“Rejoice Always”: Hope, 4 Years On

Friends and Readers,

Thank you for spending your time today, reading this blog, and praying for the many people it advocates for.

For obvious reasons, today is a sad and solemn day. For those of you who do not know, as of today, it has been four years since the Chibok schoolgirls were kidnapped by Islamic terrorist group, Boko Haram. 276 innocent young women were kidnapped and condemned for simply going to a school that was deemed “sinful” by Boko Haram (their name in Hausa, the local language in Northern Nigeria, means “Western Education is sinful.”)

Over these past four years, approximately 164 of the young women were either freed through negotiations, or made their way out themselves. This is a cause for beautiful celebration.

But, unfortunately, four years into their captivity, 112 still remain within the clutches of Boko Haram. A video was released, with many of the purported Chibok girls stating that “We are the Chibok girls. We are the ones you are crying about for us to come back. By the grace of Allah, we are never coming back.”1 Whether or not these young women mean what they say, it can look like the war on freeing and rescuing these young girls is bleak. But there is always room for Hope.

The Catholic archbishop of Canterbury met with Nigeria’s president, Muhammadu Buhari, on March 11th, 2018.2 Amidst speaking about the herder-farmer conflict and how education tackles poverty, the archbishop urged Buhari to protect Christians undergoing persecution in Northern Nigeria, as well as pushing for the Nigerian government to free the Chibok girls (and Leah Sharibu, the only “Dapchi girl” still in Boko Haram captivity because she refused to renounce Christ). Some of the archbishop’s words concerning the Chibok girls stirred Hope in me, even now. He said:

“It’s so important that we pray for the peace and progress of Nigeria – and particularly for the liberating peace of Jesus to be with all those held in captivity.”2

The liberating peace of Jesus, even in captivity. The archbishop’s words reminded me of Philippians, when Paul the apostle—who is currently in prison for sharing the Gospel—tells the readers in the church of Philippi to “rejoice in the Lord,” and that “It is no trouble for me [Paul] to write the same things to you again, and it is a safeguard for you” (Philippians 3:1, NIV, brackets mine). In one of the worst possible situations to be in, Paul is not complaining, or venting, or worrying. No—He is rejoicing, seeing even the idea of prison as an opportunity to tell even his guards about the faith and hope found in Christ alone.

“Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel. As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. And because of my chains, most of the brothers and sisters have become confident in the Lord and dare all the more to proclaim the gospel without fear.”
(Philippians 1:12-14, NIV)

There is no doubt—the Apostle Paul was sold out to Jesus, and, in faithfully serving Christ, was brought to experience Joy, no matter the situation (Philippians 1:25). But I think it is important to know that Joy does not always mean one has a smile on their face, skipping through tulips as if nothing is wrong. Paul  speaks of being cheered up by Timothy’s news regarding the people of the church in Philippi—which tells us that Paul needed to be cheered up, at times, and that he was cheered by hearing about his loved ones. Instead of Joy simply meaning happiness, it can be said that Joy is found in a growing and flourishing relationship with Jesus Christ, no matter the situation. It is because of this truth that Paul so confidently states in Philippians 4:13, “I can do all this [living in plenty and in want] through him who gives me strength.

All of this is well and good—but what does it have to do with the Chibok schoolgirls? Looking at their predicament, it can be all too easy to be flung into despair, and for good reason. How are we supposed to “rejoice always,” as Paul states, while still seeing the reality of the situation? We are to focus on the eternal, un-conquerable Hope found in Christ Jesus. Whether the Chibok girls in captivity or are free, Jesus Christ is alive, risen, and reigning; and, no matter how powerful Boko Haram (led by satan) is, Christ has the final word on the subject—always.hope jesus

This Hope is unshakable, and is the very reason for why this entire blog exists. So, even in the midst of such terror, heartbreak, and despair, let us remember that the liberating Peace of Jesus can be had at all times, even in captivity—if only we start looking to Christ, instead of looking down.

In solidarity,

Annalee Hoover, ISAIAH 62 PRAYER MINISTRY


Do you know Jesus?

“Promise Maker, Promise Keeper, You finish what you begin.”
– “The Lord Our God” by Kristian Stanfill

In the beginning, Adam and Eve felt no shame (Genesis 2:25). But, as they sinned, they became filled with shame—and tried to cover themselves in fig leaves.

