“All my country has lost, because of what he is doing,” says a man from Maiduguri.
He is talking about his son, a man who is currently addicted to the painkiller Tramadol. Continue reading
He is talking about his son, a man who is currently addicted to the painkiller Tramadol. Continue reading
A little child, probably around 3 years of age, drinks from a tin cup, held up by their mother. On their head, a plastic IV nodule is attached, so that nurses can transfer fluids into their frail, young body.
In a region that normally holds 60,000 people, approximately 140,000 Nigerian refugees have flooded in, fighting and running from Boko Haram. Without much space to hold them, many refugees stand in lines for aid and food, while others, not unlike the child described in the paragraph above, lie motionless, starving to death in makeshift medical camps.
In a shocking, heartbreaking news article made by The Guardian Nigeria, it has been reported that nearly 2.6 million Nigerians have been displaced– driven from their homes– since the insurgency began (source).
There is news that is even more disturbing: Although severely under-reported, there have been more refugees in the past nine months in Monguno than have been detained in all of Europe (source). What does this mean? It means that thousands– quite possibly millions– of people have been forgotten– left behind, out of sight, out of mind, for months, with aid only coming to help most recently.
But while shocking statistics abound on the amount of displaced people in Northern Nigeria without a home or food this season, they all come down to this: There is a massive amount of people, who, for one reason or another, have largely gone unheard in their suffering. These people are starving for food; but so much more, for love, and for feeling like– and actually knowing– that they matter.
“In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”
(1 John 4:9-10, KJV)
During this time of the season, at least in the United States, there is MUCH to do: family to see, food to eat, celebrations to be had, houses to clean and decorate– it is easy for one to lose sight of the world around them, with so much hustling and bustling.
With Thanksgiving just ended, many have reflected upon the gifts they are thankful for. And, as Christmas is starting to be in the air (at least, on the radios, and in stores), one starts to think about the reason for the season, the reason why Christ-followers all around the world truly celebrate: Jesus Christ’s birth. While this too can easily be forgotten amidst the presents, tinsel, and Black Friday Christmas deals, the story of Christ coming to earth is the ultimate narrative– a narrative that this world is, whether they know it or not, dying to hear.
The message of John 4– and the message of the nativity– is simple: God gave. While the Christian will usually think of Christ coming to earth when thinking of the birth of Christ, it is a beautiful thing to ponder the fact that He was sent: that God the Father gave his only begotten son, and what a sacrifice this truly was. As one thinks of Christ, who “was there in the beginning” (as evidenced by John 1:1-3), and saw the whole world formed, fallen, and in chaos and despair, it is a marvel that He would come to that dark, disgusting, painful world, to die.
But why did God give Jesus to the world? Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist, being filled with the Holy Spirit, exclaimed something beautiful about Jesus (who was in Mary’s womb at the time):
“Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for he hath visited and redeemed his people, 69 And hath raised up an horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David; 70 As he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since the world began: 71 That we should be saved from our enemies, and from the hand of all that hate us; 72 To perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and to remember his holy covenant; 73 The oath which he sware to our father Abraham, 74 That he would grant unto us, that we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies might serve him without fear, 75 In holiness and righteousness before him, all the days of our life. 76 And thou, child, shalt be called the prophet of the Highest: for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways; 77 To give knowledge of salvation unto his people by the remission of their sins, 78 Through the tender mercy of our God; whereby the dayspring from on high hath visited us, 79 To give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.”
(Luke 1:68-79, KJV)
God not only saw the darkness– He saw the people “that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death” (Luke 1:79). God the Father gave Jesus Christ to this world, because God Loved, and God saw.
God the Father saw those sitting in the darkness; and as He saw them, He heard them. “And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob,” Exodus 2:24 proclaims; and, just as God heard the cries of the Israelites, suffering from their captivity to the Egyptians, He heard the cries of mankind, suffering under the weight of sin and death. God saw; God heard; and so, full of Perfect Love, God sent.
When thinking of the vast goodness of God– that He would give God the Son, Jesus Christ, to this world, to save them from their sins– it fills the hearts of those who Love Him, with complete and utter Joy. What kind of Love the Father has lavished! Under the wonderful weight of realizing all God the Father has given us, one Truth becomes apparent: Because Jesus heard mankind’s cry for help, it becomes the hearts of those who have accepted Him to hear the cries of those who are still crying out.
However one acts, in reaction to their cries, may differ based on how Christ leads them to act; but one thing is for certain: to hear the cries of those in distress, and not act, is to ignore.
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16, KJV). God so loved the world– and acted. Let us do the same. ❤
Do you know Jesus?
