Saved to Serve

“After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands…”
(Revelation 7:9, ESV)

It is no secret that Nigeria, especially Northern Nigeria, has been completely ravaged by Boko Haram’s insurgency. It has been a long 7 years since the islamic sect turned violent, killing tens of thousands of people and displacing 2.6 million from their homes. Although the majority of those killed or displaced are from Northern Nigeria, Nigeria has not been the only country deeply affected by Boko Haram.

In 2015 alone, the countries of Chad, Cameroon, and Niger have sustained more than 50 bombings, suicide attacks, and raids. In two of the attacks in Niger alone, the towns of Wogom and Diffa saw at least 100 homes go up in flames, killing 26 people and wounding many others [1]. In January of 2015, an estimated 400 people were savagely murdered in “door-to-door gun and knife attacks” by Boko Haram in Fotokol, Cameroon (source). Yet, these attacks are not the end of what Boko Haram has put these nations through; the three countries have also provided shelter, food and water to 200,000 Nigerian refugees, running from Boko Haram’s attacks in their own towns– in which 100,000 displaced people have fled to Cameroon alone (source). While it is clear that Nigeria has had its own trying time because of the Boko Haram insurgency, the people of Cameroon, Niger, and Chad have suffered horrifically at the hands of Boko Haram (also known as ISWAP: Islamic State’s Western Africa Province) as well. While these countries may be outside of this blog’s focus on Nigeria, they– and their people– are certainly not outside of Christ’s focus, and are in dire need of prayer and support.

Christ’s Witnesses

In Isaiah 43, Jesus, through Isaiah, says, “‘I will say to the north, Give [them] up, and to the south, Do not withhold;/ bring my sons from afar/ and my daughters from the end of the earth,/ everyone who is called by my name,/ whom I created for my glory,/ whom I formed and made‘” (Isaiah 43:6-7, “them” mine). Although this passage, in context, is clearly speaking about Israel, Gentiles, through the blood of Christ, have become God’s people and children, as well (Galatians 3:26). As on reads further in Isaiah 43, Jesus’ reason for gathering all of His children becomes clear.

“‘You are my witnesses,’ declares the Lordand my servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he. Before me no god was formed, nor will there be one after me. I, even I, am the Lordand apart from me there is no savior. I have revealed and saved and proclaimed— I, and not some foreign god among you. You are my witnesses,’ declares the Lord, ‘that I am God. Yes, and from ancient days I am he. No one can deliver out of my hand. When I act, who can reverse it?‘”
(Isaiah 43:10-13)

The people of Chad, Cameroon, and Niger, in the midst of warfare and displacement, need hope: that there is a God of Justice, watching over the situation, who in the end will mete out perfect Justice on their behalf. More than anything, though, the people of Cameroon, Niger, Chad, and Benin need to hear the Good News: that this God of Justice is also a God of Mercy; and, by the power of Christ’s blood, wants them to receive His gift of grace, forgiveness, and eternal Life with Him. Not only does this God want them to have life eternal, with Him; He wants them to have life abundant here, on earth, even in the midst of such desolation. But, as Romans 10:14 points out, “How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard?”

Jesus’ Command, Our Delight

The next verses in Romans confirms what is being suggested: that men and women need to be willing to go out, and tell others about Christ (Romans 10: 14b-15). But this concept is more than just a suggestion; it is Jesus’ command to all believers. It is found in Matthew 28: “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20, NIV). While following this commandment– just like any other work– will not make you more “righteous,” and will not “get you to heaven” (Salvation is by grace through faith, not works, lest any man should boast [Ephesians 2:8-9]), to truly love Jesus is to obey Him (John 14:15). Christians are called to grow in, and tell others about, Jesus Christ.

While this has not been the Church’s aim (at least in the majority of churches in America), in revival– truly coming back to Christ afresh, or coming to truly know Jesus for the first time ever– Christ’s Love in the heart of the believer should make one both truly compassionate, and zealous for others to come to know Christ, as well. Truly, Jesus wants deep, abiding relationships with His children, so that they might be full to overflowing with His Love. When the heart of a person truly responds to Christ, they exhibit the fruits of His Spirit in their lives: “love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23). As a Christian’s cup “runneth over” with these things, one can’t help but want to pour into others the Good News they have received.

Sharing the Bread of Life

While one can, and should, provide humanitarian relief to those in these countries, Christians should be aiming to fulfill a deeper need: for those they come in contact with to meet “the Bread of Life,” and “Living Water,” Jesus (John 6:35). All over the world, in every tribe, tongue, and nation, Christ is calling out to people to receive what only He can offer: true fulfillment, Perfect Peace, true rest, and divine guidance and insight, among countless other blessings. As His children, filled with His Spirit, we should be calling out, too; if not in those countries, physically, then in prayer, for others who do so. Because, in Chad, Cameroon, and Niger, we cannot fathom how badly they need it– need Him.

