Sometimes, we need the people around us to help us. This couldn’t be more true in the fight between Niger and Boko Haram. Continue reading
I read this news report, heralding the news from Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadique Abubakar, that “the fight against Boko Haram insurgents is coming to an end.” In the report, Abubukar states “the outcome of our offensive operations showed that the fight against Boko Haram is gradually coming to an end; this, however does not mean that we should rest on our oars.” Such an amazing report can only enlighten the soul; whether or not it is completely true, the fact that significant progress is made is something to celebrate.
This celebration comes amidst recounting the horrors of Boko Haram, and all that the citizens of Northern Nigeria have been through. The New York Times did an article focusing on 18 girls who were kidnapped, and subsequently made to go on suicide missions.
As each of these young women shared their stories, it became real: the heaviness of the suicide belts on their hips; the false promises of heaven for pushing a detonator; and the IMMENSE amounts of courage– and honestly, grace from God– that it took to turn themselves in instead of following Boko Haram’s orders.
For one girl, her little brother was also made to go on a suicide mission. He was too young at the time to understand what really was going on. He was driven away on a motorbike with Boko Haram’s members; she said he never came back. Instead, the men who drove off with him came back cheering at their “success” (source).
Whether or not Sadique Abubakar’s statement is true only time and events will tell; many are already going against his words, citing many suicide bombings in the last several months including three that made headlines. But amidst this immense loss, the chief of Air Staff’s words come like a refreshing breeze in a hot, hot desert. It is a Hope for weary soldiers, continually fighting the good fight against evil and oppression.
In the same vein of thinking, Christians, especially those continuing to experience hard trials, have the Hope that one day, the pain they are going through will be over with, either upon passing away, or upon the time of Jesus’ return. Think about it: whatever you, as a Believer and Follower of Jesus Christ, are going through, right now; whatever is the content of your pain, your sighs, and your suffering; you not only have the promise that Jesus will be with you, in and through it. You also have the sure promise that one day, “every tear will be wiped away” (Revelation 21:2-4).
“And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying,
‘Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.'”
(Revelation 21:3-4, NIV)
All Christians know that their time in heaven will be like paradise; and the day His Kingdom comes is closer now, more than ever (2 Timothy 3). It’s anticipation that fills us with the urgency to tell other people about Christ.
Revelation 21 describes Heaven amazingly. Obviously, Heaven is absolutely gorgeous, something that we can only imagine until Jesus allows us to see it ourselves after death or upon His return. In all, the New Jerusalem– heaven on earth– is 1,400 miles wide, high, and long. But it’s grandeur not the only thing that makes Heaven so beautiful.
God’s Presence is Paradise
But there is perhaps one special, beautiful thing that makes heaven, heaven. Many people focus on the presence of angels in heaven, imagining heaven to be a place of white, fluffy clouds, and angels playing melodious harps. But it is SO much more than this! Heaven will be re-created, as well as Earth– and Believers will be given a new, resurrected body, as Jesus dwells with them (Revelation 21:3).
What does this all mean? Ponder the importance of having a sun, a moon, and, for the Believer, a place of worship. Sure, we can worship anywhere we want as Believers; but the place of worship is where one meets with God. These verses are saying that in Heaven, God’s Presence with His Children is all we need. So it is, here; but God will dwell with His People, and God’s glory will be made most manifest, like never before. It is the magnitude of God’s Presence that makes Heaven, Heaven.
The Kingdom of Heaven is Near
In a mysterious way, that I admit I do not still quite understand, we are to ask Jesus to bring His Kingdom and Rule to earth (Matthew 6:10). The mind-blowing part: He does this through us! We, Believers in Jesus Christ, are able to experience the Presence of God in this moment– and are being used by Jesus to bring His Kingdom– “The Kingdom of Heaven”– to earth, starting now.
Jesus is with us, now; and, one day, we will live in the Presence of God, void of sin, pain, and death (Revelations 21:27). We will be given resurrected bodies, just like Jesus, and will live in a new Heaven on a new Earth (1 Corinthians 15).