God, finding them in their sinful state, is grieved by their disobedience; yet, He covers them with something better than fig leaves: the skin of an animal. In this, God showed Adam and Eve that He was going to cover them and their sin, and that it was going to take the death of an innocent sacrifice to do so.

Fast-forward almost 4 thousand years3, and Jesus is on the scene. The perfect Son of God, God Himself, died the death we deserved—and God atoned for our sin better than we could ever do on our own through being “good enough” (Ephesians 2:8-10).

God has freely given all we need to be saved—God’s provision is Christ Jesus. Learn more about our need for a Savior, and how Christ fulfills this need, here.



Please pray for (you can find the prayer sheet for this, here):

  • The parents and loved ones of the Chibok schoolgirls. This is no doubt a horrific day for everyone involved; please pray that they would put their Hope and Trust in Jesus, through this time.
  • The Chibok girls who are free. Today may be triggering for them, mentally, emotionally, spiritually and physically. Please pray that they would be comforted and would have a Godly community of people around them, to help them.
  • The Chibok girls still in captivity. Let’s pray that they truly desire to be free, and would be able to get free, either through negotiations, or through escaping.
  • For renewed interest and focus on the Chibok schoolgirls. Let’s pray that the public sees what is going on, and urges the Nigerian government and all those in power to free the girls.

1 http://www.newsweek.com/were-never-coming-back-kidnapped-chibok-girls-say-boko-haram-video-781506

2 http://dailypost.ng/2018/04/12/archbishop-canterbury-reveals-told-buhari-london/

3 http://www.matthewmcgee.org/ottimlin.html and http://www.hebroots.com/lul7_8.html

 

 

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The Chibok Schoolgirl Kidnapping: 4 Years Later

Almost four years ago, I was grieved like never before for the plight of 276 schoolgirls from Northern Nigeria.

In an online devotional, I came across women who were praying mightily and fervently for the release of these girls—and I have been praying ever since.

Over the past four years, much has changed. Nigeria has gotten a new president; the Nigerian government has fought Boko Haram with noticeable success. But, for 112 of the kidnapped Chibok girls, and their friends and families, little to nothing has changed.

Many could have children, based upon video footage1; some have gotten married2. But, throughout all the changes, one disturbing, grieving thing has stayed the same:

As of today, 112 Chibok schoolgirls are still in captivity.

My devotional time with Christ brought me to read Isaiah 62-63, again. One of the very passages of scripture this blog hangs upon, it was more than a coincidence that this passage was right next to the passage of scripture I was going to read, today. As I read it, the reason for why I was even led to create this blog once again became clear to me.

“I’ve posted watchmen on your walls, Jerusalem.
Day and night they keep at it, praying, calling out,
reminding God to remember.
They are to give him no peace until he does what he said,
until he makes Jerusalem famous as the City of Praise.”
(Isaiah 62:6-7, The Message Version)

My heart was encouraged by this verse, as I continued to search the passage, remembering what Christ clearly promised me. I came to verses 10-12 of Isaiah 62.

Walk out of the gates. Get going!
Get the road ready for the people.
Build the highway. Get at it!
Clear the debris,
hoist high a flag, a signal to all peoples!
Yes! God has broadcast to all the world:
‘Tell daughter Zion, ‘Look! Your Savior comes,
Ready to do what he said he’d do,
prepared to complete what he promised.”’
Zion will be called new names: Holy People, God-Redeemed,
Sought-Out, City-Not-Forsaken.
(Isaiah 62:10-12, The Message Version)

To be honest, my heart is downtrodden, and a bit cynical, as I have watched day after day go by with little to no change in circumstances. But it is during these times that I understand my need for gratitude. Jesus has brought forth goodness, changed circumstances, and freed many, many people; He just hasn’t done it according to my will or time schedule. It is during these times that I am convicted of my own complaining.

These past four years have been incredibly difficult, but they have been highlighted with many victories. 164 Chibok girls have been freed, and are well on the road to healing, after all they have gone through. Some have even gone back to school—something that is nothing short of miraculous. Parents have stayed alive, and have watched their daughters come and hug them. Numerous people have surrendered this situation to Jesus’ control, and watched Him work in amazing ways.3

But yet, there is so much to still be done. So much to pray for. So much to hope for.

