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)

A Quick Update

Hey, beloved people! Thanks for reading through this blog and continually having those in Nigeria on your hearts and minds in prayer to our Lord.

At this point, I have no new updates about Daphne’s medical situation (for those reading for the first time, Daphne’s situation is unrelated to that of the Chibok Girls, but it is VERY dear to my heart, and so I asked for prayer. For information on who Daphne is and her story, read here). In prayer, the Lord brought to mind her ex-boyfriend, whom I’ll call W, as well as her mother, father, sister, and close friends, all of whom, to my knowledge, do not know Christ. Please be praying that the Lord would use this horrible pit to soften their hearts to His gospel, convict them of their sin, and bring them to Him– whether for the first time, or to know Him once again– in all, to know the wonderful reconciliation of accepting Christ as their Personal Lord and Savior. Pray that as they accept the Lord into their hearts, He’d give them such peace, such revelation, and such comfort and transformation that it would completely change their attitudes towards the things of Him, themselves, each other, and this world. Pray they’d experience His nearness. That they would see His sweetness, His raw, “I’m not leaving you here” love, His kindness, His mercy– and that it’d bring them to Himself. Pray that He’d work in and through them to proclaim His praise. For, no matter who they’ve been, “…God’s kindness is intended to lead [people] to repentance[.]” (Romans 2:4b). 


Bracelet-making update: Along side using alphabet beads to spell out the messages of these bracelets– those being “Hephzibah: My Delight is in Her,” “Isaiah 62,” and “Bring Back His Girls” or “BBHS” — I’ve started to use small, ceramic square beads to write out the messages as well. 

 As promised on the Bracelet page of this blog, I’m posting many pictures of them below. Though these bracelets are ultimately not about fashion or style, the ceramic bracelets look more grown up, have allowed me to paint them more uniquely and thoughtfully, and allow me to say more on each of them.

The Lord has completely blessed me with being able to thoughtfully create such beautiful things for the people of Nigeria. Please be praying that as I continue in doing the Lord’s work, He’d open up doors to those in my community and church to help me create, as well as share, the bracelets with the world around us. Also pray that I’d have much guidance, clarity, and confirmation on what the Lord’s will is concerning how I proceed in this. Praise the Lord!! He’s doing such amazing things, guys. I’m so excited for what He’s going to do next. 🙂 

Pictured above: The front of one bracelet. Text reading "Hephzibah 267," with a bird/dove flying in flight underneath.

Pictured above: The front of one bracelet. Text reading “Hephzibah 267,” with a bird/dove in flight underneath.

Pictured: The front of one red bracelet. Text reads, "Isaiah 62 | Bring Back His Girls"

Pictured: The front of one red bracelet. Text reads, “Isaiah 62 | Bring Back His Girls.”

The front of one bracelet. Text reads, "Isaiah 62 | Bring Back His Girls."

The front of one more simple, boyish bracelet. Text reads, “Isaiah 62 | Bring Back His Girls.”

Pictured: The front side of one bracelet. Text reads, "Hephzibah: My Delight is in Her".

Pictured: The front side of one bracelet. Text reads, “Hephzibah: My Delight is in Her”.

Bless the Lord for all of you. I’m continuing to pray for all of you, those I’ve met and those who’ve followed online… may the Lord bring you to know Him through His kindness and mercy and through the knowledge of His son, Christ Jesus. May you deeply desire to know Him through His Word, and may you be rooted in it as you gain all spiritual wisdom and insight into what He wants for your life. Be so blessed. I love you all.

A New Breath. Breathed In.

I have a very urgent, unrelated prayer request for anyone who is reading this.

I was sitting on my bed when I got the text. “Please please please be praying for Daphne… She’s in the hospital in Chicago with an extremely serious lung issue and has been put into an induced coma.”

A thousand thoughts rushed through my mind. “Lord, don’t take Daphne!!!” was all I could get out. I’ve found out she’s become ill with a very rare form of pneumonia. She was put on a ventilator this past week, and though she was doing better and using the machine less to breathe, she was put into a medically-induced coma a day or so ago because the infection got worse. She has put on the list for a lung transplant.
To my limited knowledge, she and her family do not know Christ personally as their Lord and Savior.

I have seen many seeds sown deep into Daphne’s life this past year. I know that the Lord is working in and through her. As I’ve been praying and seeking the Lord about her, He has confirmed to me and others praying with me in our church that He is, as we speak, moving in the life of Daphne, her family, and her dear friends and bringing both her family and friends to Christ.

While going through the word and trying to encourage a friend in the Lord yesterday in the midst of praying for this, Christ gave me this verse:
“Then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.”  (Genesis 2:7).

It is His breath that she is breathing. He is the God who breathed life into us, dust! Who made these dry bones to come to life! (Ezekiel  I pray that the Lord will bring these people to know Him, as He is, and that they will know without a doubt that they are breathing His breath.

He will save them. He is redeeming this situation as we breathe. They will breathe His breath for Him and Him alone because of this.

Pray that He would make the dry bones to LIVE! That He’d make the blind to SEE! The deaf to HEAR! The hard-hearted to be given NEW HEARTS, hearts of FLESH! That these beloved people would come to know Christ, that they may be called His bride, His children!!

Pray that Daphne would be given immense favor and in His grace, the Lord would present Daphne with available lungs, and that she’d be brought back into complete health; more than this, that by the Lord’s touch ALONE Daphne would be completely healed. May she breathe again, a deep breath, HIS breath, and may she PRAISE Him with it! The Holy Spirit is moving! Please email me if you would want updates for this situation!