We can be told these things, over and over again. But do they actually shape the way we live on a daily basis?
Does the fact that all sin, and its consequences, will be banished away, give us real Hope and Comfort?
Does the fact that we will be given new, resurrected bodies, and a new Heaven and earth, make us look at the world around us, differently?
Does the fact that we will be with Jesus, in unhindered fellowship, give you Peace about your future?
And lastly, does the fact that time is running out– and that Heaven is real– give you an urgency about bringing others to Jesus?
With all of these beautiful promises of God in mind, we must live our lives with a sense of urgency, leading as many people as possible to know Jesus, and to enter into His Rest. The struggle is almost over; for those who believe in Jesus, this is a huge relief. But, for those who do not know Jesus, there is a sense of mockery and/or dread in their hearts…
Just as the soldiers fighting in Nigeria, Niger and Chad are fighting the war on terrorism, so are the people of God fighting evil. As we await the end of this war on evil, and anticipate a time of true Peace and complete Newness, we have a sure Hope: “the war is over soon.” Not only this, but we have a Commander who will see us through– one who has already secured the victory! On that day when this world and everything in it passes away, may we have lived in the power of the Holy Spirit in such a way that our Great, Loving Commander says, “Well done, my good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:23).
“Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight.”
(Acts 1:9-12, NIV)
“But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.”
(Acts 7:55, NIV)
So many people today ask the question, “How can I get to heaven?”
Doing good things comes to mind; attending a place of worship, reading holy texts, and generally “being a good person” is usually the world’s answer to such a question.
But if this were true, Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross– and His resurrection three days later, followed by His ascension to heaven– is entirely useless.
The Truth is, nothing we can do– no matter how “good” or “moral” it may be– can “get us to heaven.” Believing in Jesus Christ, as Lord and Savior, is the ONLY way.
Find out more about Jesus, and why His death and resurrection were completely needed, here.
Please pray for…
- For the Chibok school girls. As 113 of them are in physical bondage, and countless others are reeling from the PTSD and trauma they have experienced, that they would run to, and come to know Jesus– and that He would set them free.
- The militaries of Niger, Nigeria, Chad, and Benin, as well as the rest of the world’s armies fighting terrorism and evil. Please pray that these men and women would come to know Jesus as their Lord and Savior, and would not only be in an earthly army, but in the LORD’s army.
- Those Christians, especially missionaries and those traveling to share the Gospel, for strength, that they might put on the full armor of God (Ephesians 6; this will be spoken about in future posts.). That they would continue to fight evil on all fronts.
- For those who are being persecuted. “Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering” (Hebrews 13:3). Please pray that Jesus continues to keep them strong in His Love, and that they would not turn away from Him!
- For ourselves; those around us that are going through deep personal trial and anguish, that Jesus would bring them His Hope, Comfort, and most importantly, that His Presence in their lives would make them strong in Him.
Thank you so much for your prayers and support. Jesus bless you all.
This post is dedicated to the four American green berets that lost their lives fighting terror in Tongo Tongo, Niger, along with the countless men and women who give their lives every day in the military.
On October 4th, 2017, four soldiers from the United States were killed in a fire fight between US/Nigerien soldiers and ISIS. In the firefight, one soldier named Sargent La David Johnson, was separated from the rest of the team. After the fight had ended, it took an extra 48 hours to find his body, to bring it back to Dover Air Force Base on October 7th.
This sad, sad news reminds me that it is not only civilians that are suffering in this insurgency, that has now spread to most of the Middle East and Africa. Be it Boko Haram, or ISIS (they are one in the same– Boko Haram pledged allegiance to ISIS in 2015), this insurgency is killing hundreds of innocent soldiers, soldiers who have given their lives so that Boko Haram, ISIS and Al-Qaeda are vanquished.
