Bible Study: What to Do When You Get Knocked Down

In an Internally Displaced Peoples’ (IDP) camp, a place where one is supposed to be at least relatively safe, Boko Haram has infiltrated and killed four people while injuring four more. It was reported on Saturday, June 30th, 2018, that Boko Haram insurgents made it past the Nigerian army’s security measures, and had opened fire Friday night. Two of the insurgents were killed; the rest escaped after the Nigerian army fought back.1 Continue reading

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An Open Letter to the Internally Displaced Peoples of Nigeria

I read in this report that 86% of displaced peoples in Northern Nigeria, approximately 1.2 million people, are currently afraid of going back to their home towns and villages in Northeast Nigeria. This letter was written to these people, in response.

To the People in Northeast Nigeria, Beloved by Christ:

Hello. You may never know me; and I may never know you. Living halfway across the world from you, I have not experienced your culture, and I do not truly know the world you live in.

I will not pretend that I understand the pain you have experienced; I cannot.

I look at pictures of your children, and I cry at their gaunt, fragile bodies.
I hear about the land you once inhabited, your homestead, where you once grew your wheat, making a living. I have heard that those people, those locusts with human flesh on, stole it, stole it all, after stealing the lives of your loved ones– those who tried to escape.

I hear about these things. But how could I ever know them? It seems trite, even insulting, to write such a letter to you.

So much, so many has been stolen from you. Your fathers. Your mothers. Your children. Your lovers. Your husbands, your wives. Your innocence. Your homes and villages, wrecked by these locusts with human skin on.

And the miles you walked, ran, and hid to get away. As scorching as the heat that once made Hagar cry out in the desert, you walked your weary bodies across the highest of temperatures to get away from those locusts– those men who rob, and kill, and destroy.

You may have almost died… maybe some of those closest to you did die. I could never be able to understand this feeling: the horror you experienced as they slipped away.

All I can do is cry, when I think about it. Cry for you, cry for them. Cry for the pain that now keeps you awake at night.

By now, millions of people, in the same predicament as you, have found some sort of shelter. An internally displaced people’s camp, a friend’s house. Maybe even an old school building, one similar to the one your children learned in, before it was all taken away.

Maybe you have been there for one week. Maybe it’s been six months; maybe it’s been whole years, since you once saw your homeland. And they want you to go back.

The government, who, for many of you, did nothing to protect you, and nothing to disarm your enemies– they now say it is okay to go home.

I cannot imagine how you feel; I know that probably everybody feels something different. But according to this report, it says that most of you are afraid. Afraid of the known; afraid of the unknown. Afraid of the past; afraid of the present. Afraid of the future.

Friend, if this is where you are, I want to encourage you.

I know that I could never fathom the many atrocities you have been forced to experience.

But there was a time in my life, where much of what I held dear was stolen, too.
Food did not enter my mouth. My “homeland” of friends had to be left. For a time, I felt I had lost my own family.

The details of this story are for another day. I went through the most painful, heartbreaking time of my life, and let me tell you: I was a desert. I was dry bones. At times, I literally lacked even water; my own hands would not give it.

Fear enclosed me on all sides. I was afraid of the past happening again, and was afraid of what my future would hold. Friend, I was terrified.

But this is the Truth: even when I did not, could not see Him, Jesus Christ– the Lord of Heaven and Earth– was working for my good. Even when I felt, even when I was, alone, He was there, with me, in the darkness, chaos, and confusion.

When I was thirsting, spiritually and physically, Jesus quenched my thirst with His Promise: “I will never, never fail you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5, NIV).

hebrews 13.5-6.JPG

Hebrews 13:5-6, NIV

Friend, His Presence, according to Hebrews 13:5-6, makes Him your Helper. The Hand you hold during this trial, this storm. And when you are on the other side of this?

I pray that you will be saying, “Because He is near me, I will not fear.”

 

Jesus is Your Helper. Sounds trite, doesn’t it?
Especially coming from the mouth of a person who doesn’t know the first thing about your tragedy.

But I do know about mine.

