After six long weeks of delay, a champion was finally announced. Widespread, fanatical responses were had all over Nigeria: in the streets, women and men joyously celebrated the victory of their new president, “elaborately sweeping the dust” ahead of them to welcome his “flamboyantly” robed dignitaries (source). Women, in brightly colored hijabs, proclaimed his praises in an united, sing-song voice; people partaking in the celebration cried out, “Only ‘him’!” and “When ‘he’ is elected, Nigeria will go better” (source, “him” and “he” mine). Over a period of 48 hours, he became one of the most beloved, admired, revered men in all of Nigeria. And, remarkably, in only one day, his election marked a historic turn of events– surely, a great sign of growth– for democracy in the country. He seems hopeful, vigilant, and resolute in his promises. His name is Mohammadu Buhari. Continue reading
There are countless children and teenagers being forced into the Sharia-law enforcing Boko Haram. On December 25th, it was reported that one 13 year old girl was forced into Boko Haram by her father, who was also apart of the terrorist group. Being apart of this group did not spare her from deadly violence, though; members asked the girl– and eventually forced her– to be a suicide bomber with two other young girls in the city of Kano, Nigeria. Leaving her suicide vest behind in the taxi she rode, this young girl narrowly escaped certain death, being injured in the leg by the blast caused by the two other suicide bombers.
The news is dire. According to this report, published on November 3rd, the Nigerian school girls who were abducted have been married off, and are now in their “marital homes.” Boko Haram’s leader, Abubukar Shekau, announced this in one of the terrorist group’s videos, and mocked any effort to try to find and free them.
What kind of response are we to have to this news? Are we to believe it? Are we to believe that the leader of the Boko Haram’s words are more trustworthy than the promises of God? This is indeed a tough place to be in– a place that says any and all hope is dashed, that all efforts to keep up morale are futile. Yet, in this time of extreme discouragement, waiting and hoping upon the Lord is still not a lost cause. As the Psalmist writes:
“Why, my soul, are you downcast?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him,
my Savior and my God.”
(Psalm 43:5, NIV)
This scripture speaks of holding onto hope. But how can one keep hoping and waiting upon the Lord in such discouraging circumstances? To keep up hope, one must place their hope in the one who is unchanging. Laying our belief on the rock of God’s Word instead of on the shifting sand of circumstance ensures that our hope will not waiver or be removed, as is relayed in the parable of the man who built his home on the rock:
“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.” (Matthew 7:24-25, NIV)
Because this man knew God’s Word and believed it to be true, he built his life on it, and his life’s hope, peace, love and joy were therefore unshakable. When we put our hopes into Christ’s words, we can also be unshakable in our hope.
“But AnnaLee,” you may ask, “How can you still believe they’ll be free if it’s been reported that the girls have already been married off?” Is it just wishful thinking?
I know how these promises sound. At this point, it may even seem insane. Yet, my hope for the release/escape of these girls is unbroken. God has promised it; therefore, He will come through on His promises.
From a purely rational standpoint, their escape or release is also not entirely impossible, either. In the case of this news actually being true (for we do not know the truth without question, as news concerning the girls has been so varied and ever-changing), one can still believe in their rescue because “with God, all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26, NIV). When God promised the release of these girls all those months ago, never did He say that it would happen according to our time or in our ways. He did not promise that it’d be plastered on a headline or announced during the evening news. He did, however, promise that each and every girl would be saved, freed– and that their identities would not be formed by this tragedy, but by them belonging to Christ. Albeit it might be seriously difficult to believe, these girls can still be rescued or freed from their “marital homes,” and not all is lost. In light of these promises founded in God’s Word, my faith– our faith, truly– remains unshaken, and our hope untarnished.
Because when God says something, He means it. I now leave you with this encouraging benediction:
“Blessed [are they] who [have] believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to [them]!”
(Luke 1:45, NIV)
Please be praying for these girls, whether they be in their own “marital homes” or are still in camps. Pray that their faith in the Lord would only grow to be stronger, and that the Lord would use them in mighty ways to bring their captors and/or husbands to the saving knowledge of Christ as their Lord ans Savior.
Pray also for members of the Boko Haram (BH), that the Lord would continue to soften their hearts and minds as they keep these girls in captivity, and that the heart of Shekau would be radically changed by the Love of Christ.
Pray for the girls’ families, most of whom have lost hope of ever seeing their daughters, sisters, and friends again; pray that these heartbroken men and women would hold onto this unshakable hope as well.
Pray that these girls, no matter where they are, would be freed soon, and that if they are in their marital homes, their husbands would be so affected by our sisters’ witnesses that they would come to know Christ through their wives, and would set these beautiful women free.
Do not lose hope, brothers and sisters! The Lord is near, and His promises ring true. For all these reasons, we pray.
Dear readers, be blessed.
UPDATE: After reading this heartbreaking story, it has been pressed upon my heart that these young girls would be prayed for– not only for their release and salvation, but for their healing and restoration after having obtained months of sexual abuse. Please pray that, if given the chance, these girls would look to Christ, and would not harm or abort their children, if they do have them. Pray that these young women choose life for their children, and that their hearts would be open to the healing work Christ wants to do in and through them.
This pain is unbearable without Christ. Please pray that they’d look to Him for the restoration and healing they so need.