These men and women are not just numbers and statistics. Behind every fallen soldier is a mother left without a son; a man left without his best friend; and a wife or husband left without their spouse. Millions– millions of people outside of those directly attacked by Boko Haram– have lost their fighting loved ones to Boko Haram. Continue reading
Saturday, September 30th, a Boko Haram member by the name of Mohammad Bashir was taken into police custody in Ondo State, in Southwest Nigeria. He was found in Ondo State after fleeing from the Nigerian military’s manhunt for Boko Haram members in Northern Nigeria. While in custody, Ondo State’s police commissioner paraded him around in the public to different news reporters. In doing this, Bashir shared with news reporters that he and other Boko Haram members had planned to attack Ondo State, before being taken in by the Nigerian police.
In telling his story, Bashir admitted to “only” killing two people: a “small child” who was in the brush, and an adult whom he “killed by the roadside,” according to Sahara Reporters. As if killing two people was not a heart-breaking event in and of itself, forever scarring the hearts and minds of those involved.
This news comes out just as another news report was updated, concerning Boko Haram’s victims: 48 people were slain by Boko Haram on July 25th, 2017, and four lecturers from the University of Maiduguri, Borno State, were taken captive. They have now spent 72 days, and counting, in captivity.
It was reported that one of the lecturers wrote a letter to his wife. In it, he urged the Nigerian government to help them, and free them, soon. He spoke of the horrors of captivity. About how much he hated it.
As sin runs rampant in Nigeria; as small children are sold for cheap, and killed in the brush, and as innocent men, women, and children, cry out for ANY sign of freedom; as the hearts of men grow cold with violence, and the wealthy in Northern Nigeria fuel such evil, one question can rise up out of the muck and mire: “GOD, WHERE ARE YOU?”
It has already been shared, on this blog, that some people have said that God has left Africa. While the events going on in America– Las Vegas, and the Church Shooting in Antioch, Tennessee— are nothing short of abhorrent and heart-rending, the amount of corruption and violence going on throughout all of Nigeria can easily lay one’s heart, low.
It is in times like these where one can truly ask the question, “Where is God?” and seemingly receive no answer. It reminds me of the story of Gideon, set during a time when Israel was experiencing equal corruption, violence and oppression.
In Judges 6, Israel is in the midst of being oppressed by the Midianites, after turning from the LORD (Judges 6:1). The Midianites had SO oppressed the country of Israel, that the Israelites resorted to hiding their food in the mountains and caves, because the Midianites would take all of their food and livestock (Judges 6:2-5). The Israelites became so oppressed that they cried out to the LORD for help (Judges 6:6). Sound familiar?
Israel’s sin introduced oppression– sin has a way of doing that in every country (Proverbs 14:31, 34). But Christ did not let His beloved, wayward nation of Israel fall to ruin. No; instead, He intervened.
“Then the angel of the Lord came and sat beneath the great tree at Ophrah, which belonged to Joash of the clan of Abiezer. Gideon son of Joash was threshing wheat at the bottom of a winepress to hide the grain from the Midianites. The angel of the Lord appeared to him and said, ‘Mighty hero, the Lord is with you!’
(Judges 6:11-12, NLT)
“The Angel of the LORD” is a commonly-used term in Old Testament scriptures, to speak about how the LORD Himself appeared on earth (Genesis 22; Exodus 3). God Himself was speaking to this man, Gideon!
But Gideon gives a reply that is less than chipper.
“‘Sir,’ Gideon replied, ‘if the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us? And where are all the miracles our ancestors told us about? Didn’t they say, “The Lord brought us up out of Egypt”? But now the Lord has abandoned us and handed us over to the Midianites.'”
(Judges 6:13, NLT)
One can almost hear the anger, the hurt, and the pain in Gideon’s voice. “If the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us?! Where is this God who does miracles, who took us up out of a land of oppression?! We are oppressed. How could God be with us?”
I read these words, and can’t help but get teary-eyed. In the midst of what is continually happening in Nigeria, and what has so horrifically happened in Las Vegas– and, on a somewhat smaller scale, how Nabeel Qureshi just recently passed away of stage four stomach cancer— this is a question that has, without a doubt, crossed the hearts and minds of many deeply hurting people, recently.