One of #BringBackOurGirls’ hashtags for this four year anniversary is “#HopeEndures.” Oh, how it does. True Hope endures only when our Hope is not in circumstances changing alone, but rather Hope in Christ– knowing that He is in control, and using all things for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28).

Jesus is active, and moving in this situation, far more than we could ever possibly see. Though, in context, Isaiah 62-63 is about Israel, it can be applied to the situation concerning the Chibok girls. Isaiah speaks of a “day of vengeance” for the LORD in faith, as if it had already happened (though he was prophesying about an event that was going to happen in the future).

“…It was for me [the LORD] the day of vengeance;
the year for me to redeem had come.
I looked, but there was no one to help,
I was appalled that no one gave support;
so my own arm achieved salvation for me,
and my own wrath sustained me.
I trampled the nations in my anger;
in my wrath I made them drunk
and poured their blood on the ground.”
(Isaiah 63:4-7, NIV)

It is Isaiah 62-63 that shows us a God who is not passively benign, but rather, is passionate, involved in our affairs, and bent toward making the evil injustices of situations such as these right, again. Though no one else seems to care for those who have been trodden on by the world, Jesus Loves them dearly, with perfect Love—and tramples the evil, disgusting people who have callously trampled them.

It is with Hope and Faith in this God that we look forward to each of these young women making it home—in Christ’s way and timing. Of course this day is a solemn, sad one, as we look at the many young women who are still not free. But, in this sadness, we can choose to look towards Jesus. Looking backward, we can see all Jesus has done; and looking forward, we can wait in expectant Hope to see all that He will do.four years

“Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; His Love endures forever” (Psalm 136:1). May the Truth of this statement spur us all onto trusting Jesus, keep us aware of the Chibok girls’ situation in Northern Nigeria, and keep us praying for their release—and the release of all those taken by Boko Haram. God is good; His Love will endure all things.

This post is dedicated to the women and children found and freed from prostitution as a part of the “Backpage” FBI investigation. May these women and children find ultimate freedom from their way of life, whether they were coerced into it or not, by coming to know Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.

1 http://www.newsweek.com/were-never-coming-back-kidnapped-chibok-girls-say-boko-haram-video-781506

2 https://www.cnn.com/2016/08/16/africa/chibok-girl-amina-ali-nkeki-boko-haram-husband/

3 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xPa9nb4NAhE


 Do you know Jesus?

So many look at the goodness people do as an indication of where they will spend eternity, but this is just not the case. Salvation is not based on what we do– it is based upon what Christ did (Ephesians 2:8-9). No matter who you are, or what you have done, Christ wants you to know that if you believe in Him for the forgiveness of your sin, you will be saved (Romans 3:23; 10:10)!

Learn more about this God, who gives salvation and forgiveness so freely, and why you need Him, here.



Please pray for (you can find the prayer sheet here)…

  • The Chibok school girls. Please continue to pray for their desire to be free, and for their release. You can find a list of their names and pictures, here.
  • The loved ones of the Chibok school girls. Please pray that Christ would give them strength, courage, and patience as they await their daughters’ homecoming.
  • Renewed interest in the Chibok girls. Pray that this world, especially today and in the days to come, would give these women and their plight the attention, prayer, and help they deserve.
  • The safe homecoming of Leah Sharibu. Sharibu is the only Dapchi girl not freed, only because she refused to renounce Christ. Please pray she is able to come home, soon.
  • Northern Nigeria as a whole.

 

Thank you for your prayers!! May the Chibok girls be home this time next year.

April 2018: Where are we in the war to free the Chibok Girls (and those like them)?

With April 14th, 2018, coming up soon, I have created a facts sheet of where the Chibok girls’ situation lies, as well as to encourage prayer for them this week. To share this information by print and/or digitally, view, share, and download this flyer.

On April 14th, 2014, 276 women, ages 16-18, were kidnapped by Boko Haram, a muslim terrorist group. Four years later, here are the facts:

  • 164 of the young Chibok women have escaped or been freed.