It’s been three years later, and I can promise you this: If you place your trust in Jesus Christ, none of this will be wasted.

And He, being Your Good Shepherd, will give you life. Life, abundantly.

joel 2.25-26 finalHe will restore back all of what those locusts stole. He will restore you.

So, don’t be afraid. Be wise. Be cautious. But, with Christ on your side,

Don’t be afraid.



We are praying for you. You matter; You are Loved.

I want to bless you, by praying for you, here.

“Dear Jesus, Thank You for each and every one of these people. Thank You for keeping them alive.
Please let them hear, today, of Your Unfailing Love.
Please help them to dream again. Help them to flourish, and restore ALL that these locusts stole from them.

In Jesus’ Name we pray,

Amen.”

Again, we love you.
Yours in Prayer to Christ,
Annalee (of ISAIAH 62 PRAYER MINISTRY)


“So I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten, The crawling locust, The consuming locust, And the chewing locust, My great army which I sent among you. You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied, And praise the name of the Lord your God, Who has dealt wondrously with you; And My people shall never be put to shame.”

(Joel 2:25-26, NKJV)



Jesus came, that we might have Life, and have it abundantly.
In fact, He paid the ultimate price for us to have eternal life.

Learn more about this God, who lost everything, that we might gain everything in Him, here.

 

Please continue praying for those who have been internally displaced from their homes, in Northeast Nigeria.

We are called to be Jesus’ Hands and Feet, being the practical way others can claim that Jesus is their Helper. You may find a great resource for charities to give to that are currently involved in aiding IDPs in the Boko Haram insurgency, here.

Thank you for all of your prayers and support!

Set Free at Christmas Time!

This Christmas,
Isaiah 62 Prayer Ministry would like to highlight both the joyous successes that Christ has given, as well as to remember the people still struggling in Northern Nigeria.

President Buhari and Vice President Osinbajo take a picture with the 21 freed Chibok girls.

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo take a formal picture with the 21 Chibok girls freed on October 13th, 2016. The 21 girls are Mary Usman Bulama, Jummai John, Blessing Abana, Lugwa Sanda, Comfort Habila, Maryam Basheer, Comfort Amos, Glory Mainta, Saratu Emannuel, Deborah Ja’afaru, Rahab Ibrahim, Helen Musa, Maryamu Lawan, Rebecca Ibrahim, Asabe Goni, Deborah Andrawus, Agnes Gapani, Saratu Markus, Glory Dama, Pindah Nuhu, and Rebecca Mallam.

Over three years ago, the town of Maiduguri had a strict curfew, causing markets and businesses to be abandoned, and citizens hidden in their homes, for fear of attacks from Boko Haram. Cities were being relentlessly attacked.

Two years ago, 219 young women, ages 16-18, were held captive, away from their parents, family, and loved ones. Tears over the inaction of the Nigerian government in the situation dampened the Christmas spirit. Suicide bombers were the tragic norm.

But while some of these things are still being worked out, there has been incredible change. In an article written by Thomson Reuters, Northern Nigerians in the city of Maiduguri are celebrating Christmas, again– the night air now filled with the hustle and bustle of outdoor markets, until the late night curfew of 10 pm.

More than this, Christian congregations have more than just re-commenced fellowshipping: they have taken to the streets, celebrating the Birth of Jesus Christ in the “predominantly muslim city” (source). In a city where Christians used to cower in fear under the oppression of Boko Haram, Christ has brought freedom and victory– to the point of His People being able to sing out His Praises, without fear. Continue reading

The One Who Satisfies

In Yola, Nigeria, after a long day of learning about and reading the Koran, 200 young “almajiri” boys, ages 5-18, gather under a tent canopy or under the roof of an old schoolhouse building. Known for begging alms when not studying the Koran, these boys line up instead for their evening meal as apart of the “Feed and Read” Program put on by a Christian professor from the American University of Nigeria (source). Using perhaps the first set of bowls and cutlery they have seen in a while, they are given a meal of spaghetti, beans, and rice, and a sachet of water– maybe the only meal they have had all day. With stomachs full, the children are invited to take part in the Math or English lesson offered that night, which most take happily.