In John 3, Jesus is talking to a man named Nicodemus: a person who, though he was a Pharisee, and “a leader of the People,” could not understand Jesus’ Words. Trying to help Nicodemus understand, Jesus used a story from the Old Testament that would make sense to Him. “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16, KJV). (Read the story Christ is talking about in Numbers 21.)
The snake bite of death in the lives of mankind– caused by our own sin– just like the Israelites, was cured by Christ, who was “lifted up” on the cross, at Calvary. Today, Christ’s call is the same. “…for I am the Lord that healeth thee” (Exodus 15:26, KJV).
Are you in need of healing? Physical, emotional, and mental brokenness is only proof of the fact that sin and death are prevalent in this world, and of the true spiritual healing all of humanity needs, by coming to Christ. Read of the God who can heal you– and what He has already done to heal you, spiritually– here.
Please pray with me…
“Dear Father God,
You are good! No matter what the situation is like, we cannot thank You enough for sending Your only Son, so that we can know that even in the darkest of times, that You are good to us– and You never change. We thank You that we can say You are good.
We see so much darkness, around us. On the news, and in our very own lives, there is SO MUCH pain.
Father God, I thank You for knowing that pain, in sending Jesus to this broken world, to die for our sin.
Right now, as we have seen the extreme starvation and need for medical intervention in these people’s lives, we pray for the starvation going on at all levels: physically, mentally, spiritually, and emotionally.
Dear Lord Jesus,
I pray for these people, and I pray that You would fill them up. Please help Your People to stand against this darkness, and to “fill” others spiritually, as they share Your Good News. As men and women become desperate for survival, I pray that You would please bring them to Your Throne, so that they can realize that You alone fulfill their every need, and heal their every disease.
I pray that Your People, no mater who they are, would seek You in how to best assist these victims of Boko Haram violence.
Please fill them, Your People, in Northern Nigeria, with ALL they need to share Your Gospel, whether that would be to Boko Haram Members, or to the internally displaced peoples around them. Please, Father God, bring even the disgusting members of Boko Haram to Yourself, and help us to pray for them, as well.
May Your Word go forth in power– and may a revival happen, in these IDP Camps.
We pray for continued relief– and that You would show us how to take action, in love, for these people, however You lead us.
In Jesus’ Name,
If you believe Christ is leading you to give to those currently aiding displaced peoples, this post, dedicated to reputable Christian (and a few non-Christian) nonprofits currently on the ground in crisis areas, is a great place to start looking and praying about giving to. (Most of them do not know they are on this list. They are nonprofits I truly prayed over, investigated, and wrote about, with the belief that they are reputable. No sense of sponsorship has gone on for their place in this post, whatsoever.) It is just a friendly resource I was led to make available to those interested in giving!
As a follow up to the last post, this quick post is to help equip you, as readers, in practically living out what was written, and encouraged in this post.
A lot of the time, money– or another physical contribution– is one of the most valuable things we can give, especially in a fight that includes poverty, and extreme physical need. But, it is sometimes difficult to choose a target for a donation, that is reputable, financially accountable, and actively working in the region one feels led to give to.
After much prayer, and searching, I have found a couple of non-profits that are working directly in Nigeria, and/or especially pertaining to the Boko Haram insurgency, all for Jesus’ glory. Praying that this blesses you as you choose where to give, Here it is:
**I HAVE NOT BEEN ASKED BY ANY ORGANIZATION FOR PUBLICITY OR RECOMMENDATIONS, AND THIS BLOG IS IN NO WAY SPONSORED BY ANY NONPROFIT. THIS IS NOT A SPONSORED POST; I HAVE SEARCHED FOR, READ THROUGH, AND CHOSEN THESE NONPROFITS BECAUSE OF THEIR MISSION, FINANCIAL TRANSPARENCY, AND ABILITY TO HELP THOSE AFFECTED BY BOKO HARAM. It’s my mere opinion; but I pray it really blesses you! Please let me know if you know of any reputable nonprofits to add to this list.
Founded in 1970 by a man named Dr. Robert Finley, Christian Aid Mission focuses on supporting missionaries, ministries, and churches that are already in places where there are few, and/or persecuted, Christians– especially in nations where foreign missionaries are unwelcome, or cannot legally enter. Their own website says, “Christian Aid Mission seeks to establish a witness for Christ in every nation by assisting indigenous ministries that share the gospel with unreached people groups.” While Charity Navigator cannot rate them due to not being required “ to file the full IRS Form 990,” they claim to have extensive ethical and financial accountability (learn more here). They are working to both help Christian ministries in Nigeria flourish, as well as to help those suffering because of Boko Haram. Support native African missionaries, and the persecuted African Church through Christian Aid Mission, here.