57 of the Chibok girls were able to run away from Boko Haram members shortly after being kidnapped; afterward, one Chibok girl by the name of Amina Ali was found on May 17th, 2016. The Nigerian government and the International Red Cross freed 21 of the Chibok girls on October 13th, 2016, in exchange for four Boko Haram members (source). 82 more Chibok girls were freed on May 6th, 2017, in a negotiation by Mustapha Zanna, an ex-lawyer to the creator of Boko Haram, Mohammed Yusuf (source). On January 3rd, 2018, Salomi Pogu, along with another kidnapped young woman (outside of the Chibok girls) Jamila Adams, was found by the Nigerian military, having escaped from Boko Haram with Jamila Adams.

  • 112-114 of the Chibok girls are still in captivity.

Counting up every instance of where the Chibok girls have publicly been freed, there is approximately 112-114 Chibok girls still left. Many women who claimed to be a part of the Chibok girls were seen in a video released in January of 2018, claiming that, concerning coming back home in freedom, “by the grace of Allah we are not coming back.” After much prayer and thought, ISAIAH 62 PRAYER MINISTRY was continued, seeking to be faithful to Christ in this particular situation. While these young women may be telling the honest truth, there is also a big chance that they were coerced into believing these things. Whatever the truth is, Christ can still do a miracle here, freeing these girls.

  • The State of Chibok, Nigeria

In 2016, BBC reported the state of those in Chibok, Nigeria—many of whom are waiting for their daughters, kidnapped by Boko Haram, to come home. One father, given the name Daniel to protect his and his daughter’s identities, said he called her mobile phone after she had been kidnapped; the person on the other end of the line was a member of Boko Haram, who said that the phone number belonged to his wife (source).

Even in the face of such tragedy, many of these people still keep up hope. “’I gave birth to that baby,’ one mother said of her kidnapped daughter to BBC. ‘Even if she comes to me with a gun in her hand, let her kill me, but I will still welcome her.’”

Now, it has been said in some reports that Boko Haram still has an enclave in Northern Nigeria, contrary to the claims of the Nigerian government, who has said that Boko Haram has been defeated in the Northern region of Nigeria (source). Still today, no one can know the truth, for sure.

  • What has happened to the freed Chibok girls?

Many of these freed Chibok girls have bravely gone to the United States in pursuit of higher education, while the majority of others have been undergoing psycho and social therapy, having been able to go and see their families only on a few occasions.

One Chibok schoolgirl, faced with the possibility of going back to Chibok, tried killing herself (source). Fortunately, she did not pass away from her attempt, and was only injured badly.

These girls, so easily identified by numbers alone, are real young women; each with their own abilities, skills, interests, and dreams.

Not only this; but there are still hundreds of people out there, waiting for their loved ones—the Chibok girls—to come back home. Each day, they wait; they hope; and they pray.

 

As long as these girls are not with their families, we will pray for them, too. Please join us, this April 14th, for a day of prayer for, and awareness about, the Chibok girls.

Because they are not just OUR girls… they are His.

To share this information by print and/or digitally, view, share, and download this flyer.

As of late, I have read this article, where Amina Ali Nkeki stated that she is “not afraid of Boko Haram,” because “they are not her God.” This young woman is so fearless! This post is in tribute to her. Please pray that Amina Ali Nkeki, the first Chibok girl who was freed, would trust in Jesus– and would be further down the path of healing mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually than ever.


Do you know Jesus?

3000 years ago, God became a Man. And because He knew that we would never be able to save ourselves, He gave Himself so that we could be saved– not based on anything we did, but solely based on accepting what He did.

Learn more about this Man, and how you can be saved by Him, here.



Please pray for (get the prayer sheet for this, here)…

  • The Chibok girls, and Leah Sharibu. Leah is the only girl from the Dapchi school kidnapping who is still not home– all because she refused to renounce Jesus. Please pray that she would be able to be free, soon.
  • The families and loved ones of the Chibok girls, and Leah Sharibu.
  • For increased awareness of the plight of the Chibok girls and Leah Sharibu, this week. As we approach April 14th, please pray that Jesus would put the Chibok girls in the world’s spotlight; pray that the Nigerian government would not give up trying to save these women.
  • Amina Ali Nkeki. Please pray that she would trust Jesus, and would be more healed than ever.

Thank you for your prayers. ❤

Urgent Prayer Request: Please pray for Leah Sharibu.

