I can’t believe it. It’s happened again.Continue reading
In a place called Burkina Faso (which means “Land of Honest Men”), approximately three people have gone missing, with muslim terrorists to blame. Burkina Faso is a poor country with many natural gold mines, and it has undergone many droughts and terrorist attacks since it is so close to Niger and Mali. Continue reading
It has happened. Again.
It was reported by numerous news agencies that a huge number of young girls– approximately 100 of them– were kidnapped by the terrorist group, Boko Haram, on February 19th, 2018, from Government Girls Science Technical College in Yobe State. Most, if not all of the girls were from a place called Dapchi village.1
Honestly, I am angry. Because, once again, the Nigerian government said that they had rescued 48 of these young women. They didn’t.2 I am honesty fuming, and so, so disappointed, at so much.
I have to remind myself that, horrifically, this has been happening for a LONG, long time. To hundreds of men, women, and children.
But don’t you ever just get tired of this happening, again and again???
All I can do is ask God why. And, “When will this stop?” It’s really hard to not become jaded, right now.
But in this time of anger, heartbreak, and extreme discouragement, I am reminded that my Jesus cares. That, just like in John 11:33, when Lazarus dies, Jesus is “deeply moved in spirit and troubled.”
Let me give you some background. In John 11, Lazarus, the brother of Martha and Mary, becomes deathly sick. Instead of running to Lazarus, or healing him with a word, Jesus waits. Four days.
In this span of time, Lazarus dies– and there seems to be no Hope for the situation. He is dead. He is gone.
By this time, Jesus comes upon the scene. Mary and Martha are in the thick, dark blackness of grief; Martha runs to Jesus in honest anguish and disappointment. “‘Lord,’ Martha said to Jesus, ‘if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask’” (John 11:21).
Holding on to faith, Martha pours herself out to Jesus. “‘I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day. …I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world’” (John 11:21, 27, NIV).
Mary, in her grief, does not turn from Jesus. Instead, she runs to Him.
“After she had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary aside. ‘The Teacher is here,’ she said, ‘and is asking for you.’ When Mary heard this, she got up quickly and went to him. Now Jesus had not yet entered the village, but was still at the place where Martha had met him. When the Jews who had been with Mary in the house, comforting her, noticed how quickly she got up and went out, they followed her, supposing she was going to the tomb to mourn there.”
(John 11:28-31, NIV)
In her grief and questioning why, Mary cries out to Him. “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died,” she says, knowing that Jesus is the only One who can help her in her grief. And as Jesus looks around at the death and grief surrounding Him, the greek for verse 33 is very telling. According to Lysa TerKeurst, “Embrimaomai,” the word used to describe Jesus’ response, “refers to anger, outrage, and emotional indignation.”3
Jesus was not just moved to sad tears—though He was (John 11:34). He was moved to extreme emotional aggravation and anger. Not in a sinful sense; but in the sense that He hated what was going on.
I believe Jesus is filled with a similar anger and outrage, looking at the situation in Northern Nigeria—where countless people have been abducted, coerced, and brutalized under being “led by allah.” I believe that it breaks His heart, and makes Him sigh in sorrow.
In Exodus 5, when Moses initially asked Pharoah to let God’s people, the Israelites, go free, things got a lot worse before they got better. Pharoah refused, commanding the Israelites to work even harder. A lot of pain, anguish, and patience was needed before they were actually able to be free.
And so it seems with this. Things are getting worse before they get better. Mary and Martha couldn’t understand it at the time; but, just as Jesus waited four days—until Lazarus was already dead—so that He could show everyone His Glory, He has a purpose for allowing even an event so sick as this one to take place.
And even now, He is my Hope.
Everyone, please pray for these 100 kidnapped young women. May their story not be so tragic and evil as the Chibok girls’ abduction has been—and may their families never, ever lose the Hope that is only found in Jesus. Please, Jesus, bring these young women home soon.
Do you know Jesus?
At this point, Jesus Christ is the only One who can save. These girls, their families, and the world at large—there is no one who can save like He can.
Learn more about this God-in-Human-Flesh, the One who Loves you and wants to save and help even you, here.