About 250 miles (402 kilometers) away, in the city of Maiduguri, the need for food is just as real, yet sadly unmet. Within Internally Displaced Peoples’ Camps (IDP Camps), over 400 children ages one to five have perished from malnutrition in 2015 alone (source). While Nigeria’s emergency aid  is doing all it can, many young children are still suffering from the effects of hunger, either because of not eating the right foods, or from simply not having enough to eat, at all.

Where there is lack of food, there naturally begins to be a lack of healthy life. This is also true, spiritually; without Truth continually nourishing the souls of those who have found it, one’s spiritual life becomes more and more like a famished and malnourished child.

The Bible says, in the first half of Proverbs 29:18, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” This says something profound about the spiritual implications of feeding on lies. Sadly, there are many people, dare it be said the vast majority, who truly believe that what they are feeding on is Truth. Deceived by the “sweetness” of what they’re ingesting, many believe that they are doing well, when in fact, they are like a small child after eating too much candy: experiencing obvious trouble because of it, yet always wanting more. In this world where “relative truth” reigns supreme, countless souls lie in spiritual death, separated from Christ.

This is the heartbreaking reality for many who claim to be “religious” or “spiritual”; but this could be no less true than in Northeastern Nigeria, where millions upon millions of muslims live. islam, a religion that is almost 1500 years old, is a religion which, though rooted in the patriarch Abraham like Christianity and judaism, is incredibly different from Christianity in many different ways; the main way being their view of who Jesus Christ is. Though islam acknowledges Christ, calling Him one of the prophets who came before the prophet Muhammad, they completely deny the Deity of Christ, and even deny that Christ was crucified, much less resurrected  (Q’uran 5:116-117; Surah 4:157-158). Rejecting Christ for who He is, muslims, like billions of other people all over the world, feed on religion– their own “good works”– to save them; yet remain hungry and thirsty for something, for someone, more. 

Jesus: the Living Water

Jesus speaks to this deep problem of spiritual hunger and thirst in the book of John, chapter 7.

 On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, ‘Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.’ By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.”
(John 7:37-39, NIV)

The “feast” mentioned in this passage of scripture refers to the “Feast of Booths” (also known as the “Feast of Tabernacles”), an important jewish festival that celebrated the Israelites’ 40 years in the wilderness. During this time, there was an eight-day celebration that included the imagery of water and light (source). It “on the last and greatest day” of this eight-day period that Christ declared this life-changing proclamation: that anyone who came to Him in a spiritually thirsty state would never grow thirsty, in this way, again– but rather, would overflow with His Living Water, the Holy Spirit.

The Bread of Life

As if it wasn’t amazing enough that Jesus claimed to fulfill mankind’s incredible spiritual thirst, He also claimed to fulfill the hunger of every person who came to Him. In the book of John, Jesus is quoted as saying seven “I am” statements. While each of these statements proclaims that Jesus is God (such as Jesus’ “I Am” statement, “I am the Good Shepherd” [John 10], which can be tied to Psalm 23), there is one “I Am” statement that Jesus proclaimed, regarding mankind’s spiritual hunger, found in John 6:32-35:

Jesus said to them, ‘Very truly I tell you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is the bread that comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.’
‘Sir,’ they said, ‘always give us this bread.’
Then Jesus declared, ‘I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.‘” 
(John 6, NIV)

Speaking to another large crowd of people, the ones whom He had fed in John 6:1-14, Jesus tells the people plainly that He not only has the resources of spiritual bread to give them, but, in fact, is the spiritual bread that these crowds are desperately looking for. Though the crowds had originally come to Him to hear His teachings, they received much more: the miraculous, physical food He gives them, and the much more needed spiritual sustenance that they have been so hungry for their entire lives.

Only One Savior

One will notice that Jesus does not claim to be only “one type” of the bread of life, but is “the bread of life.” He also does not claim that a religion is this bread of life. Rather, He declares that He and He alone is the bread of life, and that all who come only to Him will “never go hungry… [and] never be thirsty” (John 6:35).