As the only girl who was not released out of 110 young “Dapchi girls,” Leah Sharibu is still in Boko Haram captivity as of today, March 27th (source).

Her father, Sharibu Nathan, got the news that she was to be released on Saturday, but has since been waiting for her freedom (source). Both the media and the Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, wrongly informed the public of Leah Sharibu’s freedom, and later Idris defended his statement, explaining that the media misquoted him about the “Dapchi girls” (source).

At age 15, Leah is being held simply because she refused to renounce her faith in Jesus. Boko Haram members ordered her to recite the Islamic profession of faith, but she told them she didn’t know how to recite it, and that she was not brought up Muslim. Boko Haram said they would free her when she learned, and recited, the profession of faith (source).

USA Today reported that her father said this about her persecution: “My daughter is alive, but they wouldn’t release her because she is a Christian.” Alapade Agoro, chairman of a party in opposition to President Buhari’s political party, boldly insinuated that the

BRINGBACKLEAH

A picture of Rebecca Sharibu, Leah’s mother (on the left) and Leah. Photo credits: Kemi Filani blog

current Nigerian government and President had a bias toward helping Muslim girls (but had no real, true evidence to back up his claim). “It is obvious that the federal government negotiated to get the other (Muslim) Dapchi students released,” He said. “It has now become a crime to be a Christian in Nigeria,” USA Today reported (source).

 

Some may ask, “Why in the world would this young woman not just renounce her religion if it meant sparing her from pain and great potential harm?” This is a valid question. Most people would (and actually do) try to avoid suffering at any cost.

 

Could God have willed Leah to go through this extra time of pain? Is it God’s Will that Leah would suffer and be without her family & loved ones, in order to stay true to Him?

Many proponents and teachers of the Prosperity Gospel would say no. But the Bible says differently.

When trying to figure out the will of God in our lives, Christ brings guidance through the inspired words of the Apostle Paul, in Romans 12:2.

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
(New International Version)

The pattern of this world says to that you’ve got to climb your way to the top. It tells you to be a good person, but to ultimately bite back in this Dog-eat-dog world.
It tells you to run away from all types of suffering and inconvenience, no matter what that means for anyone else. “Don’t feel like it? Don’t worry– what really matters is honoring yourself first.” It tells us to pursue passion, even at the expense of honor, as Elizabeth Elliot writes. It tells us to inflate our egos with knowledge, to wield power only full of human force, and to build our kingdoms made of sand as high as possible before the waves of death wash it all away.

This world tells us to follow our hearts. But again, the Bible says differently. “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” (Jeremiah 17:9, NIV).

Society tells us that if the majority of people agree to it and/or is doing it, that must mean it’s okay/true/acceptable.
But Jesus, in His great Love for us, says, “No, my child. Listen to and follow me.” Even when it means you are following Him, seemingly alone.

Leah, in the face of being completely alone, has not conformed to the pattern of this world. She has not held to the belief that lying to get out of suffering was the way to go. She, as a Believer, did not back down from her simple belief in Jesus as her Lord and Savior. And she found out His Will: “through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God,” and “Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived” (Acts 14:22; 2 Timothy 3:12-13, ESV). Acts 14:22 does not say that going through trials is the way we are saved, but simply that trials are bound to happen in our walks with Christ. As much as it hurts– and pains our Heavenly Father– trials and persecution are valuable, and are apart of our lives as Believers in a fallen world.

Nathan Sharibu also told reporters, “…They told her they would release her if she converted, but she said she will never become a muslim. I am very sad, but I am also overjoyed because my daughter did not renounce Christ” (source).

Please, let’s pray, pray, pray for this beautiful daughter, sister, friend, and most importantly, Daughter of the King, as she experiences this horror. May Jesus show Himself faithful on her behalf!

This post is dedicated to all those who are currently suffering persecution of any kind. May Jesus strengthen you, encourage you, and faithfully lead and guide you down paths for His namesake. ❤


Do you know Jesus?

In our deepest, darkest suffering, the testimony of still holding on to Christ and proclaiming that He is good, even in our pain, can be nothing short of shocking to the world.

Perhaps you have somehow found yourself on this page, reading this blog post, and wondering, “Why would a 15 year old girl choose to remain so faithful to Jesus?”