Since the early 2000’s, Catholic Relief Services (CRS) has aided numerous farmers, local non-profits, and catholic churches in the Niger and Nigeria region. More recently, CRS has increased its aid to those displaced by Boko Haram in the region, especially in Diffa, Niger (source).
Working with Niger’s local non-profits like Demi-E, CRS has provided clean drinking water, as well as access to food through food vouchers, to hundreds of displaced peoples in the region of Niger and Chad.
Catholic Relief Services, the U.S. Bishops’ international aid and development agency, aims to “to cherish, preserve and uphold the sacredness and dignity of all human life, foster charity and justice, and embody Catholic social and moral teaching” by helping aid in disaster relief, as well as encouraging and supplying third-world communities with the resources to “achieve their full potential.”
Catholic Relief Services have come under fire in recent months, being accused of going against traditional catholic teachings, such as prohibiting the use of birth control, and collaborating with secular charities and non-profits to achieve the giving of aid, globally. Catholic Relief Services have replied to these accusations, in this webpage— and affirm that while they do work with “secular” organizations to give aid, they do not participate in projects or causes with secular organizations that go against catholic values (source).
While many core doctrines of Catholicism focus on earning one’s salvation, by good works (which is completely unbiblical: Ephesians 2:5), there are many Catholic Christians, who have been saved, by faith, through grace, and have received Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior (Ephesians 2:8-9). Catholic Relief Services supports, and supplies, millions of Christian Catholics (and people, in general), with the resources to give in a reputable, and financially responsible way, to those in this disaster who need it most. Learn more about what CRS is doing in Nigeria, here, and how you can donate to the cause, here.
SIM USA has been working all over the world, spreading the Gospel, and helping to educate those within Nigeria. They are passionate about letting Jesus be known, everywhere. They are also working to evangelize unreached people groups, “developing SIM teams in strategic centres in the core north, working with Evangelical Mission Society personnel, focusing on evangelism, discipleship, general and theological education, community health, development, and literacy” (source). Learn more about them, here.
Church of the Brethren in Nigeria works directly with Church of the Brethren in various parts of the United States. The Church of the Brethren is very involved in the Boko Haram insurgency and in the kidnapping of the Chibok girls. Learn about how you can help them to help brothers and sisters in Nigeria, here.
Gleaning for the world is a faith-based nonprofit, helping all kinds of people, regardless their backgrounds. They are helping within the US, in Syria and Iraq, and have worked on the ground in displacement camps in Nigeria, to do as their motto says: “alleviating suffering by efficiently distributing humanitarian aid.” They have provided food supplements and vitamins to displaced people who would otherwise have to go without in their bland, nutrition-less basic diets. They are also providing medical first aid to those hurt in fleeing Boko Haram. Because of their financial transparency, and high percentile of how much money actually goes toward their program, I recommend this nonprofit. I have NOT been asked to promote any one certain nonprofit, here; I am literally just recommending them completely of my own, unpaid volition.
Learn more about how you can help, here.
Voice of the Martyrs says that they are “committed to providing widows and children of martyred Christians” through the support and encouragement of connecting them with churches, vocational training to widows (and quite possibly older orphans), and through discipling widows and orphans. They also help those “Front-line workers” who are working to share the Gospel in such hostile regions like Northern Nigeria. You can find a direct link to donate to VOM’s Nigerian Widow and Orphan offer here.
While these organizations are not Christian, they are reputable charities currently helping those displaced by Boko Haram.
The Alliance for International Medical Action is a highly productive nonprofit, founded in 2009, with its headquarters in Senegal. Dedicated to eradicating treatable diseases within Africa, ALIMA has created 10 research projects in progressive medicine, partnering with other nonprofits and those on the ground in crisis areas to provide cutting-edge medical relief, primarily for malnourished and otherwise ill individuals (source).
ALIMA has worked in IDP camps in Northern Nigeria, specifically helping those who are malnourished. To read more about ALIMA, and help out their nonprofit, click here.
The Carter Center, in its own words, “in partnership with Emory University, is guided by a fundamental commitment to human rights and the alleviation of human suffering. It seeks to prevent and resolve conflicts, enhance freedom and democracy, and improve health.” The Carter Center has been involved with various Nigerian medical and political phenomena and events since the early 1990’s, and even annihilated Lymphatic Filariasis (a disforming, mosquito-created illness) in Nasarawa and Plateau, Nigeria in 2017. The Carter Center has supported the Nigeria Federal Ministry of Health in other ways, as well. Learn more about their effect in Nigeria here.
