Where I’m At: Being Led by the Holy Spirit

Hi guys, I hope your thanksgiving was great!

I just wanted to honestly write about where I’m at right now, and what the Holy Spirit has been showing me.

Lately, I have felt more and more like this blog is a chore. More of a duty than a passion, more of just something to get done instead of something to invest in and enjoy. I have come face to face with these feelings, leaving me in tears and asking Jesus why it feels this way, again (it has happened multiple times).

Call it what you want—getting burnt out on ministry, becoming legalistic. But one thing the Lord showed me is that I always get this way when I am trying to do things in my own power, according to my own understanding. When I do this, writing for the blog feels heavy, burdensome, and oppressive.

I need the Holy Spirit to work in and through me on this blog—or else it is no longer the Spirit’s work, and is just the rambling of some legalistic girl.

I need to allow Jesus to lead, guide, and work through me on here, or I will always get burnt out.

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Jesus’ yoke is easy; His burden is light (Matthew 11:28-30). I’m the one making it heavy.

As I continue blogging here on this blog, please pray that I would do so by God’s leading and power—and that my passion for simply praying over these Chibok girls and other prayer requests would remain hot instead of growing cold. Thanks, friends.

In Love,

Annalee

People Set Free!!!

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens…
(Ecclesiastes 3:1, NIV)

I am happy to report that on February 10th, 2017, two professors and one person who was a driver for the University of Maiduguri were released from Boko Haram captivity, as well as ten women who were taken captive by Boko Haram in July of 2017!!!

I can only imagine it… the taste of freedom, breathing the air with free lungs– looking up at the sun and moon and knowing that you– at least, not physically– are no longer in a place of darkness and fear.

It is always beautiful, good news to hear that someone has been set free. It is a sigh of relief, a smile on the face; sweet tears streaming down the cheeks, and a heart bursting with Joy.

Friends, on the eve of Valentine’s Day 2018, this is what happened to me. Weighed down with a seemingly unexplained heaviness, full of anger and a pride that said “I deserve God’s Love and Acceptance because I’m doing x, y, and z,” I went to a Bible study from Lysa TerKeurst about how Jesus is the Water of Life. About how He decided to go into “enemy terrority”– as God, becoming human flesh, and then as a Jew, heading into Samaria (the land of the Jew’s enemies, the Samaritans), just so that He could tell one woman that He was the One her heart had been waiting for (John 4). How did I come out of this Bible study? Filled with the sense that Jesus, just as He spoke to this unloved woman, wanted to speak to me.

I realized things about myself that were hidden deep— things I had not thought about or let myself feel for years. Through tears, cries, and a profound leading of the Holy Spirit, the lies that had caused my heart to grow cold with fear and legalism were replaced with Truth: that I am not under Jesus’ wrath. That the deep pain my own sin caused years ago was nailed to the cross at Calvary. That I am free.

And so I write this today, looking at the physical freedom these people have– and am truly blessed to know that our God delights in setting people free. 

As the wonderful Lysa Terkeurst has said, “[Jesus] is a God who knows women, and who knows trauma.” And as I look at this blog, I see this as a Truth that has been proven time and time again! He is our Rescuer, a God of Order, compassionately passionate about each and every person who has ever lived. And He reaches out to each and every one of us.

As we celebrate the fact that 13 people were set free from the violent, bounding, fearful captivity of Boko Haram– and the dead religious system it belongs to, let us not also forget those who still need to become free: the remaining 112 young women, held captive for simply going to school. 

It has been reported that these Chibok girls are being negotiated for, and this shred of seemingly solid, trusty news fills my heart with a ray of Hope– a ray of Hope that not all is lost, that maybe not everything (like the video from Boko Haram) is what it seems, and most of all, that Jesus– this God who sets people free– is above it all. I have no idea of what He’s doing, or how He’s doing it. All I know is that HE IS. 

And no matter what happens– through the Joy, or through the pain– I know who He is, and I trust Him; and that is all I need to know.

I leave you with this question: Where are you in your relationship with Jesus? Where have you kept the Lord out of, for way too long? He will shed His Light upon it. But it is not to shame you; it is to free you. Invite Him in, today; rest in the Truth that you are set free.

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This blog post is dedicated to the 17 people senselessly killed by a mass school shooter in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, in Parkland, Florida on February 14th, 2018. May Jesus be with these people and guide the country forward.



Do you know Jesus?

