conclusion, be strong in the Lord [be empowered through your union with Him]; draw your strength from Him [that strength which His boundless might provides]… For we are not wrestling with flesh and blood [contending only with physical opponents], but against the despotisms, against the powers, against [the master spirits who are] the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spirit forces of wickedness in the heavenly (supernatural) sphere. Therefore put on God’s complete armor, that you may be able to resist and stand your ground on the evil day [of danger], and, having done all [the crisis demands], to stand [firmly in your place].” (Ephesians 6:10a, 11-13, AMP)

The truth is, no one can fight against this; it must be Christ. I cannot, and do not, fight this war on my own. Whether I am writing on this blog, creating prayer bracelets, or telling others of what is going on in this country, I, in my own strength, am insufficient to fight against the powers of darkness that exist so heavily around us. And as I hear about civilian youths fighting alongside the Nigerian military against BH, the Nigerian military lacking in weapons, training, and morale, and these dear men and women dying for their faith all over the world as BH, Hamas and ISIS persecute Christians, the truth becomes more and more clear: Contrary to the world’s popular belief concerning the Boko Haram, Hamas, and ISIS, we are not fighting a war against mere flesh and blood. As the passage in Ephesians proclaims above, we are fighting a spiritual battle against an enemy that is, in fact, deceiving and destroying not only those persecuted, pillaged, and lost by Islamic terrorism, but the human terrorists so vehemently hated themselves. Therefore, we must rely upon the power of the Holy Spirit to move in, through, and around us to defeat the enemy who is fighting so hard to destroy. We cannot fight only with mere weapons, no matter the lack or the abundance of them. Ultimately, we must fight with prayer, with fasting as the Lord calls us (Matthew 17:21), and with spreading the word to raise awareness– awareness not only of the plight of these people, but of the enemy’s spiritual schemes and attacks. As Ephesians 6:18 states, we must “keep alert and watch with strong purpose and perseverance, interceding in behalf of all the saints (God’s consecrated people)” (Ephesians 6:18, AMP).

With all of this in mind, let us pray for our beaten and wearied kidnapped sisters in the BH’s camps, as well as in the town of Gwoza. Let us pray that the Holy Spirit would move powerfully within the towns of Gwoza, as well as the surrounding towns within the Borno, Yobe, and Adamawa states of Nigeria. Pray that the God of all comfort would speak to these women in their distress, keep them under the shadow of His wings, and would work in and through these women and these situations all over the world to bring members of Boko Haram– as well as the members of ISIS and Hamas in the Middle East and Syria– into a personal relationship with Himself. May He create in them such rest, such strength, and such faith in Him, that they’d proclaim His name boldly, illuminating such darkness with His perfect light.

Pray that the youths fighting against the BH with the Nigerian military would come to know Christ as well, and that by His guidance and strength alone, they’d continue to fight against the BH with boldness. Pray for the Nigerian soldiers; that though they may be lacking weapons, the Lord would show Himself strong through them in defeating the BH according to His will– and that no matter if they have proper weapons or training, their strength and resolution would be found in Him alone as they call upon His name. It is only by the power of Jesus that these dark forces can be extinguished. 

We were never meant to experience death, but with Christ, death is already defeated. We must be aware of the enemy’s schemes, putting on the full of armor of God, completely confident in the fact that He has already won the war against sin and death, and that His salvation will soon be seen in the lives of these people! Please continue in faithful prayer and solidarity with our fellow brothers and sisters around the world facing the darkness.

The People of Northern Nigeria: Fed, Clothed, Housed, Healed

Home.  I reflect on how many times I’ve longed for it in the past. As a child on her first day of school, scared; as a tired traveler, after a long road trip; as a distressed teenager, needing to be alone with the Lord in my room. I think of how many times I’ve come to my bed, my kitchen table, my sofa, to find rest and sustenance– both spiritually (bible studies, family prayer times, listening to the radio) and physically.  It is a word that conjures up images of comfort, safety, family, and even bonds to one’s personal identity.

Home is a place that houses the material possessions we hold dear– more than that, it holds our precious memories. Home is supposed to be a place where we can be our absolute selves, a place where we can “tell it like it is.” The thought and feeling of having no where to go at the end of the day can fill a person with a sense of worthlessness; It’s the thought that says, “I’ve got no where to go– nowhere that wants me, nowhere I belong.” To be violently pushed out of your earthly refuge can weaken one’s spirit in a way not much else can.