The Fistula Foundation aims at surgically healing women who have gone through traumatic childbirth, and have become incontinent through it. Women who give birth in third world countries can have many complications in childbirth, often resulting in the loss of their child. More than this, a woman can develop obstetric fistula, a condition where the vagina tears down to the anus. As a result, these women are left incontinent, and are at times rejected by their husbands and communities because of the incontinency.
The Fistula Foundation funds the best organizations known for fistula operations. Learn more about them, and how you can donate, here.
Save the Children is focused on helping children to grow up healthy and strong in communities where these resources are lacking. They are working in Nigeria (or, at least, were working hard there in 2017), fighting back against hunger. On their website, it says, “Save the Children in Nigeria is distributing food to vulnerable families, reaching nearly 16,500 people. Our teams have established therapeutic feeding centers and outreach centers that provide food for infants and young children suffering from malnutrition.” They have 3 out of 4 stars on Charity Navigator. Learn more about Save the Children, here.
The International Committee of the Red Cross is well-known for giving aid, but caught my attention after seeing that they now have a “Nigeria and Lake Chad Crisis Appeal,” an area that helps reassure donors that these monies will more directly be applied to everything happening within Northern Nigeria and Lake Chad. Read more about this fund, here.
CARE exists to save lives, defeat poverty, and achieve social justice. They started working in Nigeria in 2017, though it is unclear on if they are still working there. They were working to remove gaps in food security and helping women from gender-based violence, among other things. You can find them here.
This charity provides “vital support and humanitarian aid” to those in Nigeria, and has a 4-star rating with Charity Navigator. They are helping to provide food in the famine happening in Yemen, Nigeria, and surrounding countries. You can find them here.
Again, let me know if you know of any other nonprofits I could add. Thank you, for reading and praying! Praise Jesus for you! 🙂
“Dear Father God,
I praise you, Father, for the community of people, here, who both read, and pray, over the requests written, here.
As these men and women are led, by Your Holy Spirit, to give for the cause of those caught up in the Boko Haram insurgency, specifically those in IDP Camps, the Church there, and those otherwise affected by the Boko Haram insurgency, I pray that You would bless their hearts with remembering all that You have done, for them.
Dear Father God, Thank You for giving all, Father God, so that we might have a Personal, Saving, relationship with You! I pray that, in view of Your Kindness, You would search our hearts, and show us anything keeping us from a closer, richer, more beautiful relationship with You (Romans 2).
Bless them, today, Father God.
In Jesus’ Name I pray,
Prayer Update: 7/28/2016
“so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”
(Isaiah 55:11, NIV)
I am incredibly happy to announce that Christ has shown a visible answer to this urgent prayer request– if not fully, then in part.
The UN has announced that, “In a cross-border humanitarian operation, a total of 31 metric tonnes of food and some non-food items” have been delivered to approximately 15,000 internally displaced people, in the town of Banki, Nigeria. Banki, located on the border of Cameroun and Northern Nigeria, was captured by Boko Haram in September of 2014.
In light of this, Christ not only answered prayers about bringing food relief to Northern Nigeria, but He also has visibly answered countless prayers for the freeing of towns, in Northern Nigeria. Just like the food fed to these malnourished men, women, and children, Christ’s Word went out in answering these prayers!!!
As written in this blog post, please continuing praying, not only for physical bread to be had for these people, but that Jesus, the Bread of Life, would be received by these men, women, and precious children. Pray for revival, not only in Northern Nigeria, but in every land thirsty for Jesus!
Jesus hears you!!! Take heart, and continuing praying!! ❤ 🙂
7/20/2016: Dear Readers,
I have become aware of an urgent prayer request.
As of July 19th, 2016, UNICEF has shared that “close to a quarter million children in Northern Nigeria are malnourished” (source), and are severely in need of humanitarian aid.
In places that have only been newly freed by the Nigerian military, and vigilantes, UNICEF and other humanitarian aid organizations, have just realized, and been able to report such figures of malnutrition to the public. In their report, UNICEF has claimed that “Some 134 children on average will die every day from causes linked to acute malnutrition if the response is not scaled up quickly” (source).
The aid must be “scaled up quickly,” but sadly, UNICEF has not received even half of what it initially needed in funds for the Boko Haram insurgency. What’s more, UNICEF has said that 2 million Northern Nigerians are incapable of being reached by aid, because of such poor infrastructure.
Humans might not be able to reach them, but make no mistake: here, even now, no one is outside of Christ’s ability to save.
Will you please pray with me, for each of these unique, precious children, and their families?
“Dear Father God,
I thank You for hearing every prayer Your children speak, think, and express to You (Psalm 116:1).