But I notice that God does not fight with Gideon. Instead, God gives Gideon a shocking, scary proposition. He tells Gideon to go out, and fight those who are oppressing Israel:
“Then the Lord turned to him and said, ‘Go with the strength you have, and rescue Israel from the Midianites. I am sending you!’
‘But Lord,’ Gideon replied, ‘how can I rescue Israel? My clan is the weakest in the whole tribe of Manasseh, and I am the least in my entire family!’
(Judges 6:14-15, NLT)
God did not try to defend Himself against Gideon’s accusations that He was not there. Instead, God called upon this scared, “wimpy” Israelite, a man afraid of the darkness and violence all around him… and told him to fight against it.
But God does not ask Gideon to do this seemingly HUGE endeavor, by himself. Knowing Gideon’s fear, doubt, and heart full of pain, God says something very special to Gideon’s heart.
“The Lord said to him, ‘I will be with you. And you will destroy the Midianites as if you were fighting against one man.'”
(Judges 6:16, NLT)
Just like that. Jesus does not ask Gideon to do something about this darkness, without promising His Loving Presence to Gideon.
These were words that the very broken, doubt-filled heart of Gideon needed to hear.
And I think it is something that Las Vegas; Antioch, Tennessee; Charleston; and Nigeria need to hear, too. Something that you may need to hear, today.
If there is anything that we can learn from this passage of scripture, it is this:
Sin will always end in oppression.
But God, even in our rebellion, will not leave those who have called on Jesus’ Name.
Not even now, in our darkest of hours. And this Loving, Faithful God can handle your questions– even the rawest, most painful, accusatory ones.
And perhaps, one of the biggest take-aways is this: Jesus does not want us to merely “curse the darkness”; He calls us to loving, compassionate action. To be “the light of the world, a city on a hill” (Matthew 5:14-16).
So, as corruption does not seem to stop in Nigeria– and as the whole world is hurting, once again, over the evil, oppressive sin of another– I pray that Jesus’ Love would shine out from us, lighting a world that is, more than ever, entrenched in darkness. That we, apart of the Lord’s army, would fight against sin and darkness– knowing that, because Jesus is with us, the victory is truly ours– no matter how the fight looks, right now.
“The angel of the Lord appeared to him and said, ‘Mighty hero, the Lord is with you!”
(Judges 6:12, NLT)
Let God’s words to Gideon be a comfort to our hearts, as well. My friends, “Mighty Heroes” in Christ, do not fear; the Lord is with you.
This blog post is in tribute to the three American special agents that passed away in warfare in the country of Niger, Africa. Our prayers are with their families.
Do you know Jesus?
Jesus, 2,000 years ago, achieved the ultimate victory against sin and death– by dying for the sins of mankind, and rising again on the third day!
We have real, true Victory in Christ! Learn more about this victory– and why Jesus came to win it, in the first place– here.
Pray with me…
“Dear Lord Jesus,
Thank You for dying on the cross for our sins! Thank You for giving us TRUE victory, that can only be found in You.
Dear Father God,
We come to You today, as it is day 72 of these people’s captivity… and day 1271 of the remaining 113, Chibok young women’s captivity.
We just ask in Your Mighty and Precious Name that You would bring these members of Boko Haram to Justice. Please humble them and bring them to the ground, so that they would completely repent and submit to You.
Please bring these lecturers, the Chibok young women, and the rest of the captives of Boko Haram out of captivity, soon.
Dear Jesus, we also pray for those still reeling– and for those who will be grieving– the evil that has happened all across America, for the rest of their lives. Dear Jesus,
Please bring these people to You, and allow them to ask the hard questions; please be their Answer. Dear Jesus, please be near to them; please comfort them.
Please continue to be with our first responders, police, and the police in Nigeria, as they all battle the evil, evil darkness we have all seen unfold. Please protect them, Lord Jesus; bring them to Yourself, so that they might live and work for Your Glory.
Please also help and hold the families of the three special agents who were killed in Niger, as well. Please be their comfort and shade from the sun of violence.