Please pray for (print out a “Prayer Points” sheet here)…
- These 100 young women. Already, two women were found dead. Please pray that the rest of these young women would be saved, and that this evil, pain, and suffering would STOP in Jesus’ Name.
- The 112 Chibok girls who are still in Boko Haram captivity. That they would not lose Hope, and would desire to be free. May they come home so, so soon.
- The families and loved ones of these girls, as well as everyone in Chibok, Nigeria, and Dapchi, Nigeria. Please pray over every person that this evil is affecting.
- Pray that Jesus would bring about saving people, both now and eternally, even through this tragic event.
Please spread this news, as well as the story of the Chibok schoolgirls. These girls CANNOT be forgotten; MAY JESUS BRING THEM OUT OF BONDAGE, SOON!!!
3 TerKeurst, Lysa. Finding I Am: How Jesus Fully Satisfies the Cry of Your Heart. LifeWay Press, 2016.
This week is the GLOBAL WEEK OF ACTION, created by the Bring Back Our Girls movement to commemorate the kidnapping of 276 Chibok schoolgirls, three years ago, as of April 14th, 2014.
Today is Day 3 of the Week of Action, and Isaiah 62 Prayer Ministry will pray each day of the Global Week of Action, for the Global Week of Action and for the Chibok Girls.
Please pray with us:
“Dear Lord Jesus,
Thank You for bring the God who gives life, and who restores.
While we know that this horrific tragedy was not of your doing, but the doing of sinful mankind,
we know that You can and will use even this event to bring beauty from ashes.
This is what we pray for today: that You would protect each Chibok schoolgirl that continues to be missing and held captive by Boko Haram. Please protect every captive, according to Your Goodness, Grace, and Mercy.
Please give those participating in events as apart of the Bring Back Our Girls’ Global Week of Action Strength, and please let them come to see and know You, as apart of this week’s events.
As we commemorate this horrible occurrence, we look for Your Hope and Deliverance, Lord Jesus, for NOTHING is impossible with You!
In Jesus’ Name I pray,
Thank you for your prayers! To be involved in the daily events occurring in honor of the Global Week of Action, please click here.
Sa’a, a twenty year old girl from Chibok, Nigeria, was around 18 years old when she was just one of the 276 young women Boko Haram kidnapped on April 14th, 2014. Jumping from the bed of one of Boko Haram’s trucks as it sped away into the night, Sa’a barely escaped with her friend.
Now free, Sa’a (a name used to protect her real identity) is studying in the US, along with the very same friend who escaped alongside her. Interviewed by NPR, Sa’a also wrote a statement, and was brought before a congressional panel on Africa and human rights, represented by chairman Chris Smith.
Although she is physically free from the clutches of Boko Haram, she remembers her classmates, and all those displaced, back in Nigeria, and has brought great glory to Christ, in all her recounting of her horrible ordeal.
Jesus Christ has used this beautiful young woman, and her story, to greatly encourage me in Him. I pray that, if given the opportunity, she would be encouraged in Him through this letter, as well.
Hello! My name is Annalee, and I am from the western United States. I received the honor of learning about your personal story, concerning Boko Haram, both through your interview on NPR, and through a news article posted on a press-release distributor. As I read, and heard, your story, Jesus Christ stirred in me and led me to create this letter to you.
Sa’a, as I read your story, I was filled with both pain, for you and those in Northern Nigeria, as well as encouragement. I wanted to encourage you; but I don’t want to write you merely fluffy words. I wanted to encourage you in Christ, and by His Word. I pray I am able to do so, here.
Sa’a, I praise Jesus, that by Him, you are very brave. Christ has gotten you through so much, and, as a poet named John Newton, once said in the song “Amazing Grace,”
“Tis Grace has brought us safe thus far,
and Grace will lead us home.“
While your current circumstances still may hurt, I want to encourage you with this verse, found in Romans 8. “But in all these things we are completely victorious through God who showed his love for us” (Romans 8:37, NCV).
Sa’a, as you look to the future, I know that you probably also look toward the past, at times. You must think about the classmates you love that have not escaped, yet; and the millions of people who have been displaced, harmed, and even killed by Boko Haram. Sa’a, I am so sorry for this. Please, my dear friend, know that “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:18, NIV). It is during the most heartbreaking times that Jesus is working, moving, and opening His arms wide to you, for Comfort (2 Corinthians 1:3). I pray you would receive that Comfort.