[1] sources: http://news.yahoo.com/18-killed-boko-haram-attack-southeast-niger-134025219.html and http://news.yahoo.com/boko-haram-jihadists-torch-50-homes-kill-four-153919840.html

***
On January 31st, 2015, Hyeon Soo Lim, a Korean-Canadian and pastor of a church in Toronto, Canada, was arrested by North Korean officials for “subversive plots” against the North Korean government– no doubt for missionary and “religious work” in many parts of North Korea. In December of 2015, he was sentenced to life in a hard labor prison; and although Canada’s government has caught wind of the story, it has done little to nothing to help free Pastor Lim.
Please pray for Pastor Lim, as he goes through this horribly difficult time. Pray that Christ would use him, as He used Paul and the other apostles, even in prison, to share the Gospel and bring others to Christ. Please also pray for his health, well-being, and that He would keep His eyes on Jesus. Of course, pray for His release, in Jesus’ way and timing. 
If you feel led, please also read, sign, and share this petition to Canadian officials, that they would seek negotiations with North Korea to free Pastor Lim. Thank you; Be blessed in Christ. 


Do you know Jesus?

The verse in Revelations 7, mentioned at the beginning of this post, is an incredibly powerful look at the future glory all believers will experience. Verse 10 describes something incredibly wonderful, and powerful:

After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, ‘Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!‘”
(Revelation 7:9-10, NIV)

 This description may sound odd or hard to understand, but truly, Jesus is the Lamb the great multitude is worshiping. 

2,000 years ago, Jesus, God in human flesh, came into the world to save mankind from sin’s power and eternal damnation– separation from God (2 Thessalonians 1:9). Why do we need saving, you might ask? We were all born, because of Adam and Eve’s decision to disobey God, with an innate sin nature; that is, our nature was poisoned by sin, making us evil from birth (Genesis 3:6; Psalm 51:5). God, being a God of Justice, could not let any sin go unpunished; therefore, mankind deserved to die for their sin (Ezekiel 18:20).

For centuries, God’s chosen people, the Israelites, paid for their own sin by the blood of birds, lambs, goats, and bulls, especially on “the Day of Atonement” (Leviticus 16). While this covered the sin of the people, God’s way, it did not remove the sin (Hebrews 10:4). “[But] God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). Although Jesus was perfectly sinless, “humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross,” becoming the ultimate sacrifice for the sins of all mankind (Hebrews 7:27). But He did not stay dead! No, He rose again, three days later (1 Corinthians 15:4). In doing so, he has forgiven the sins of any person who believes that He is God, and died for their sins– giving them the free gift of Eternal Life in heaven, with Him (Romans 6:23).

Jesus’ free gift to all mankind must be received to forgive and save a person, though.  The bible says we must “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved,” and “If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9). 

Do you want Jesus, the Perfect Lamb of God, to forgive and save you of your sin? If so, you can say a simple prayer to Jesus right now, like this one:

“Dear Jesus, I believe that You are God, and that You died on the cross for my sin. I believe You rose three days later, forever conquering sin and death, and gave the free gift of Eternal Life with You to all who believe. Lord Jesus, I have sinned against You in word and deed; and I need You to save me from my sins. Please, Lord Jesus, come into my life and be my Lord and Savior– and help me to live for You. In Jesus’ Name I pray, Amen.”

If you have truly and sincerely asked Jesus into your heart and life as Lord and Savior, congratulations!!! You have made the best, most important decision of your entire life– both for here, and after. The Bible says you are now a new creation in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17)! If you would like to tell me of what Christ has done in your life, and/or of your new decision, please click here!

Be truly blessed in your walk with Jesus! 🙂




Please pray for…
– The people of Chad, Cameroon, and Niger– 
both those displaced and citizens in the country.
Those in Internally Displaced Peoples’ (IDP) camps. Please pray that these men and women would hear the Gospel while in these places. Please also pray for their physical needs, and that they would be kept from harm and abuse.
– The governments of these countries. That their leaders would come to know Jesus Christ.
– Men and women all across the globe, especially in these nations, to rise up to spread the Gospel in these traumatized areas. Pray they would experience this call of Christ on their lives, and would be given all they need to answer it, including bravery.
– Pastors and other church leaders in these areas. Pray that these brave men would be upheld and strengthened to minister to those Christ has entrusted them with.
– Muslims and other nonbelievers in these areas. Pray they would come to know Christ Jesus as their Lord and Savior, and would have the blindfolds taken off their eyes, in a real way.
These countries’ militaries. Pray that members would come to know Christ, and that Christ would give them favor as they continue to fight Boko Haram alongside Nigeria.
– Boko Haram members. But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven…” (Matthew 5:44-45, NKJV). Please pray that these deceived people would know Jesus– and that the Boko Haram insurgency that they’re apart of would be annihilated.
The Chibok girls of Borno, Nigeria. Please pray that they are located, and rescued, very soon! As you are led, please read, sign, and share this petition, asking President Buhari to locate, and officially report, the whereabouts of the Chibok girls by the second anniversary of their kidnapping, April 14th, 2016.

Thank you for your prayers, and Jesus bless you. Let us not stop sharing Jesus with others until the whole world knows!