The gates of hell will not prevail– thank You, Lord Jesus (Matthew 16:18).
In Jesus’ Name we pray,
Recently, members of the United Nations (UN) have visited the Lake Chad basin, considered the near center of four countries: Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon, and Niger.
This dwindling basin is not only the geographical center of these 4 countries, but is in fact also the epicenter of the evil Boko Haram insurgency. Ravaged by the woes Boko Haram has caused, the injury of the state is severe: widespread famine, and millions of refugees have gone barely noticed worldwide up to this point, with only humanitarian aid and other nations’ responses helping to feed and provide basic needs to those involved in the crisis. But that is not all: Michele Sison, U.S. Deputy Ambassador to the United Nations, has reported, upon coming back from her trip to the nightmarish place of the Lake Chad Basin, that women have seemingly suffered more than men from Boko Haram violence.
Women, in the toxic areas Boko Haram has attacked, are now widowed, sexually exploited, and financially empty. This extreme suffering does not only belong to female victims of Boko Haram, but also carries over to women who were apart of Boko Haram. Whether voluntarily or involuntarily in Boko Haram, these women have had more difficult times facing stigma from their home towns and villages, especially when desiring to get re-married, according to Sison’s report. While one can understand why any person would be both skeptical and careful of a “Boko Haram wife” being re-integrated into their lives, those women who were coerced into Boko Haram, have been met with shunning and threats, instead of compassion and support over what they have been through. “I was treated as if I was also Boko Haram,” said one woman, in this report.
Women and children are slowly being degraded and killed– as well as those in combat against Boko Haram. On March 9th, it was reported that one soldier passed away in a battle against Boko Haram members, in Borno state (source). Two soldiers remain missing in the line of duty, and 18 were wounded while fighting.
The abuses against humanity in this area of the world could heartbreakingly go on and on. The noble get snuffed out; the vulnerable and precious become abused and wounded. In such a place as this, where is a Sovereign, Good God?
In The Beginning
To answer such a question, one first should ask, “Where was a Sovereign, Good God in the beginning?” In the account of the beginning– that is, in Genesis 1– the Bible describes a very profound image of God.
“Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.”
(Genesis 1:2, NIV)
The earth, made of particles of matter, was, as Elliot’s Commentary for English Readers’ puts it, “a shapeless and empty waste” (source). The Commentary goes on: “It expresses here the state of primæval matter immediately after creation, when as yet there was no cohesion between the separate particles.” In this formless, empty waste that was earth, the Bible does not reveal that God was distant, or “apart” from the earth, as Deism teaches. Instead, the Bible describes God has “hovering” over the waters: very near, and very involved with and in His creation.
Fast forward to Genesis 3, and one gets yet another view of this Sovereign, Good God, interacting with the pinnacle of His Creation, humanity. In Genesis 3:1-9, the relationship between God and man is first seen as whole and unbroken. But, then, a huge breaking happens. “Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden” (Genesis 3:8, NIV). This verse presents two very real things: that one, God enjoyed His Creation, maybe even walking with Adam and Eve in the garden; and two, that it was not God who caused this fracturing in fellowship, but Adam and Eve. Given freewill, and choosing to eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, Adam and Eve blatantly disobeying God’s command. Adam and Eve, in eating from this tree, displayed their decision to try to live a whole, unbroken life, without God, the source of Life Himself. While God foreknew that this action would take place, it was still humanity’s decision, humanity’s lack of trust in God being God, that caused sin, and death, to enter the world.