Friend, let me tell you the truth, today: It is because Jesus is God, He is Risen and reigning, and is lovingly interested in and involved in every detail of our lives. To learn more about this living, intimate God, here.


Please pray (find the prayer sheet, here)…

  • for Leah. Please pray that she is protected by Jesus and His angels, and would continue to put her faith, trust, and hope in Christ as she experiences whatever she is experiencing.
  • That others would come to know of this, and would know more of what is happening in Northern Nigeria.
  • That the remaining Chibok girls would be released, in Jesus’ timing.

Thank you for your prayers!!! May Leah be taken care of!

DAPCHI GIRLS FREED!!!

As of this morning (3/21/2018), the Nigerian government reported that at least 104 of the 110 kidnapped school girls from Dapchi, Nigeria were FREED by Boko Haram, who dropped them off in the middle of their town early Wednesday morning!!!

The Nigerian government reported that no negotiations were made with the Nigerian government, and that the girls, and one boy who somehow was in the mix of girls, were released with a warning to not “…take your girls to that school again if you don’t want us to kidnap them again.” More on this to come!

Praise Jesus for this amazing development!!!

Dear Lord Jesus,
We praise You and we thank You for working in the lives of these girls, and for setting them free! Thank You for always working in our lives, even when it seems like something is hopeless. We rejoice in You, Jesus, and in these beautiful girls! We pray now that you would bring the rest of the Chibok girls– and the few Dapchi girls remaining– back home.

In Jesus’ Name we pray,

Amen! 🙂

Prayer: The First Defense

On March 16th, an article was written concerning two things that have been very raw in global news: The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Florida, and the kidnap of both the Chibok schoolgirls and the Dapchi school girls, among many others.

The article compared the school violence that has happened in America to the school violence exhibited by Boko Haram.1

One comparison was striking: For the Chibok and Dapchi girls—among so many others—protect our girlsthe terror was from the “outside,” an ideology and a people thoroughly against the governments of Northern Nigeria and other nations. In the School shooting in Florida, it was a young man—a man “within society”—that shot and killed 17 people, including students and school staff.

In both cases, people were lured by satan and spurred on by an evil world to commit these heinous and heartbreaking acts. People who hated their society, and thought little to nothing about the precious lives of the people they have kidnapped and killed.

In so little words, there is both terror within, and terror outside.

Fighting the Battles

In both situations, the watching world has vowed this vow: “We won’t forget.”2 Many have meant this, and many have not—but if you might be a person who has forgotten these people, this post is not to shame or push you into some sort of agenda. Actually, I have to be honest: I am a person who forgets these things. I am a person who does not always remember to pray for these precious people; and at times, I am completely ignorant to the pain others are feeling all around me.

This idea of both terror within, and terror outside, reminds me of Numbers 22-25, where a sorcerer/man of divination named Balaam is paid by the king of an enemy of Israel—King Balak of Moab—to curse the wandering Israelites3. It is the story of the talking donkey, which many people have heard of (especially if you have grown up in the church).

After being stopped by the angel of the LORD, God told Balaam to only say what God wanted him to say (Numbers 22:35), and Balaam refused just to say whatever he wanted (Numbers 22:38). Guess what happened? No matter how King Balak pressured Balaam,

doctrine-of-baalam

King Balak getting angry with Balaam for refusing to curse Israel.

Balaam could only say what God wanted him to: all blessings, and no curses, toward Israel (Numbers 23-24). Just like that, any terror and desolation that could occur from the outside of Israel through Balaam’s curses became inert; God was protecting His People.

But what Balaam couldn’t achieve through cursing Israel by divination, he helped achieve through the Israelite’s own wrongdoing. In Numbers 25, the Israelite men started sleeping with the local Moabite women around them; this debauchery led to the Israelite men worshipping the sexual, false gods and goddesses of Moab. The idolatry committed by Israel caused God to be angry; subsequently, a plague was sent to kill the Israelites. This terror, caused from within, ended up killing 24,000 people, and was only stopped when the “ringleaders” of this sin were killed.

What does this have to do with the violence in Northern Nigeria and Florida? I am not trying to compare the school shooting in Florida with what happened to the Israelites; absolutely NO VICTIM of the Florida shooting is in any way at fault for the choices of one person.