Around 2,000 years ago, Jesus stepped down from a perfect, painless existence in heaven, enjoying unhindered fellowship with God the Father and the Holy Spirit, to live in a sin-filled, wicked world, and to die in the most excruciating way possible. The crazy part of all of this? Jesus, God in human flesh, did it FREELY– He had all of the freedom in the world, and yet He CHOSE to die, under the wrath and punishment of God, and bearing every mistake and sin we have ever made (1 Peter 2:24; Isaiah 53:6; Hebrews 10:8-9).

For you. For me. Personally.

So that we would never have to.

Because He Loves you

Learn more about this wonderful God, His Love for you, and what it all means, here.


Prayer Requests (print out a “Prayer Points” sheet here):

  • Praise Jesus for the AMAZING work He is doing– the work that we can see, and the work that we can’t see!
  • Please pray for all of the Chibok girls; that Jesus would help those who are still reeling from being taken out of captivity, and for those who are still in captivity.
  • That Jesus would FREE those who are stuck in darkness– that all those in Northeast Nigeria, including even Boko Haram, would come to know Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.
  • That those affected by the evil mass shooting that occurred on February 14th, 2018 would come to know Jesus Christ through it– and that Jesus would lead our leaders to make wise decisions to protect people from a tragedy like this.

“For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”
(Colossians 1:13-14, NLT)

Thank you for your prayers!!!

Not Against Flesh and Blood: Praying for Boko Haram Members

On the evening of Tuesday, November 8th, 2016, bomb blasts went off in the Golori area, near Mamanti, in Maiduguri, Nigeria. These bombs were attached to two men: members of the terrorist group, Boko Haram. Whether by force or choice, these people were killed instantly by the blast, killing two others with them, and injuring six (source).

While Maiduguri, and Northeastern Nigeria, for that matter, has seen a definite decrease in suicide bombings as of late, the fact that they are still going on– even if they only come to injure one other person– shows that the deceptive ideology of Boko Haram, and, heartbreakingly, of muslims everywhere, is far from being extinguished.

These men, women, and children either make the choice, or are coerced into such self-and-mass destruction. They are usually viewed by non-Boko Haram (BH) members as evil, contemptible, and worthy of their fate. While these people have torn apart the lives of countless innocent people around them, and are extremely evil, it is very important for discerning Believers to also see their true state. These sad, cowardly, disgusting individuals, at their core, are being pitifully– and fatally– deceived by the enemy, by the world, and by themselves. The amount of spiritual deception, darkness, and desperation these people are under is cause for immense, fervent prayer.

Judgment & Mercy

The statement made above is not to be said lightly, without remembering the absolute chaos and murder they have committed. “Don’t these people deserve what they have been ‘dishing out’?” many would ask. Yes, they completely do; that is the Just answer. But, when seen from Christ’s point of view, it becomes clearly evident that while these people need firm judgment, Christ actually longs to give them Mercy.

“‘Cast away from you all your transgressions which you have committed and make yourselves a new heart and a new spirit! For why will you die, O house of Israel? 32 ‘For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone who dies,’ declares the Lord GOD. ‘Therefore, repent and live‘” (Ezekiel 18:31-32, NASB). In the midst of fair and upright judgment against the Israelites, God’s cry for their repentance is clear: while they deserved the wrath coming upon them, Christ’s heart for them was to be saved by turning away from their evil ways, and turning towards Him. These profoundly urgent words are the very Words of God, and show His very heart for mankind, even today.

Praying for Boko Haram Members

How are Believers even to begin praying for enemies like Boko Haram, when they have done so much damage, and continue, almost hellbound, in their ways? It is vital that one recognizes the spiritual warfare going on, spurring BH members on in their violence. Ephesians 6 is very clear about the warfare happening for every soul: “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 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” (Ephesians 6:10-12, NIV).

With this in mind, the best fighting is truly done on our knees, in prayer for BH members. Here are some key prayer points to consider, when praying for Boko Haram members. Whether some are common sense or are points you may have not considered yet, it is always good to be reminded of such things.

  1. For the terrorists of Boko Haram to become saved. While this point may seem redundant, it is all too important to leave out.Again, this is not written lightly, or without realizing the complete and utter horror these men have caused. The members of Boko Haram definitely deserve God’s complete wrath, including going to hell.
    But, biblically speaking– and this is said with the utmost care– we are all deserving of God’s wrath, no matter how “good” or “bad” one is. Ephesians 2:1-5 addresses this hard-to-swallow truth.As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.”
    (Ephesians 2:1-5, NIV)At one time, all Believers– even the most zealous, “good,” law-abiding Believers– deserved the wrath of God, including going to hell. No matter how “good” one is in their own eyes, they need Christ as their Lord and Savior; there is no other way. At the core, the members of BH have never experienced the Love of God, His Forgiveness, or the Freedom He brings. Despite their evil, without being saved, these people– these souls– have no chance at a future spent with the One, True, God of the Universe, who Loves them perfectly and dearly.