Though many, many people have complicated Jesus’ message, or thrown it out altogether, the message still remains the same, because Jesus’ Word does not change (Luke 21:33). The message is this: that Jesus is God Himself, and came to earth to fulfill humanity’s deepest need: the need for a Savior, and to be reconciled to God.

In this world where “truth is relative,” and religion reigns supreme, may the world– like those boys studying the Koran, and those children in IDP Camps– be given what they truly need: a personal, saving relationship with Jesus Christ, the Living Water and Bread of Life. Let them “taste and see that the Lord is good” (Psalm 34:8).


Do you know Jesus?

Jesus said to them, ‘Very truly I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54 Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.'”
(John 6:53-54, NIV)

Jesus spoke this controversial passage of scripture right after telling the crowds around Him that He was “the Bread of Life.” Though it sounds scary, gruesome, even, it makes sense when one realizes what Jesus was about to endure.

Some time after proclaiming this to the crowds, Jesus, though innocent, would be crucified for the sins of mankind (Romans 4:25). Accused of blasphemy for declaring that He was God, Jesus was put to death because of the jewish religious leaders of the time, and sadly, all who followed them (John 19:7; 15). His body, beaten and bloodied beyond recognition, took on the sins of all humanity– and “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21, NIV).

Jesus, in dying for the sins of all mankind, reconciled mankind with God, so that all who might believe on Him would have Eternal Life with Christ (John 3:16). Learn about this precious gift of reconciliation– and the One who gave it– here.



Praise Report!!! Praise Jesus for the “Feed and Read” Program! 

Please pray for…

  • The teachers and children of the “Feed and Read” Program. This program was created by a Christian woman; and, though it respects the study of the Koran for the study of these young boys, there is still definite opportunity to share Jesus Christ with these students. Please pray that Christ would raise up teachers who love and know Him, and who will love these children with the Gospel.
  • The people of Nigeria, the Nigerian government, and President Buhari.  President Buhari, and countless others, are muslim. Please pray that those who miss their kidnapped loved ones, and those trying to get them back, would come to know Christ as the True Fulfillment that they are seeking, as well.
  • Those in IDP Camps. Pray Jesus would put His people in these IDP camps, and would send Christian missionaries into these IDP camps, to share the Gospel with  the hurting, hungry people among them.
  • Boko Haram members, and the Nigerian military. Pray that all people in this war on terror– from the instigators, to the soldiers– would come to know Christ as their Lord and Savior, that they might be freed from their bondage, and fulfilled with His Love.
  • The Chibok girls. At the time of this posting, it has been 695 days since the 219 girls still in captivity have seen their families, friends, Loved ones, and the free world. Please pray for their release! Christ hears us, and is working in the lives of these young women. Thank you!

 

The petition, “Tell Buhari: Locate the Chibok Girls by April 14th, 2016!“, was closed on February 22nd, 2016. This petition is now in the process of being sent to President Buhari (though with a fair bit of difficulty). Please pray for an open door of opportunity, and for favor on the petition during this process.

Thank you for your prayers; please pray for the petition as it is sent! Jesus bless you 🙂

They Matter: Justice for the Trafficked

“Jesus loves the little children;
all the little children of the world.
Red, brown, yellow,
black and white;
they are precious in His sight.
Jesus loves the little children of the world.
(–“Jesus Loves the Little Children” by George Frederick Root & Clare Herbert Woolston)

Imagine having to fend for yourself at the age of 9. Traumatized by the violence happening in your own neighborhood, you flee from your hometown without your parents– who, like many, have been mercilessly shot or beheaded by the Boko Haram in front of your eyes [1]. You escape with nothing more than the clothes on your back, and maybe some food for the trip, if you are lucky. You escape with your aunt and cousins; like the many others around you, flee on foot, running and walking for what seems like hours on end in temperatures that normally reach around 100 degrees fahrenheit [2].  Continue reading