What I am saying is this: there is evil all around us—evil that is subtle, insidious, eating away at the life Christ has for us—both through attacks from the enemy, and from our own inward struggles with sin.

At the end of the day, this evil opposition comes at us from all sides, in a plethora of different ways.

evil

 

Prayer: First Line of Defense

With these attacks going on around us— and with everything we thought we knew for sure being shaken—I want to ask you one question: what is the first thing you normally do when you are attacked, or when you see an attack happening?

Do you go to Facebook and social media, posting and tweeting? Do you put together a protest, writing on signs?

Do you simply turn away from it all, hoping that, if it’s out of sight, it’s out of mind, and it will somehow resolve itself on its own?

All of these things are understandable; I’ve done all three. But I want to encourage you all to do one thing first: Pray to Jesus about it.

You’ll notice that I did not say “prayer” vaguely. I did this for a reason: The God of the Bible—the Godhead, three-in-one– is the only God in control, and able to change anything at all.

I can hear the scoffs and retorts. “Jesus? What is Jesus going to do? Time for prayers have ended, Annalee. We need action. We need results, now.”

But, regarding any attack in this life, Ephesians 6:12 declares, “For our struggle is not 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” (NIV).

And in terms of personal attacks happening in our everyday lives, God’s Word tells us to “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7, NIV).

Honestly? I’m horrible at this whole “praying first” thing. Most of the time, I think that writing a blog post, or sending a tweet or even just a text instead is more productive than immediately going to the God of all Creation in prayer over these attacks. But, when one person goes in prayer to Christ, the One and only true God, about these things, more is done than anything we mere humans could ever do.

Praying to Jesus. This is the number one thing that will heal and protect, not only our morebroken children, but our broken world. So, may we protest. May we write blog and social media posts advocating for these precious people. May we be an active part of these people’s miracles.

But first, may we spend time with Jesus in prayer and worship. It is then that we will be strengthened and led to do all the beautiful things He has for us to do.


Do you know Jesus?

People today think that Christians are crazy for believing that a person can have a real, genuine, personal relationship with God. This is probably most evident in the words of Joy Behar recently, who publicly mocked Christians when she said, “It’s one thing to talk to Jesus. It’s another thing when Jesus talks to you. …that’s called mental illness, if I’m not mistaken.”

But, no matter what the world thinks about it, Jesus Christ is risen and reigning—and He longs to have a personal, saving relationship with each and every person ever made, if only they will accept Him as Savior and God over their lives.

Jesus cares DEEPLY for you. He has spoken, in His Word, about what it takes to know Him. Read more about His Good News, here.



Please pray for (print out a prayer sheet here)…

  • Joy Behar. This is random, but please pray that she would come to know Jesus even after her remarks on The View. Pray for the many, many people who agree with her sentiments.
  • The Dapchi girls. Please pray that they would come home, soon.
  • The Chibok girls. Pray that the 112 left in captivity would desire home, and would be able to come home. You can find a link to many of their names, here.
  • Those involved in and affected by the Marjorie Stoneman Douglas high school shooting in Parkland, Florida. Pray that these broken, hurt people would come to know Jesus.

Thank you for your prayers.  these kids be protected by Christ through prayer, and Christ-led action.

1 http://keranews.org/post/beset-school-violence-us-and-nigeria-consider-each-others-experience

2 The video featuring Anderson Cooper in this article: https://www.cnn.com/2018/02/15/us/florida-shooting-victims-school/index.html

3 https://www.gotquestions.org/Balak-in-the-Bible.html

 

He Wins the War: Hope for the Weary

Over a month ago– on February 5th, 2018—two people were burnt alive in Alau-Kofa village, which is in close proximity to Borno state’s capitol of Maiduguri. This horrific information has come just as the military has said that Boko Haram has been defeated1.

“Saying they have been completely defeated is pushing it too far,” Major General Nicholas Rogers has said concerning the fight against Boko Haram1.The government and military has said much, but things and events have said otherwise, to the anger of those fighting for the Chibok girls—and now, also for the Dapchi girls.

Just yesterday, March 13th, people at the center of the #BringBackOurGirls movement declared that the Nigerian government has 7 days to find and free the 110 “Dapchi” girls, or face “a lawsuit on the grounds of criminal negligence.”2 Obviously, the world is demanding the truth, and real action.