God, in Pursuit
Still, even through all of humankind’s sin, rebellion, and trying to “kick God out” of their lives, God– a Good, Sovereign God– did not leave mankind to rot in the stew of it’s own sin and death, mistakes and consequences. Instead, this Good, Sovereign God Pursued and Loved humanity relentlessly (as seen throughout the Old Testament). Still, a fracture– or truly, a gaping canyon– existed between God and humanity. Some might ask, “Why can’t a Good, Sovereign God just forget the debt of sin? Why can’t He just forgive?” Because God is a Good God, He is a Fair God; “He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent” (2 Peter 3:9). The wage for sin is death (Romans 6:23), and as the Ultimate Judge, He cannot, by His very Nature, wink at sin and turn a blind eye. He must be Fair, and there must be Justice, yet, He knew that nothing mankind can do– not even dying for their sins, themselves– could reconcile them to Him. As a Good, Loving, Sovereign God, He willingly stepped into this role, paying for the entire sin debt of mankind– though He owed none of it. But He did not stay dead: not even death could hold Him. He rose again, on the third day, claiming victory over satan’s power, and over the sin and death that separated Him from humanity.
This gift, made outside of humanity’s ability (or rather, disability) to “earn” it, is completely free. It can lead to the question of, “Why?! Why would a Good, Sovereign God suffer in our place?!” The answer is simple: He Loves us. God is not just a Righteous, Sovereign God; He is a God who Loves us, both personally and passionately. Jesus Christ, who died just as much for the sins of one person as He did the entirety of mankind– and rose again, claiming victory over death– is the Savior of those who freely take on this good, good gift.
The Receiver’s Role
As the receivers of this good gift, Christ, who is God Himself, has called those who believe Him, for who He is to be, “ministers of Reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:18-20). God is the One who came to earth, to die for the sins of mankind in an act of complete reconciliation; Jesus made the ONLY way to “get right” with the Father.
Christ is bringing what is dead and fractured, to life, through the reconciliation He completed on the cross.
And so, a new “Creation” takes place (2 Corinthians 5:17). Just as God was “hovering over the waters” of an empty, formless world, creating beauty, form, and meaning in His creation of the Earth, He is now creating beauty, form, and meaning in the hearts of those who are responsible for the fracture– using Believers as His vessels to complete this task.
One can easily ask, when looking at the Lake Chad Basin– and for good reason– “Where is a Good, Sovereign God in such hell on earth?”
But He is where He has always been: Creating new life out of chaos, and redeeming what is broken. The real question is, will you join Him? 🔹
Do you know Jesus?
It is a seemingly trite, cliche question. “No,” you may laugh; “I’ve never met the guy.”
There have been many world-changers; some even claim that Jesus was a world-changer. Yet, there is no one like Him: He did not only change the world, He changed, and broken down the dividing wall, that kept mankind from Himself.
Jesus is not still hanging on the cross. He rose again, victorious!
Jesus is God.
He is alive, well (Acts 1:9-12), and where He always has been, ever since the garden (Genesis 3:8): passionately, and personally, pursuing you.
Come to the One who beckons, and calls your Name for you to come to truly know Him, here.
Please pray with me…
Dear Lord Jesus,
We thank You, dear Jesus, for paying the price we could never pay, to receive something freely that we don’t deserve.
Thank You, dear Jesus, for bringing us into a personal, saving relationship with You… not based on “good works,” but based on Your Grace and Goodness, toward us.
It is with Your Grace, and Your Goodness, in mind, that we come to Your throne room, now.
I praise You, and thank You, for each and every person You have made, currently living in Borno state, and specifically in the Lake Chad Basin… dear Jesus, we cannot imagine their suffering, and if anyone praying can, Lord Jesus, we know that we can only live through such things with You by our side.
Please, Lord Jesus, make Your Presence known– through Your Holy Spirit, through other people, through the world around us, and, importantly, through the Revelation of Your Word, the Bible. Please, dear Lord Jesus, make Your Presence known to those suffering in internally displaced people’s camps, in Boko Haram’s fortresses and camps, and in the desolate villages, harmed and wounded by Boko Haram, and by other evil, perverted men and women. Please bring even those perverted, evil men and women to come to know You.
We pray that as people recognize Your Presence, that many would come to know You, and would come to be healed of their brokenness. There is much wrong with this world, Dear Jesus, and You are the only cure… our only Hope.
Please make Yourself very Present in the lives of those reading. I pray they would realize their need for You, and would run to You for the Salvation, Forgiveness, Healing, Love, Grace, and Mercy that only You provide.