Father God, I just want to thank You, and praise You, for releasing thousands, upon thousands, of men, women, and children from Boko Haram captivity, and placing them in the freedom, that they have needed, longed for, and prayed for, for countless hours, days, and months. Dear Father God, thank You for hearing our prayers over these precious people! Forgive me, for not celebrating these beautiful victories, more.
Father God, I thank You for everything You have, are, and will be doing. Dear Father God, when hearing that over a quarter million children, whom You have formed in the womb of their mothers, are dying– or close to dying– because of malnutrition, my heart breaks, Father God.
Father God, You sent Your Son, Jesus Christ, to save us, who were once spiritually dead. Not only did You save us– You continually make us new, as we feed upon You, Jesus, the Bread of Life (John 6:35).
Father God, You know our fragile frames; You know how much we need You, in every way (Psalm 103:14). we now come to You, and ask that, in Jesus’ Name, You would draw these men and women to You, the Bread of Life– and would not only feed their souls, but also their fragile bodies, supernaturally.
Father God, I pray for increased humanitarian aid and resources. Not only this, but I pray, Lord Jesus, that You would supernaturally feed those who are unable to be reached by human contact; and that, Father God, You would do this for Your Glory, and Your Glory alone– let all people know that You have saved, and fed, these people, so that Your Name may be glorified. May others know You as their Lord and Savior, Father God, because of all You have done!
I praise You for this, Father God. In Jesus’ Name I pray this. Amen!”
Please pray for these newly freed people– that they would receive bread, and most importantly, the Bread of Life, Jesus!
If you would like to donate to UNICEF, you can do so, here.
Jesus bless all of you!
Do you know Jesus?
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”
(Matthew 11:28, ESV)
When Jesus said these words, two thousand years ago, He knew just the kind of “heavy laden” life those who were listening, lived.
Those who surrounded Christ were most likely Jewish men and women following the Mosaic Covenant– a covenant, or promise, outlining how the Israelites were to come to, and have a relationship with, YHWH. Because mankind sinned against God in the beginning, God created the Mosaic Covenant for how the Israelites, and any who wanted to follow YHWH, were to atone for their sins, and be acceptable to God.
This included a set of rules and regulations that had to be rigorously kept, as well as a set of strict laws concerning how to atone for one’s sin, when one did sin. The thing is, these people did sin against Christ, again and again. As Romans 3:23 says, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…”. These people were constantly trying to keep the law, but could never fulfill– or fully atone for– their sin (Hebrews 10:1-4).
Something more had to be done. Then, like no one else, God Himself came to save mankind– from their own sin, and from a heavy-laden life of religion.
Learn more about this amazing God of true rest, here.
Bomb blasts filled the main markets all across Northern Nigeria. Markets in Jos, Maiduguri, and Yola, just as they were starting to be rebuilt and basic infrastructure re-attained, vicious, insane men senselessly killed themselves, murdering many, and ruining the lives of hundreds more, in mere seconds. These things– the shocking sounds of exploding bombs, the sudden panic and pain inflicted, and the oppressive, haunting psychological and physical trauma received by its victims– are exactly what the people of these ravaged, war-torn areas were terrified of in the first place. Continue reading
They lied. It was four o’clock in the morning in Baga, Nigeria, and, drowsy from sleep, the men in each household were told to get up and follow Boko Haram members outside so that they “could explain everything.” As 14 shaking men followed the terrorists into the brush, they were told to lie on the ground. What they had hoped for– “an explanation,” anything to acknowledge that they were human beings, too– was all for nought. 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.
This coming February, Nigerians will line up at the polls to vote for their next president– or to reinstate their current president, Goodluck Jonathan. The APC (All Progressives Congress) is making sure promises that if their candidate, Muhammadu Buhari, wins the election, there will be such change that 2014 will be their “last Christmas in bondage.” Problems such as lowering oil prices, the devaluation of the naira (the country’s form of currency), government and military corruption, and the Boko Haram’s terrorist insurgency have caused Nigerians to lose confidence in Nigeria’s social and government institutions. Amidst such major problems, it can be hard– almost impossible– to have a joyous Christmas in Nigeria, especially in Northern regions.
This Christmas, countless Nigerians are grieving their loved ones, suffering economic downturns, and living as displaced people in places such as Maiduguri, Chad, Cameroon, and Niger. Because of the government’s failure to serve their people, Nigerians are outraged and looking for any ounce of hope to get them through this depressing holiday season. Yet, among reports of worsening developments, there is a cause for joy: the true meaning of Christmas, Christ’s birth, expresses that God has become Immanuel, or “God with Us.” Continue reading
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. 🙂
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.
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.