    Which brings up a second important aspect of praying for BH Members:

  2. For the BH terrorists (and truly, terrorists all over the world) to realize how much Jesus, the One, True, Living God, LOVES them. 1 John 4:10 declares God’s Love for people, perfectly:

    “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.”
    (1 John 4:10, NIV)

    It’s incredibly important to realize that Christ was pursuing us, His people, long before His people ever started desiring and accepting, much less pursuing, Him. This throws the concept of works-based religion, including Islam, out of the window. Religion tells the adherent to “do,” so that God might accept them as “Holy” or “Righteous” enough; but, “For at just the right time, while we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God proves His love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:6-8, NIV). When Christ died, He did everything needed for Believers to come to God, being completely saved by grace, through faith (Ephesians 2:8). There is nothing one must do– or cannot do, for that matter– to gain this salvation. All they must do is accept the gift of what Jesus did on the cross.Experiencing, and realizing, the Love, Grace, and Goodness of God, and accepting Him as Lord and Savior, is the only thing that can truly transform people, even BH members.

  3. For Christians in and around Northern Nigeria to stand for Christ, and to be a light in the darkness.

    For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, ‘Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’ 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? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!‘”
    (Romans 10:12-15, NIV)

    Christ has called us “the light of the world,” “a town on a hill,” and a “light” that must be put on a stand (Matthew 5:14-16). In such spiritual darkness as the kind that has been fueling Boko Haram, Christians have the One, True, Living God living within them, and can fight back against the darkness through prayer, outreach, and bringing people to Christ. Without being overly focused on spiritual warfare, whenever one tries to be a light in the darkness, there is inevitably “pushback.” The terror, complete desolation, and isolation so many Christian Nigerians are facing (especially those who are refugees) are leaving them vulnerable to any attack, be it physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual. Now, more than ever, those who are Christ’s “soldiers” must put on their spiritual armor, and gather together against the enemy.This is no more true than for those who are closest to BH members: BH captives. Just as Christ, through Paul, brought a guard to Himself while Paul was in prison (Acts 16:22-35), encamped in captivity, with BH members as their guards, Christian Nigerians may be given opportunities by Christ to show their faith in Christ. They are able to testify of Jesus’ Power, Love, Grace, and Mercy– things that some BH members may have never heard of before. Even in suffering, our brothers and sisters can be a bright light, empowered by the Holy Spirit to clash with the darkness around them.

  4. In all, for the Holy Spirit to move these people to come to know Jesus.

    Passages like Revelation 19, John 14, and John 16 clearly describe who the Holy Spirit is, and what He does. “…Worship God! For it is the Spirit of prophecy who bears testimony to Jesus‘” (Revelation 19:10, NIV). John 14 describes the Holy Spirit as the God who “teaches everything and helps [us] to remember everything that Jesus said,” while John 16 says He will convict the world of sin, and lead Believers into all Truth, telling them what He has heard (from the Father, as read in John 16:8, 13). He will tell us what is yet to come; and, most importantly, will “glorify me [Jesus] because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you” (John 16:14).
    Knowing the importance of the Holy Spirit in our lives, it becomes clear that without being empowered by Jesus, we can do nothing of eternal significance (John 15). This is completely true when sharing the Gospel. Paul says, “I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow” (1 Corinthians 3:6, NIV). While Believers may plant the seed in a BH member’s heart, only the Holy Spirit can lead that person to a Saving relationship with Jesus Christ. Let us pray that the Holy Spirit would be stirring in their hearts and minds, as we speak!

 

Conclusion

There are countless things that need to be prayed for, when it comes to Boko Haram, including its destruction. But, as we look at the individual, darkened souls that make up Boko Haram, their need for Salvation and Transformation becomes clear. Whatever it takes– be it their physical surrender, or even their deaths– may these men, women, and children come to realize their need for Christ, and accept His gift of Salvation, readily.



Do you know Jesus?

“When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.‘”
(John 8:12, NIV)

It goes without question, that this entire world is incredibly dark. Whether or not terrorists are ravaging the world you live in, there is always a spiritual battle going on, for the souls of those who don’t know Christ (Ephesians 6:12).

