More Than an Afterthought | The Stories of 7 Chibok Girls

It’s been 1331 days since the Chibok school girls were kidnapped.

1331 days ago, 276 school girls, on the precipice of going onto higher education, were kidnapped, stolen instead of supplies (source).

But for all this, these young women– 113 freed, and 163 still within Boko Haram’s clutches– are more than numbers. They are more than percentages, more than statistics, and more than a headline in a news story. They can be these things (being quote more than numbersaware of the numbers and statistics and news stories is not wrong), but they are more than these things.

Think of all of the numbers, all of the statistics, you are apart of. Perhaps an illness makes you a statistic. Or a job, or an interest, or a life experience. Even just who you are can label you, and make you a number to be calculated.

But to Jesus, you are more than a number. You are more than an afterthought. To Jesus, you– and each and every one of these kidnapped girls– are deeply and perfectly Loved.

I deeply believe that these wonderful girls’ stories deserve to be told– making them more than just a number, and celebrating their lives as a testament to Jesus’ Love and creativity in making them. While one cannot relay the stories of each and every one of these girls, I have strived to learn what I can about some of these different girls, sharing just a little bit of their story here with you as a resource for prayer.



 

lydia final 1Lydia Pogu: Lydia is also one of the Chibok girls who were able to become free, by jumping from a moving vehicle of Boko Haram’s soon after she was kidnapped. After running away from Boko Haram, Lydia was reached out to by the Jubilee Campaign centered in Virginia, which connected them to Mountain Mission School in Grundy, Virginia, in 2014. Lydia later attended Canyonville Christian Academy in 2016, where the US Government covered her full tuition to the private Christian academy (source). She planned to go to Southeastern University in Florida this past fall; I assume that is where she currently is. Lydia was able to meet US President Donald Trump on June 27th, 2017, along with her friend and fellow “Chibok girl,” Joy Bishara. You can see the picture, here. According to People Magazine, Lydia would like to become a lawyer, to help those who have no voice (source).

Sa'aSa’a: Sa’a (a pseudonym she uses for her safety) spoke to NPR almost a year ago about her story, how she got free, and what she is doing now. Now most likely 21 years old, Sa’a jumped from another moving vehicle of Boko Haram’s, along with her friend. After both her and her friend got help from a nearby shepherd, they were taken back to their families. US Congressman Christ Smith came to Nigeria to learn about what happened; after hearing Sa’a’s friend’s story, Smith told Sa’a’s friend that she should come to America to study, because she was not safe to study in the area where she currently was. Sa’a’s friend did not want to study abroad without her; and while Sa’a was terrified of going back to school at first, she decided to go with her friend, after being encouraged to study in the USA. She had planned to start college in January of 2017, and I assume that is where she is at, now. She told NPR that she wants to study medicine.

lugwaLugwa Sanda: Lugwa Sanda was one of the 21 girls who were initially freed in a high-up negotiation, that took place in October of 2016. She was brought by the Nigerian government to the Women Development Center, by the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs, to be rehabilitated and re-integrated into society. When told that she, and others, were going to go to Abti Academy– a school close to where Boko Haram has recently staged attacks– Lugwa protested by trying to take her own life. She drank a huge amount of a household chemical named Jik during the night. Although she suffered damage to her bodily organs, Lugwa is still alive, and was taken to the hospital belonging to the Deparment of Security Services in Abuja, Nigeria (source). Upon researching how she is doing now, I have yet to find anything. If any details emerge, I will try to keep you updated.

rebeccaRebecca Mallum: Rebecca Mallum is one of the 21 Chibok girls who were freed on October 13th, 2016. Rebecca, a Christian young woman, was/is also apart of the same rehabilitation/re-integration program that Lugwa is currently apart of. Last Christmas, Rebecca Mallum was able to see her loved ones, and told CNN that she feels both “beautiful and grateful” for being able to be free, and for being able to see her family, once again (source).

debbie 2Debbie: Although her last name has not been made public, Debbie was one of the 57 Chibok girls who ran away from Boko Haram early on in the Chibok school girls’ kidnapping. After becoming free, Debbie was sponsored by a charity program in Nigeria to go to a prestigious, American International high school in Washington D.C. She went with her friend and fellow Chibok girl, who goes by the name of Grace. Debbie spent her junior and senior years of high school there, and Debbie graduated from her prestigious international high school in the summer of 2017.

graceGrace: Grace was also one of the 57 Chibok school girls who fled from their captors soon after their kidnapping. Along with Debbie, Grace attended a prestigious, American International high school in Washington, D.C. for her junior and senior (11th and 12th grade) years. She graduated from this high school in the summer of 2017, as well, and gained recognition for being “The Most Hardworking Student” in her English as a Second Language Class, Reading Level 3 (source).

joyJoy Bishara: Much like Lydia Pogu, Joy Bishara also fled Boko Haram by jumping off of a moving vehicle. She was also able to go to school in the US with Lydia, through help from the Jubilee Campaign. She attended both a school in Grundy, Virginia, as well as a Canyonville Christian Academy in 2016, from which she graduated high school. She is now going to Southeastern University to study for becoming a doctor. “What I want to do is save lives,” she told People Magazine, here.