Please save all those reading, and bring them to the Light of Your Passionate Love for them. May they know You as their Lord and Savior– following You all the days of their lives, and realizing that nothing they do is from themselves, but only done by Your Grace.
We pray, in Your Name (John 14:13), that those who are currently starving would receive the physical food they need, as well as the Food that only You can provide. Please take care of their physical needs in general, and as they look to whomever gave it, may all the Praise, Glory, and Thanks truly go to You.
Please, we pray in Your Name, bring back the Chibok girls, soon… and please bring back home the wounded soldiers, and civilians in Vigilante Groups, who have been fighting to eradicate Nigeria of Boko Haram. Please, bring these men and women in Nigeria to You, including the President of Nigeria. Thank You, Jesus.
In Jesus’ Name we pray all of this. Amen!”
Thank you for your prayers!!! Jesus is Good, and He is in Control. BE BLESSED! 🙂
“After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands…”
(Revelation 7:9, ESV)
It is no secret that Nigeria, especially Northern Nigeria, has been completely ravaged by Boko Haram’s insurgency. It has been a long 7 years since the islamic sect turned violent, killing tens of thousands of people and displacing 2.6 million from their homes. Although the majority of those killed or displaced are from Northern Nigeria, Nigeria has not been the only country deeply affected by Boko Haram.
In 2015 alone, the countries of Chad, Cameroon, and Niger have sustained more than 50 bombings, suicide attacks, and raids. In two of the attacks in Niger alone, the towns of Wogom and Diffa saw at least 100 homes go up in flames, killing 26 people and wounding many others . In January of 2015, an estimated 400 people were savagely murdered in “door-to-door gun and knife attacks” by Boko Haram in Fotokol, Cameroon (source). Yet, these attacks are not the end of what Boko Haram has put these nations through; the three countries have also provided shelter, food and water to 200,000 Nigerian refugees, running from Boko Haram’s attacks in their own towns– in which 100,000 displaced people have fled to Cameroon alone (source). While it is clear that Nigeria has had its own trying time because of the Boko Haram insurgency, the people of Cameroon, Niger, and Chad have suffered horrifically at the hands of Boko Haram (also known as ISWAP: Islamic State’s Western Africa Province) as well. While these countries may be outside of this blog’s focus on Nigeria, they– and their people– are certainly not outside of Christ’s focus, and are in dire need of prayer and support.
In Isaiah 43, Jesus, through Isaiah, says, “‘I will say to the north, Give [them] up, and to the south, Do not withhold;/ bring my sons from afar/ and my daughters from the end of the earth,/ everyone who is called by my name,/ whom I created for my glory,/ whom I formed and made‘” (Isaiah 43:6-7, “them” mine). Although this passage, in context, is clearly speaking about Israel, Gentiles, through the blood of Christ, have become God’s people and children, as well (Galatians 3:26). As on reads further in Isaiah 43, Jesus’ reason for gathering all of His children becomes clear.
“‘You are my witnesses,’ declares the Lord, ‘and my servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he. Before me no god was formed, nor will there be one after me. I, even I, am the Lord, and apart from me there is no savior. I have revealed and saved and proclaimed— I, and not some foreign god among you. You are my witnesses,’ declares the Lord, ‘that I am God. Yes, and from ancient days I am he. No one can deliver out of my hand. When I act, who can reverse it?‘”
The people of Chad, Cameroon, and Niger, in the midst of warfare and displacement, need hope: that there is a God of Justice, watching over the situation, who in the end will mete out perfect Justice on their behalf. More than anything, though, the people of Cameroon, Niger, Chad, and Benin need to hear the Good News: that this God of Justice is also a God of Mercy; and, by the power of Christ’s blood, wants them to receive His gift of grace, forgiveness, and eternal Life with Him. Not only does this God want them to have life eternal, with Him; He wants them to have life abundant here, on earth, even in the midst of such desolation. But, as Romans 10:14 points out, “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?”