Finally, Sa’a, I wanted to encourage you with this. What your classmates have gone through, and still are going through, is unthinkable.
The injustice is outrageous. So many feel, and think, that no one hears them. Their hearts are sometimes lonely. Hopeless. Sad.
But, even in this state, we have this sure Hope: we know that Jesus Christ rose from the grave, and He is coming back, again (Hebrews 6).
On that cross, the power of sin– and the power of death, that seems so overwhelming– was conquered. “For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power. 57 But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:56-57, NLT).
It is Christ’s Victory that makes us spiritually free and alive, as Christ says.
“Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?'”
(John 11:25-26, NIV)
And, that is the complete Truth– no matter where we find ourselves. In Christ, we have the Victory. In that, I pray you would find true Hope, Rest, and Comfort.
Do you know Jesus?
“For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried,that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve.”
(1 Corinthians 15:3-5, NIV)
Think about it. Your rabbi, your friend, and your leader, Jesus Christ, warns you that He will die soon. That you all will scatter. That He will rise again (Matthew 16:21). How would you feel? What would you say?
There is no doubt that sorrow, panic, and a deep disturbance would fill your heart. There is no doubt that the disciples of Christ were confused, angry, frustrated, and, most of all, filled with grief.
As they saw Christ crucified in agonizing fashion, the One they loved looked defeated. Struck by men, this man who claimed He was God died (John 10:30), and His followers did not understand (John 12:16). Although He foretold His resurrection, Jesus Christ’s death seemed to be the Ultimate Defeat to those closest to Him.
But, Jesus Christ could not be defeated. On the third day, He rose again. Learn more about– and meet– the One who was victorious, here!
Dear Father God,
Father God, I praise You, and I thank You, for all You have done, all You are doing, and all You will do. You are unstoppable, Father God; Your resurrection proves it!
I thank You, Father God, for every person You have created; You have declared Your Glory to all people, Father. Father God, I just praise You for Sa’a, and for her being just one of the countless people You have shown Yourself to. You are Holy, Father God… and You have given everything, to free Sa’a, and to show her You are near. You are amazing, Father God!
I pray right now, in Jesus’ Name, Father God, that dear Sa’a would be comforted by Your Holy Spirit during this horrible time. Please give Sa’a Yourself as her Strength, and draw her close to You. Dear Father God, please delight her as she seeks You, more and more, and show her Your face through all of the grief and darkness.
Father God, I praise You and I thank You for Sa’a’s unnamed friend. Dear Father, I pray that this young woman would know You as her Lord and Savior, if she doesn’t already. Father, You are “a very present help in times of trouble” (Psalm 46:1); I pray that You would show this to Sa’a’s friend. Please strengthen her, Father God, and restore/give to this young woman everything the enemy has tried to rob her of, and destroy.
Father God, I praise You for all people who have been touched, hurt, and otherwise affected by the Boko Haram insurgency. Please bring them to know You, and show them the Justice, Peace, and physical Salvation that they need, Father God.
Father God, please protect those men, and women, who are taking a stand against Boko Haram, and are giving their lives to defeat Boko Haram. Please show them that You are the One and Only God, Father God, Lord Jesus; protect them from their spiritual enemy, Lord Jesus. Comfort them with the fact that You win.
Father God, I pray over the 219 young girls who are still missing, and the thousands more who were not apart of the Chibok Schoolgirls kidnapping. Please strengthen them, Father God; give them great Courage and Peace, and keep their eyes on You (Psalm 31:24; Isaiah 26:3). Please move, in and through these camps, to bring all men— even Boko Haram members– to You.
In all, Father God, please reassure Your People that You are ruling and reigning over their every experience. Thank You for dying the death we deserved, that we might know You, and have Victory in You. Praise You, Father God! I thank You for ALL of this. In Jesus’ Name I pray, Amen.”
Please continue to pray for Sa’a, her friend, and all those who have been deeply affected by Boko Haram– free, and captive. Thank you!