Luke 1:49 says, “for the Mighty One has done great things for me– holy is his name.”

“for the Mighty One has done great things for me– holy is his name.”
(Luke 1:49, NIV)

Researching each of these amazing young women’s stories filled me with awe, wonder, and tears of both joy and pain for them. My heart wrenches for young women like Lugwa Sanda, who are still reeling in deep fear and PTSD from their past experience with Boko Haram, wanting never to re-live that horrific tragedy, again. While there is no doubt that each of these young women have a lot of healing ahead of them, it has been absolutely crazy to me that Jesus has sustained them to live another day, even after all that has happened to them. It encourages me to pray for them– and to see the ways Jesus is restoring me and moving in my own life. I pray it has done the same for you.

Please continue praying for these young women, and please pray for the 269 other Chibok girls whose stories I have yet to know and tell here, on this blog. After all, “Our God is an awesome God,” and He can, most certainly, do anything.



Do you know Jesus?

You are not an afterthought to Jesus. In fact, you were the reason He came down to earth.

Christ knows your story. I’d even venture to say He knows it better than you do. Christ did not just die for the whole of humanity; He died for you, personally.
Whether you know Him personally right now or not, His Perfect Love for you remains the same, and He longs to have a relationship with you that is both close and personal, a relationship that brings Him Glory, and you wholeness.

Jesus Loves you perfectly, deeply, and uniquely– and He proved it on the cross. Learn more about what Jesus did– and how much He Loves you– here.



Please pray for…

  • Debbie. Please pray for the season of life she is in right now; that she would make Jesus her Lord and Savior, and follow Him where He leads her. Pray she would experience Jesus’ Love and Healing in her, and her family’s, lives.
  • Grace (the girl spoken about in this post). Please pray that she would draw near to Jesus, and would let Him heal the places within her and her family’s hearts, minds, and souls that are seemingly irreparably broken.
  • Lydia Pogu. Please pray that she would know Jesus, and that He would light her heart on fire for loving those around her, by sharing the Gospel. Pray for blessings in her studies, and for wholeness for her and her family.
  • Joy Bishara. Please pray that she, too, would follow Jesus, and that He would use her to save the lives of many others, as she has said she desires. Please pray for her studies at Southeastern University, and that Jesus would help her and her family through any problems she is experiencing.
  • Lugwa Sanda. After trying to take her own life, please pray for Lugwa Sanda’s healing and wholeness– mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Pray that Jesus would conquer the darkness and demons trying to pull Lugwa down, and that He would use her mightily for His Kingdom. Pray she and her family would be blessed with Love, Courage, and Support from those around her, as she continues to heal and recover.
  • Rebecca Mallum. Please pray that she continues to heal, and is able to continue to see and be with her family and loved ones. May Jesus bless this beautiful young lady, inside and out!
  • Sa’a. That Sa’a would come to know Jesus, and that her dreams of helping others by studying medicine would be able to be fulfilled, if He wills for that to happen. Please pray for her  and her family’s own healing, as well.
  • For the rest of the Chibok girls, in all. Pray that those in captivity would be free, soon; and that those free would find the freedom, healing, and courage to share their own stories, as these seven girls have.

May these girls never stop dreaming.
Thank you for your prayers!!!

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Coming to Know Christ at Ramadan

One pastor once said that to truly give Jesus’ way, it takes spiritual discernment to know what the real underlying need is. So it is with what is happening in this season of Ramadan, currently being heavily observed in the unstable region of Northern Nigeria. This article, by the Premium Times, says that the Yobe State government has been giving out food to muslims observing Ramadan, a time of fasting, where one does not eat the whole entire day, but is able to eat after the sun goes down (source).

In a statement made by Ali Abubukar, the chair of the state’s committee on Reconstruction, Rehabilitation and Resettlement of Boko Haram victims, Abubukar said that “The supply will bring succour and alleviate the dire need of the people, which is food” (source). While Abubukar is correct in that physical hunger is a real, dire need for those in Northern Nigeria, the truth is, those celebrating Ramadan have an even deeper, more dire, spiritual hunger: a hunger for the Truth– the Truth that is only found in Jesus Christ.

During the time of Ramadan (about a month), many muslims will fast from food and will fight against their own sins, such as swearing and lying. They do this to spend more time in intense prayer, commanded to attend five different prayer times per day. Many times, the Qur’an is read before their meal time in the evening. This time is meant to spur on more religious devotion for muslims, and while it may do just that, Ramadan (or IT TAKES THEM FARTHER AWAY FROM HIManyone’s own works), apart from Christ, does not get anyone closer to the real, Living God.

In fact, it takes them farther away from Him– or from finding Him, rather. 