For centuries, men had been living in darkness, trying to follow the rules and regulations set forth by God, through Moses, perfectly. Through all of our trying, we only become all the more cold in the process, as seen by the Pharisees (Matthew 23). But these rules and regulations were not evil in and of themselves; rather, they were a shadow of the One to come, who would fulfill them all. In the end, the Law shed light on the fact that mankind needed One to do what they could not: obey the law perfectly, and save them from the sin they had committed.

Think about the properties and power of sunlight. Jesus, being God Himself, claimed to be “the Light of the world”– and promised that those who followed Him would not only have light to shine on their life path, but the light to feed, save, guide, heal, and warm them.

Jesus, the Light of the World, has come on the scene. Learn more about, and accept the Only Light of the World, here.


Please be praying with me…

Dear Father God,
We praise You, and we thank You, for who You are.
Thank You for coming down from heaven, into our dark world, and for considering us of so much value that You would die for our sins.

Father God,
We pray over the men, women, and children both held captive by, and actively in, Boko Haram. Even now, Father God, we pray that Your Gospel and Your Salvation would come to the souls of those in Boko Haram. Your Love is Stronger than even the worst hate or sin; Father, we pray that they would accept Your Salvation, and would become free to love You, and love others.

Father God,
We know they don’t deserve it– none of us truly do. But, King Jesus, we pray that You would let these people experience how much You Love them. Through their hardened, darkened hearts and minds, please shine the Light of Your Love, and transform them as only You can do. We pray that they would accept Your Forgiveness, and would be humbled to accept Your Gospel.

Father,
We also pray for our brothers and sisters in Northern Nigeria. We cannot fathom the hurt, the pain, and the terror they must feel. But Father God, we surround them, and come around them, and ask that You would strengthen Your people. Please be their Strength, their Refuge, and their Comfort. Please help them to stand, Oh Father God, together, against the enemy, and please give them opportunities to show even the horrible members of Boko Haram Your Love, in whatever form You will. Please give them the Boldness to do so. Thank You, Father God.

Father God,
Please pour Your Spirit out afresh on Your People in this country, and on all of Your People, all around the world. Please stir the hearts of those in Boko Haram, and show them their deep-seated need to know, and be saved, by You.
Holy Spirit, please help all of us to plant the seeds of Your Gospel– and trust that ultimately, YOU will make them to grow, not us.

Father God,
Please continue to hold, and help, those who have been so wounded by Boko Haram. As refugees, victims, and captives, please bring them spiritual freedom, in You, and show them that You alone are all they need.

We thank You for all of this, Father God!

In Jesus’ Name I pray,

Amen.

Hope in 2016: How the Church can #BringBackHisGirls

The year of 2015 was one of many new beginnings for the country of Nigeria. Some of the biggest ones were:

  • The election of Muhammadu Buhari as president of Nigeria. In March of 2015, after delaying election day by six weeks due to national security and Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) preparedness worries, General Buhari won out against Goodluck Jonathan, the president at the time. At the time of his election, men and women alike celebrated the victory, ushering Buhari in with the sounds of shouts, songs, and chants proclaiming, “Change! Change!” and “Sai (Only) Buhari!”
  • Other positive changes abounded, too: the Nigerian army, along with the Multinational Joint Task Force, routed– and ruined– Boko Haram’s caliphate, pushing them into smaller territories of land, and degrading the insurgency’s offense to sporadic, soft-target suicide bombings (source).
  • Slum-like IDP camps, stuffed with displaced peoples from the insurgency in 2014, were investigated for human trafficking offenses; and, displaced peoples from many settlements in the foreign surrounding countries were encouraged to make their trek back home in the fall of 2015 (source).

In President Buhari’s live media chat on December 30th, 2015, many of these things, along with corruption and the economy, were all discussed, but there was one subject whose lack of information– truly, lack of change–  was cause for disappointment.

For every victory stated above, there is still one incredibly important cause that saw little to no physical developments in the year of 2015.

Over one year and 250 days later, 219 schoolgirls from Chibok, Nigeria– 219 individual hearts, minds, and souls– remain missing.

When asked about the girls’ well being, the answer is solemn.
“No credible information.” [1]

In all 365 days of the year 2015, the public has not seen or heard any truly verified updates regarding the girls. Yet, there is hope. 