But what if those things never come? What if, for all our striving and demands, our actions and best laid plans, these girls are not freed in our time frame, and Boko Haram continues to at least look like they are definitely winning the war? These are hard, pressing times. Times where the Nigerian military does not want to perform aerial attacks, for fear of killing the very girls people are demanding they save. They are weary of trying to find and apprehend Abubukar Shekau, leader of one faction of Boko Haram, because he is using these precious people as human shields1.

Human. Shields.
Innocent young women and men, their lives put on the line so that these wicked people can live, and continue to do evil.

As I was thinking about this—about how horrific and unjust it all is—one thought came to mind: Jesus knows exactly what these people are going through.

You see, as far-fetched as it all sounds, Jesus was our human shield.

For sinful people who were indifferent or hateful towards Him, “…he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5, NIV). Jesus took the blow we, evil sinners, deserved. He took upon Himself the wrath of God, so that we—the ones who have brought it on in the first place—could live3.

Jesus did all of this—only, He didn’t do it because He was forced to, as these innocent people are being made to. He did it of His own free will, choosing to completely obey His Heavenly Father.

I might get hate because of this; I know how racy it made be to compare a normal, everyday person to the leader of such an evil terrorist organization as Boko Haram. But answer me this: Is there such a thing as “big sins” and “small sins,”—that is, is there sins that are more damning than others?

Not just according to us, and not according to society—not even to Christian culture. But biblically?

There is one sin that can never be forgiven, and that is to reject Jesus Christ as one’s Personal Lord and Savior. But other than that, while sins that vary and differ based upon their consequences and who they hurt, I believe James 2:10 says, “If you have committed one sin you are guilty of all.” All sins are equally heinous, as John Piper has said4.

Bottom line: Jesus knows exactly how these hostages feel.
He knows exactly how every outraged mother, father, brother, son, daughter, and sister feels. How the incredibly frustrated, discouraged, angered members of Bring Back Our Girls feels.
He knows my discouragement—and yours, too.

He sees the bloodshed, the tears, the dirt and sin. He hears the cries, the screams; the silence of brokenness.

He hears your sighs, listens to every prayer. Yet, nothing has seemed to change—for the better, at least.

Friend, as everything seems to be getting worse, I have one final question for you: Do you trust the God, who took on the wrath and anger of God the Father upon Himself, to save and free you? Do you trust that He is good, and has good for you, even in this pain?

Look to Calvary, and know two things: Jesus Loves you. And He is in control.

 

As sin abounds, hearts continue to break, and demands are made in this sometimes hellacious world, I encourage you to look to Calvary amidst your much-needed prayers, demands, and actions. I encourage you to remember, no matter how it all ends up: satan may be “winning battles,” but Jesus has won the war.

He wins. May that carry you through. ❤


Do you know Jesus?

“Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted.”
(Isaiah 53:4, NIV)

On all accounts—from how people viewed Jesus, to the actual pain and suffering God put upon Him, Jesus suffered the worst pain of any person, ever. But why?

Isaiah 53 goes on to say, “By His wounds, we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5). “How?” You might ask?

These are two HUGE questions; and while I am only a human being, I would love to help you find and understand the answers. Read more about these questions, here.


Please pray for (you can get prayer sheets, here):

  • Wisdom for the Nigerian government, as they work on freeing the “Chibok” and “Dapchi” girls. President Buhari wants to negotiate with Boko Haram for the girls’ release; please pray that he would turn to Christ, and would be led of Him.
  • The “Chibok girls.” Pray that Christ brings them home soon.
  • The “Dapchi girls.” Pray that the government listens to activists, and works to bring them home, soon, too.
  • Those praying and protesting for these girls’ release; that they, we, would trust in Jesus alone, and would allow Him to strengthen us.
  • That Boko Haram would be crushed, and all “human shields” set free.

 

Thank you for your prayers!!!

1 https://www.news24.com/Africa/News/boko-haram-kills-two-as-military-says-group-defeated-20180205

2 http://www.africanews.com/2018/03/14/nigerian-gov-t-given-7-days-to-bring-back-chibok-dapchi-girls-or-face-charges//

https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/the-cup-consumed-for-us

https://www.desiringgod.org/interviews/are-all-sins-equal-before-god