Obedience, Not Sacrifice

This idea– of giving sacrifice, i.e., doing religious works instead of obeying Christ, the Living God, is found in the story of Samuel 15. In the story, King Samuel was commanded by God to kill ALL of the Amalekites, including women and children, as well as every animal belonging to them.

While this seems like a horrible, heartless order, it can be understood when one realizes how evil the Amalekites actually were. Since the time the Israelites had become a people group, liberated from Egypt, the Amalekites– known by many as “The Plunderers”– attacked those Israelites that were “lagging behind,” which were most likely the women and children (source). They attacked the Israelites many times, mercilessly causing much pain and anguish for many people. With this in mind, Christ commanding that the Amalekites be annihilated was for good reason.

But, sadly, King Saul did not completely obey Christ concerning some of His most important instructions– and disobeyed Christ completely, in Samuel 13:5-14, when he burnt sacrifices Samuel was meant to burn. In Samuel 15, Saul did not annihilate all of the Amalekites; instead, he only killed “everything that was despised and weak” (1 Samuel 15:9).

This major sin not only caused more years of pain for Israel, but it cost King Saul his kingdom. Full of pride, King Saul tried to justify his sin; but in the end, he knew he was wrong, and almost flippantly asked Samuel to forgive his sin, so that he could go back and worship the LORD (1 Samuel 15:25). But by then, it was too late. His kingdom was obeyingripped away from him, all because he chose to disobey, justifying it with sacrifice.

Relationship, Not Regulation

But Ramadan is all about obedience, one might say. Sure, it is, but one of the main things that can be learned from this passage in Samuel 15 is that God is not some dead or distant Deity that can be appeased with some sacrifice. He is a relational God, a God who is indeed Living– and wants His children to obey Him. It was Jesus Himself who said,

“If you love me, keep my commands.”
(John 14:15, NIV)

The fact that Christ wants us to obey Him, as one obeys a Loving Father, shows His Followers that they are not just following a dead religion– one only of sacrifice and works– but are following a very Real and Living God; one of Love, desiring a Personal Relationship with all people, as evidenced by what John described Jesus doing in John 1:10-13).

Faith, Not Works

This is not to say that Christians fasting and praying are a bad practice– in fact, they are wonderful for drawing near to Christ (Matthew 6). But let one thing be clear: People are not saved by obedience to Christ; they are saved by Grace, through Faith, not of works, lest any man should boast (Ephesians 2:8-9). All one must do to be saved is to believe in Jesus Christ and what He did on the cross for their sin, receiving His gift of salvation, and entering into the personal relationship that He offers. This God is real: salvation2unfathomably more real than any god that demands mere obedience and a set of works-based self-righteousness to approach them with for salvation, or even a chance at salvation.

This Ramadan, one thing is true: God does not want mere obedience, or a set of rules and standards to be met, as is found in islam. He wants a real, personal relationship with those who have placed their faith in Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior. As believers in this amazing God, let us pray that those practicing Ramadan in Northern Nigeria, and all other religions, would find Christ, and that He would “succour and alleviate the dire need of the people,” which is truly the need of Him.

If you are a muslim– or are any sort of religion/belief system, but have not accepted Jesus Christ as your Personal Lord and Savior, the Only One who can save you from your sins– come to Him today. Let Him set you free, as you draw close to Him: not by your own works, but by His Work for you, on the cross.

It is Jesus whom we truly hunger and thirst after, even if we do not realize it. Let’s come to Him, as we are, today. 🔹 



Do you know Jesus?

“Who is this Jesus?” one might ask. Some see Him as a revered Prophet; some see Him as a fool, the butt of all their jokes. But I encourage you, whether you know personally or not, to ask yourself that question.

Jesus asked His Disciples this question about Himself.

“‘But what about you?’ he (Jesus) asked. ‘Who do you say I am?’
Simon Peter answered, ‘You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.’
Jesus replied, ‘Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. 
And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it'”
(Matthew 16:15-18, NIV, “(Jesus)” mine)

Peter replied that Jesus is the Messiah– The Leader or Savior of the Jews and Gentiles alike (Romans 10:12), and He was right. Read more about, and meet with, this promised Messiah, here.


Please pray for…

Those currently practicing islam. Pray that even now, especially in the wake of the various islamic terrorist attacks happening all over the world, that muslims would come to know Jesus Christ.

That Ramadan would be a time where many muslims become saved. It is a time of heightened spiritual awareness; please pray that Jesus would call to these people during Ramadan, and that they would come to Him. ❤

That Christians would not be afraid of loving and telling others about the Gospel, worldwide, but especially in places with many muslims, such as Northern Nigeria and the Middle East.

That those experiencing hunger and thirst in Northern Nigeria would be fed– and would come to know Jesus, the Bread of Life, in the process.

There are still 113 Chibok girls left to be freed, as Ramadan has started. Please pray for these young women, that they would be de-brainwashed or de-radicalized, and would be freed physically– but also in every sense of the word.

Thank you so much for your prayers. To all Americans, have a Happy Memorial Day Weekend! 🙂