Continue reading

Two is Better than One: The Courage to Forgive in Christ Alone

Edit: During the writing of this post, the Lord revealed one thing to me: while I was faithful in writing about many different prayer needs in Nigeria, Africa, and the people of it, I’ve been silent– both online and, sadly, in real life– on the many CRAZY, SIMPLY AWE-INSPIRING things Christ has done over the past year or so, especially in the last few months!!! Here I’ve been, praying for the freedom of the Chibok girls and the many other captives of the Boko Haram, but I haven’t spent time REJOICING in the fact that nearly 700 WOMEN AND GIRLS HAVE BEEN RESCUED BY THE NIGERIAN MILITARY FROM BOKO HARAM!!! This freedom is beautiful– more beautiful than one could express with words, though I pray the Lord gives me the words to sufficiently express it. Take some time today to PRAISE JESUS FOR THE AMAZING WAYS HE HAS ANSWERED PRAYER!!! Praise Him! Hallelujah!


The fights, long-held grievances and under-the-breath comments erupted into a riot like a domestic natural gas explosion. While the community seemed fine enough on the surface, just as natural gas has little to no visible qualities, one could sense the tension in the air: in the hot, arid heat of April, the scent– and sense– of violence could be noticeably felt and smelt. Continue reading

By the Holy Spirit’s Power: Defeating Fear & Boko Haram

They are the many unsung, unseen forces in the Nigerian military. Women– mothers, daughters, respected leaders in Nigerian society– have given their safety and comfort to fight the evil that is the Boko Haram insurgency. Though almost unheard of when speaking about the military, women make up a good amount of the country’s militia and are an active part of the fight against terrorism. Yet, in an attitude of apprehension and even slight panic, Nigeria has decided to remove more than 200 of its women soldiers from the frontlines of Maiduguri city to the country’s capitol, Abuja. Continue reading

“Hephzibah”: In Search of True Identity

A pastor once told my Young Adult’s group something along the lines of the sentiment “You can only come to know who you truly are when you come to know who Christ truly is.” 

At the time, it was exactly what I needed to hear. I have seemingly always known Christ as my Lord and Savior, having been raised in the church, but I had made God out to be a God who was angry with me, a God who either was pleased because “I did good” or was displeased because I disobeyed or “didn’t do enough.” Due to this, I suffered from some seriously low self-esteem, OCD-like attitudes, and being overly critical of myself and others. Because I didn’t see God for who He’s shown Himself to be through His Word– that is, as the God who is quick to forgive, slow to anger, and abounding in grace and mercy, as stated in Exodus 34:6— I beat myself up for things that the Lord only wanted me to accept His grace and goodness in.

Needless to say, how a person views God affects every aspect of how they view themselves, other people, and the world around them. A distorted, non-biblical view of God can have huge consequences. Reading about the recent attack by female suicide bombers in Maiduguri, Nigeria, this could be no closer to the truth. On November 25th, 2014, 2 young women entered a busy marketplace in Maiduguri, screaming, and detonated their bombs, killing 30 people while injuring countless others. This attack is not an isolated incident; at least 2 other attacks of the same kind, involving female suicide bombers, have occurred since the 267 young girls from Chibok, Nigeria, were kidnapped in April. And with reports that three teenage girls from Colorado, USA tried traveling to Turkey to join ISIS, the concept of a self-identity in sight of God’s identity is an ever more pressing idea that needs to be brought to light.

What could make young, teenage girls want to join such horrific terrorist groups such as Boko Haram and ISIS? Many experts have stated that these groups portray themselves as a brotherhood fighting a holy war, creating a false sense of family; the idea of belonging to something greater can be, and has been, alluring for many young girls who feel like outcasts in their own communities. Looking for Truth, for love, for acceptance, and for identity, these young girls fall into the trap that the enemy uses frequently: trying to find belonging in the world outside of Christ. Because many of these young girls are Muslim to begin with, it can be all too easy for them join extremist groups that offer a completely fake version of the truth, love, and acceptance that they– and truly, all of us– are craving.

Jesus didn’t claim to only point to the way, the truth, or the life; He claimed to BE the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Only Jesus can offer us true identity in Him; how He sees us is THE most important thing in the universe. The apostle Paul declares this truth in Galatians:

“Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.” 
Galatians 1:10, NIV

When Christ is the one whom we’re living for, we know who we are in Him, stated in 1 Peter: “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light” (1 Peter 2:9, NIV). As people, we can try to form our own identity, but there can never be a true sense of self, of being loved, and of acceptance from God until we accept Christ Jesus as our Personal Lord and Savior.

Because of this, my heart goes out to these young men and women being told by the enemy that ISIS and Boko Haram offer something only Christ can offer. It’s heart-wrenching to know that what all these people want can be simply found in Christ, but that He may be the last person and place they come to for it. It’s sickening to know that what they think is a hug is actually a punch in the gut, a slap in the face; that what many think will bring them life is the very thing that will bring them death. This applies to more than Muslim girls trying to join ISIS or the Boko Haram; this same concept applies to any and all people trying to find belonging outside of Christ.