According to reports made by many different news centers in Nigeria, over 650,000 people have been displaced due to Boko Haram’s attacks on their villages, government institutions, and homes since last May. In particular, the town of Buni Yadi in Yobe State and the towns of Gwoza and Damboa in Borno State were seized by the Boko Haram in early August, after the Boko Haram were pushed out of their militant headquarters in Maiduguri. These raids have caused close to 6,000 fleeing men, women and children to be displaced into the surrounding states and capitols (see sources at bottom of article).

To respond to this surge of haggard, hurt, desperate individuals in their states and towns, the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) has reported that emergency relief has been provided in the surrounding towns of Madagali and Mubi, with emergency relief attempting to be given to those displaced in the mountains surrounding Borno and Yobe state. Although attempts have been made, the Boko Haram’s violent and consistent activity in those areas make it almost impossible to provide any food, water, or relief for the people in brush and mountain regions. These people have gone over a week without food or water at a time, wasting away, terrified by the men waiting for them to leave their hiding places.

Elsewhere, Chibok girls who have fled the Boko Haram have reported being raped on their journeys back home, by men who’ve decided to ruthlessly take advantage of their desperate, vulnerable situations. As the UN has worked with these girls to reintegrate them into society, care packages called “Dignity Kits” have been provided to supply the girls’ basic needs, such as water and sanitary napkins. Additionally, health screenings have been set up have been set up to prepare for any more returning girls.

What is the reoccurring theme here? That men, women, and children who’ve called these places home have had their lives, their dignity, and their very basic necessities ripped away from them in petty acts of violence, both sexual and physical. What happens when every earthly image of comfort and belonging you have becomes suddenly non-existent? Suddenly forbidden to abide in?

The believer is reminded, in such a horrific time, that we ultimately abide in Christ. 

If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” (John 15:7, ESV)

I do not ask you to take them out of the world, but I do ask you to keep them safe from the Evil One… I sent them into the world, just as you sent me into the world.
I pray not only for them, but also for those who believe in me because of their message. I pray that they may all be one.
Father! May they be in us, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they be one, so that the world will believe that you sent me.
I gave them the same glory you gave me, so that they may be one, just as you and I are one: I in them and you in me, so that they may be completely one, in order that the world may know that you sent me and that you love them as you love me.
Father! You have given them to me, and I want them to be with me where I am, so that they may see my glory, the glory you gave me; for you loved me before the world was made.
Righteous Father! The world does not know you, but I know you, and these know that you sent me.” (John 17:15-16, 20-25, GNT)

In a world where over 650,000 people– people with hearts, with dreams, with stories– are told they have no earthly home, they NEED to know the comforting truth: that there is a God who longs to be their home, no matter their earthly address.


Please pray with me, as this displacement continues, that first and foremost, these people would be touched by the love and complete security of knowing Christ as their Personal Lord and Savior during the darkest times of their lives. Pray that as they’d know Christ, they’d receive the supplies necessary to quench their hunger and thirst– spiritually, emotionally, mentally, and physically. Pray for those who are administering this emergency relief, that they’d be touched by the love of God and would share this unspeakable joy– even a midst sorrow– with those they are taking care of.
Pray that as hands are held, needs are provided, and hearts are heard, there would be healing and restoration happening in the people of Northern Nigeria. Pray that they’d find earthly shelter, refuge, and security– and that it’d ultimately bring them to find THE Home, Christ, so that none of them would be spiritually homeless.

Sources:
http://www.ndtv.com/article/world/boko-haram-takes-over-another-nigeria-town-witnesses-official-579765?curl=1408671738
http://www.vanguardngr.com/2014/08/thousands-receiving-aid-boko-haram-siege/?
http://www.christiantoday.com/article/raf.planes.to.look.for.missing.chibok.schoolgirls/39823.htm?
http://www.punchng.com/news/boko-haram-overruns-police-academy/?
http://www.aljazeera.com/news/africa/2014/08/boko-haram-seizes-another-nigerian-town-2014821151552714624.html
http://www.punchng.com/news/un-rehabilitates-escaped-chibok-girls-2/
http://www.nation.co.ke/news/africa/Nigeria-soldiers-mutiny-over-Boko-Haram/-/1066/2425838/-/j7dkcj/-/index.html?