The Boko Haram: Finding Unmerited Mercy & Unbelievable Forgiveness

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

Crossing the Boundary Lines of Humanity: Bringing Others to the One True God

It was reported on December 13th that the Nigerian military, traditional hunters and vigilante groups won back the town of Mubi over a week ago. After weeks of rumors that the Nigerian military fled the fighting, for fear of the Boko Haram, this development is welcomed with joy! God is good, and He is moving!

Yet, as noted by the fact that the muslim Emir (ruler) of Mubi, Abubakar Isa Ahmadu, was escorted back into town by the military, there are many in the town of Mubi who still do not know Christ as their personal Lord and Savior. Many are still acknowledging Allah as the god responsible for their victory; yet, this is the very same Allah that the Boko Haram mercilessly slaughtered men, women and children in the name of.

Many muslims disagree; many will tell us that the Allah they believe in is a god of peace and love. I do not know everything about Islam, and I will not pretend to be well-versed in apologetics. However, I do know that there are many passages in the Qur’an which blatantly deny that Allah and Muhammad are a god and prophet of peace and love, as this website’s Qur’an passages will show you. Even in light of this, many muslims still believe in Allah and his prophet, Muhammad, nonetheless.

How is one supposed to react when they see people around them who worship such a false god as Allah? Are we to hate muslims, “guarding” ourselves against them while casting curses upon them?

The truth of the matter is, “No.” Just as any other nonbeliever, we must love muslims, not judging them for their religious or cultural affiliations but getting to know them on a personal, one-on-one level. Muslims are not just muslims, just as those who claim to be right-wing, conservative, American “Christians” have more to them than their religious and political beliefs. Every single person on this earth has a unique story, and a need to have Jesus’ saving grace be apart of that story. Every single person on this earth has a need for a saving relationship with God, not just mere religion “about” God.

This relationship-encounter with Jesus can be seen in the interaction Jesus had with the woman at the well in John 4.

“…Now [Jesus] had to go through Samaria. So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about noon.

When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, ‘Will you give me a drink?’ (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.)

The Samaritan woman said to him, ‘You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?’ (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.)

Jesus answered her, If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.’

Sir,’ the woman said, ‘you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his livestock?’

Jesus answered, Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.’

The woman said to him, ‘Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.’

He told her, ‘Go, call your husband and come back.’

I have no husband,’ she replied.

Jesus said to her, ‘You are right when you say you have no husband. The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.’

Sir,’ the woman said, ‘I can see that you are a prophet. Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.’

Woman,’ Jesus replied, ‘believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.’

The woman said, ‘I know that Messiah’ (called Christ) ‘is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.’

Then Jesus declared, ‘I, the one speaking to you—I am he.'”
(John 4: 4-26, NIV, “Jesus” mine)

Jesus, God-in-Man, did not refuse to speak to her because her walk of life was different than His own. He did something remarkable, even scandalous; He reached out to her, crossing and shattering the earthly dividing lines of religion, class, gender, reputation and ethnicity to share the good news of Himself with her. In Christ, none of these differences between ways of life lines exist; there is only those who are In Christ, and those who are Without Him (Galatians 3:28, NIV). For every knee and every tongue will confess His name as Lord, no matter their background– even death doesn’t keep them from bowing before the Lord (Philippians 2:10-11, NIV).

This concept of loving the unlovable can also be seen in the book of Jonah. Jonah, a man picked by the Lord to warn the wicked town of Nineveh to repent, ran from God’s call on his life because he didn’t want the city to experience repentance or God’s compassion. When he finally did obey the Lord, he saw all of Nineveh saved when they repented. This only goes to show that there is no one who is outside of God’s ability to love and save when they do repent and come to know Him as their Lord and Savior.

While we are called to befriend the “unlovable” and the non-believer, the only line we are called not to cross is where we compromise our love for Jesus, becoming “unequally yoked” with a nonbeliever (2 Corinthians 6:14, NIV). Our friendships are supposed to show others the light of Christ (Ephesians 5:8-9, NIV); if we are hiding our lamps under a basket, refusing to shine out to our friends, there will only be more darkness.

This line between loving those that our culture may hate and compromising our beliefs can be hard to not cross. But with constant, prayerful reflection, getting to know and love others who may be called unlovable– those who may not know Christ– can reap a bountiful harvest. This is needed now more than ever in Northern Nigeria, and truly, all over the world.
Because of all this, we pray.


Please pray that Christ would continually show Christians in Mubi (and all over Northern Nigeria) how to better love and serve those non-believers around them.
Pray that our brothers and sisters would find comfort in Christ, the God of All Comfort
(2 Corinthians 1:3-5, NIV). Pray that this comfort would overflow out of our brothers and sisters and into the hearts and lives of non-believers, so that Christ may be known as the God of All Comfort for them, too.
Pray that believers in Nigeria would reach out in friendship to those in the surrounding community, so that they may come to know Him as their Lord and Savior.
Pray that the dividing lines of humanity would be crossed in the name of Christ, not only in Northern Nigeria, but all over the world and in our own lives as well.
Pray this so that all people may know just how loved and valued they are by Christ, no matter who they are or where they come from.

In Christ, there reason for true joy– because in Christ, both the Muslim and the Christian are worth dying for.

“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.