When the Lord first put the Chibok girls upon my heart, He showed me through Isaiah 62:4 that He saw them as “Hephzibah”– the ones He delights in. Though we may forget their plight, He never will; though they may be shrouded in the darkness of black hijabs, forced to be married off, being harmed and injured in every evil way imaginable, they are not what they are going through, but are dearly loved by God. These men and women in the Boko Haram are just as loved as those in captivity. Coming to know Christ, these men and women can be transformed from hateful, death-filled supporters of Boko Haram and ISIS to beloved children of God, walking in Love, instead of the heartless, destructive paths they’ve been walking in (Ephesians 5:1-2). If only these young women knew Christ, they’d know that they are delighted in and very loved– not because of anything they’ve done, but because of what Christ did.


Pray with me today that the young women and girls who’ve voluntarily joined ISIS and Boko Haram (BH) would see ISIS and the BH for the evil, demonic power they really are. Pray that these people would come to see who God truly is, through the lens of Christ. Pray that they’d see the darkness separated from the light as they come to know Christ as their personal Lord and Savior.
Pray for our sisters in captivity, that the Lord would use them to bring others to Him by the power of His Holy Spirit; pray also that the Lord would soften the hearts of the Boko Haram leaders, and would place in them hearts of flesh as they come to know His great love– for it’s His great kindness alone that brings others to repentance (Romans 2:4, NIV). Pray not only for the girls seeking ISIS and BH as a place of belonging, but pray for all of those who are searching for meaning and belonging outside of Christ. Ask the Lord to put people on your heart to pray for and reach out to, to show the love and acceptance of Christ to. The world is looking for identity, and it is only truly found in Jesus’ arms.

Because in Christ Jesus, we are all named Hephzibah: Delighted In. Let us rejoice in this today, praying that more and more all over the Earth would take on this identity as well.

Freedom for Chibok: In the Lord’s Hands

PRAISE/ PRAYER REPORT:
It’s been reported that the 219 girls who are still missing have been married off. Pray that these girls would be found and brought back home, no matter what the headlines say! The Lord is working here.

It’s also been reported that as of November 16th, 2014, vigilante groups working alongside the Nigerian military have taken back the town of Chibok! Read more about it here. Continue to pray for the Nigerian military, the vigilante groups, and every man, woman and child involved in this warfare. Our prayers are being heard!
The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.
(James 5:16b, NIV)


On November 13th, 2014, the town of Chibok, Nigeria– the very same town these 219 kidnapped girls call their home– came under attack and was seized by the Boko Haram. What seems to be a very dire, hopeless situation, I challenge with a somewhat audacious hope, knowing that the Lord our God is a God who 1) is completely unfathomable in all His ways, and 2) is a God who means what He says, and says what He means.
All throughout scripture, it’s been shown that those in captivity are not forgotten by the Lord, but are actually very near and dear to His heart. Though we may forget them, He does not, and is mighty to act on their behalf.

When the Israelites were brought into exile by the Babylonians in 607-586 B.C., the entire world saw Israel and looked upon it as “Desolate” (Isaiah 62:4). The whole of Israel seemed to be abandoned by God, and was put to shame in the eyes of other nations. Despite all of this, the Lord was still at work, and was mighty to release Israel from their captivity in His timing, by His choosing. Though the circumstances differ between the Israelites and those in Northern Nigeria (Israel’s captivity was punishment for their sin; I would never even dare to say that the reasoning for Chibok’s captivity is the same), the same profound truth remains: The moments Jesus seemed to be most absent were the moments Jesus was the most near.

I understand that this information does not, and cannot, even begin to fully or truly comfort those who have lost all they know.
I understand that this information cannot dress every wound or heal the hearts affected by such horrible circumstances.
But I also understand that the Lord is with the men, women, and children of every town taken over by the Boko Haram, and that nothing– truly, nothing— can shock our God when it comes to the Boko Haram’s activities.

We cannot forget that though the Boko Haram has seemingly taken over various towns all over Northern Nigeria, these villages and towns are ultimately in the Mighty Hands of our Lord Jesus Christ. Not only are they in His hands, they are engraved in this hands.