According to CNN, the Boko Haram has kidnapped 185 more women, boys and girls and killed 32 from the town of Gumsuri, Nigeria. This news comes in light of reports that the Boko Haram has been cruelly killing elderly people from the Gwoza area.
There are no words to describe the horror of such reports. There are no words to express the frustration and the disappointment felt by this news. Each new wave of reports heralding such corruption and nightmarish sin can easily cause the observer to lose hope.
Yet, there is a call to stand firm in the fight to bring the Chibok girls, as well as these new kidnappees, back home. Continue reading
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.
Tonight, looking at news updates on the ceasefire deal announced Friday (and the violence that has continued on since then, jeopardizing the deal), I became tired. Weary. Frustrated. Skeptical. Worried.
What are we, as believers in the words and promises of God, to do when everything around us seems to ask why God is so fickle?– or, on a more sickening, cynical, unbelieving level, why God is so cruel?
I’ve had a longer, more polished post drawn up for a few days now, and I’ve been struggling with finishing it. It’s called, “6 Months Later: A Reason For Hope.”
I know what my reason for hope is. I know where– and who in– my hope is found. Yet, the words don’t seem to come. And the thoughts of worry, of doubt, of inadequacy, of fear, linger and creep in, making my heart flutter, haunting the words I mean to say and trying to silence me.
But you know what? I refuse to let the enemy kill my joy. I refuse to let him take over what should be a blessing and an encouragement, making it stressful and tiring.
Tonight, in the midst of the utter chaos that surrounds these abducted girls,
In the midst of the pain that comes with knowing that these beautiful young girls and women need to spend one more night away from their families and loved ones,
In the midst of the weariness that comes with not knowing when this pain will end,
I will trust in the Lord (Proverbs 3:5-6).
I will go into His temple. I will meditate on His love for me (Psalm 48:9).
I will meditate on how he’s lifted me out of every miry pit I’ve ever fallen into– or dug myself, inviting in (Psalm 40:2).
I will think on these things. And, in the midst of such love, such peace, such grace,
I will believe with all my heart that He is never slow or careless when it comes to fulfilling His promises (2 Peter 3:9).
I will praise my God, whose love is unfailing (Psalm 36:5-7; Psalm 56:9-13).
Lord Jesus, I praise you for releasing the 50 some girls that have escaped from the Boko Haram so far.
I praise you for strengthening them according to your steadfast love.
I love you and thank you for providing these girls with people to share their stories with. For providing them with just enough food and water to survive. With just enough strength and determination to reach a refuge. For always being their refuge, even among their pain and suffering.
I thank you for choosing me. For choosing me, for choosing this young child, to hear your heart for these girls. To hear your voice speak these bold promises, full of love and redemption and hope, over such a hopeless situation. Forgive me for being unfaithful in doing what you’ve called me to do– to devote myself to prayer for these girls, and to proclaim these promises to others as well, asking them to join in prayer and support for the abducted girls, for Norther Nigeria, and for Nigeria as a whole. I praise you for being faithful even when I am unfaithful. And I thank you for keeping your watchful eye on these beautiful girls, showing them such favor as to start negotiations, strengthening the Nigerian army to fight against the darkness that holds them, and to cause your people to cry out to you for them.
You are strong and mighty to save.
The LORD your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.” (Zephaniah 3:17, NIV)
Your promises for these girls ring true, everywhere in your word.
“Be sure of this: The wicked will not go unpunished, but those who are righteous will go free.” (Proverbs 11:21, NIV)
I can rely upon Your Word and Your Promises.
Tonight, I will rest in the fact that He is God. Period.
That, no matter what, He is good. Loving. Beautiful.
That redemption and salvation are coming, and it will be glorious.
Tonight, let’s praise, hope, and rest in our God, praying that He grants us the blessing of seeing these girls free soon. Pray for their continued protection; pray for their favor under the rule of the Boko Haram. Continue to pray for the BH leader, Shekau: that He would believe in Christ Jesus and know Christ’s peace that surpasses every understanding there is. Pray that the people of Nigeria would run back to the Lord. That they’d find rest in the shadow of His wings as they trust in Him as their Lord and Savior (Psalm 56:13).
“Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.” (Colossians 4:2, NIV)
“You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.” (Isaiah 26:3, ESV)
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)