 But Zion said, ‘The Lord has forsaken me, the Lord has forgotten me.’
Can a mother forget the baby at her breast 
and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; 
your walls are ever before me.”
Isaiah 49:14-16, NIV

Because these people and their lives are in the Sovereign hands of the Lord, hope can remain unshaken, and promises can continue to be looked forward to.


In light of all this, pray for all of our hurting brothers and sisters in Chibok. Pray that they would cry out to Christ and feel His overwhelming peace and nearness during such violent times, as is stated in Philippians:

 “…The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Philippians 4:5b-7, ESV

Pray that as this peace would indeed guard their hearts and minds infallibly as they continue to trust in Him. Pray for those who don’t know Christ in these captured towns, that the Holy Spirit would move in tremendous ways in and through His people to preach the Gospel, so that “in Christ Jesus [they] who once were far away [would be] brought near by the blood of Christ” (Ephesians 2:13, NIV). This time is a time of tremendous, heart-crushing pain and trial, but it is also a huge opportunity to love people in their most broken states, showing them the love of Christ and the truth of the Gospel in the process– pray that many opportunities would come to share Jesus with others– and that words “may be given [Christians in Nigeria] so that [they] will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel” (Ephesians 6:19, NIV). Pray that the Lord’s hand would be upon these girls, and that they’d be protected against any and all harm that is being perpetrated by these terrorists. Pray that the young girls who know Christ would be used by Him to bring their kidnappers to faith in Christ Jesus. 

Outside of these young men, women and children being taken care of and knowing the Lord, pray for the Nigerian military and the vigilante groups coming against the Boko Haram as they try to take back these cities; pray that they’d know Jesus, and that as they know Him, their morale would be strengthened to fight this fight with bravery, honor, and compassion for those who’ve been kidnapped. Pray that the corrupt, fickle nature of the Nigerian government would be brought to justice, and that as it’s brought to justice, these girls would be found alive and unharmed. Pray for justice for these broken families; that the Lord’s hand would move swiftly and powerfully on their behalf to take back their captured communities. 

In a place where there has been so much death, so much pain, and so much hopelessness, pray that the churches in Northern Nigeria would be fortified, upheld and strengthened by the Lord.

Pray that these young girls would know that they matter– that they haven’t been forgotten by the Lord, that salvation is near, and that their heartbreaking circumstances are held (and engraved!) in the Lord’s hands.

Because truly, no matter what happens, there is no better a place to be.

The Chibok Girls: Holding On to His Promises

On September 11th, 2014, news was made that Comrade Shehu Sani, President of the Civil Rights Congress of Nigeria, along with the Red Cross, started to join in talks with the Boko Haram to release 30 of the kidnapped women and girls from captivity in exchange for either 18 or 30 (mixed reports of both numbers have been published) of the Boko Haram’s key sect members, currently imprisoned by the Nigerian government. Negotiations going on to release the girls were suspended momentarily, due to disagreements between the government and the BH on the number of girls to be released. As the government wanted all of the girls freed for the 30 prisoners, the BH wanted to release them in a piecemeal matter, something that has frustrated negotiation attempts so far. The outcome is hopeful, but uncertain.
What seemed like a positive and progressive step towards the girls’ release was coupled and strengthened with the news that the Nigerian military, as well as vigilante groups fighting alongside the military, had won over attacks against the Boko Haram 35 km (22 miles) from Maiduguri— and in the process, killed one of the Boko Haram’s most feared commanders. On September 12th, it was reported that the Boko Haram’s leader, Abubukar Shekau, was killed during the fighting, though this report is also being incredibly questioned and found to be false. If it is true, the whole of Boko Haram may undergo serious changes in it’s effectiveness, level of violence, and military targets, as discussed in the above article.

With so much hope but yet so much uncertainty, it can be hard to stand firm and fast in the Lord’s promises
. And a midst many other huge events– both of joy and sorrow– happening in Nigeria, the encouragement and happiness created by these unsure yet promising circumstances led me to, in the quiet of my heart, wonder, “Is this it, Lord? Has the time come?”

“To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” (Colossians 1:27, NIV)

During this time, many truths, through hardship and trial, have been learned, one being this: that Christ, and not our circumstances, must be where our hope abides. Reading a headline can easily (and has easily) thrown me into states of excitement, confirmation and encouragement, while other times, they’ve discouraged and disappointed me greatly, making me almost to lose all hope. This disposition can change daily, and usually does; some days, every headline seems to speak of a firm hope in their rescue and in this conflict’s resolution, and other days, that hope can be completely wiped away with a few sentences.

Hanging on to headlines instead of the promises of God can and will wipe out hope, quickly. But more and more, relying upon the Hope of Christ in us and His promises, we can be unmoved in our hope no matter the circumstances. As Paul says in Hebrews 6:19, “…we who have taken refuge would have strong encouragement to take hold of the hope set before us. This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil, where Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us, having become a high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.” (NIV)

No matter what headlines say– as so many of them are flawed, and the news itself can be faulty, sadly– something that has comforted me up until this point, and continues to even here, is the fact that Christ is alive and at work in every circumstance. He is faithful. We can trust Him in all things.

To be honest, I’ve found myself asking if I truly believe they’ll be free, as I once did so many months ago. The words Christ so boldly and beautifully wrote upon my heart in June have now faded with life events being weaved in, over and around those promises, making them to fade and turn rusty. My mind, body, heart and soul find it hard to keep from being dry, apathetic, and even bitter.

If I am brutally honest, I have been disbelieving. I have been apathetic. I have puttered out. I have become selfish, consumed with newer life events and my own trials (though I know and trust that God, too, has these situations in the very palm of His hand).

It is easy to become impatient. It is easy to be discouraged. It is way too easy to give up, to fade out, and to abandon this whole measure all together. In fact, I’ve found myself starting to do so without realizing it.

But reading these headlines– full of hope, of pain, of victories, of loss, all within the same days and weeks– has shown me that the Lord’s hand may be unseen, but He moves in more complex ways than we could ever pray for or imagine (Ephesians 3:20, NIV).

We have seen prayers answered: that the Lord would break and decimate the members of the Boko Haram, so that, being broken in spirit, they’d cry out to Jesus; that the government would be given wisdom and understanding for knowing how to fight against the Boko Haram, as well as how to get these girls back home. Both of these prayers, and assuredly many more prayers, have shown themselves to be attentively heard, graciously answered, and unmistakably true– like small, subtle slivers of light through blinds into a dark room.

But when the Lord promised they’d be free, He didn’t promise it’d be done on our terms. Never did our God promise that the story of these beautiful young girls, of the Nigerian people, wouldn’t be complex, chaotic, and filled with such sickening, incomprehensible situations that we’d be left speechless, confused, angered, annoyed, and shell-shocked at what we’ve read and heard.

Jesus also has not promised us that our lives would have simple plot lines. That the resolution to such huge problems would be big enough to fit on a newspaper headline. That the action would be filmed or shot on camera, that prayers answered would be completely and obviously seen.

But we must look at what He has promised us. We must hold on to His promises, remembering His faithfulness, and knowing that He will always be forever faithful to us. “For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us” (2 Corinthians 1:20, NKJV).

Pray for the men and women in Nigeria, that they would fall into such a place where they need the Lord, and that they, in the quiet, broken softness of their hearts, would come to know Christ Jesus as their Lord and Savior.
Pray this also for the Boko Haram members, as they continue to fight in the name of Islam; pray that they’d come to see the meaningless, empty loneliness of their false idol worship. Pray that they’d see how the hatred, the bitterness, and the death not only of their physical selves but of their spiritual selves as well has come about, and that they’d cry out to Jesus in desperation as their Lord and Savior. That there, Christ would come to them and make Himself known to them in huge, amazing ways. Pray they’d be brought near to Him in His love, and would know His peace that surpasses all understanding– that they’d be completely and totally changed by His gospel.
As they come to know Jesus as their Lord and Savior, pray that they’d be strengthened and emboldened by the Holy Spirit, with all spiritual wisdom, revelation, and understanding, to bring the Gospel to those within the BH, so that all others may be saved as well.
Pray for Abubukar Shekau– that His heart would be slowly but surely tilled and broken up so that it may be supernaturally soft to hear the word of God. Pray that the Holy Spirit would break Shekau, so that this evil man may come to know Christ’s love and awesome redemptive power.
Remember, the apostle Paul (formerly known as Saul) himself was a former terrorist to the early Christian Church before the Lord stopped him on the road to Damascus (Acts 9)! Pray that an equally, incredibly powerful event would occur in Abubukar’s life.
Pray– and Praise the Lord!!– for the negotiations happening between Shehu Sani, the Red Cross, and the Boko Haram; for favor on behalf of these girls, for their imminent release, and for the mighty and powerful hand of the Lord our God to move in and through those camps to bring all of the girls and the BH members to faith in Jesus.

What He has promised, let us not forsake in praying to Him for.
“…You who call on the Lord,
give yourselves no rest,

and give him no rest till he establishes Jerusalem
and makes her the praise of the earth.” 
(Isaiah 62:6b-7, NIV)