Jesus’ Command, Our Delight
The next verses in Romans confirms what is being suggested: that men and women need to be willing to go out, and tell others about Christ (Romans 10: 14b-15). But this concept is more than just a suggestion; it is Jesus’ command to all believers. It is found in Matthew 28: “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20, NIV). While following this commandment– just like any other work– will not make you more “righteous,” and will not “get you to heaven” (Salvation is by grace through faith, not works, lest any man should boast [Ephesians 2:8-9]), to truly love Jesus is to obey Him (John 14:15). Christians are called to grow in, and tell others about, Jesus Christ.
While this has not been the Church’s aim (at least in the majority of churches in America), in revival– truly coming back to Christ afresh, or coming to truly know Jesus for the first time ever– Christ’s Love in the heart of the believer should make one both truly compassionate, and zealous for others to come to know Christ, as well. Truly, Jesus wants deep, abiding relationships with His children, so that they might be full to overflowing with His Love. When the heart of a person truly responds to Christ, they exhibit the fruits of His Spirit in their lives: “love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23). As a Christian’s cup “runneth over” with these things, one can’t help but want to pour into others the Good News they have received.
Sharing the Bread of Life
While one can, and should, provide humanitarian relief to those in these countries, Christians should be aiming to fulfill a deeper need: for those they come in contact with to meet “the Bread of Life,” and “Living Water,” Jesus (John 6:35). All over the world, in every tribe, tongue, and nation, Christ is calling out to people to receive what only He can offer: true fulfillment, Perfect Peace, true rest, and divine guidance and insight, among countless other blessings. As His children, filled with His Spirit, we should be calling out, too; if not in those countries, physically, then in prayer, for others who do so. Because, in Chad, Cameroon, and Niger, we cannot fathom how badly they need it– need Him.
On January 31st, 2015, Hyeon Soo Lim, a Korean-Canadian and pastor of a church in Toronto, Canada, was arrested by North Korean officials for “subversive plots” against the North Korean government– no doubt for missionary and “religious work” in many parts of North Korea. In December of 2015, he was sentenced to life in a hard labor prison; and although Canada’s government has caught wind of the story, it has done little to nothing to help free Pastor Lim.
Please pray for Pastor Lim, as he goes through this horribly difficult time. Pray that Christ would use him, as He used Paul and the other apostles, even in prison, to share the Gospel and bring others to Christ. Please also pray for his health, well-being, and that He would keep His eyes on Jesus. Of course, pray for His release, in Jesus’ way and timing.
If you feel led, please also read, sign, and share this petition to Canadian officials, that they would seek negotiations with North Korea to free Pastor Lim. Thank you; Be blessed in Christ.
Do you know Jesus?
The verse in Revelations 7, mentioned at the beginning of this post, is an incredibly powerful look at the future glory all believers will experience. Verse 10 describes something incredibly wonderful, and powerful:
“After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, ‘Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!‘”
(Revelation 7:9-10, NIV)
This description may sound odd or hard to understand, but truly, Jesus is the Lamb the great multitude is worshiping.
2,000 years ago, Jesus, God in human flesh, came into the world to save mankind from sin’s power and eternal damnation– separation from God (2 Thessalonians 1:9). Why do we need saving, you might ask? We were all born, because of Adam and Eve’s decision to disobey God, with an innate sin nature; that is, our nature was poisoned by sin, making us evil from birth (Genesis 3:6; Psalm 51:5). God, being a God of Justice, could not let any sin go unpunished; therefore, mankind deserved to die for their sin (Ezekiel 18:20).
For centuries, God’s chosen people, the Israelites, paid for their own sin by the blood of birds, lambs, goats, and bulls, especially on “the Day of Atonement” (Leviticus 16). While this covered the sin of the people, God’s way, it did not remove the sin (Hebrews 10:4). “[But] God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). Although Jesus was perfectly sinless, “humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross,” becoming the ultimate sacrifice for the sins of all mankind (Hebrews 7:27). But He did not stay dead! No, He rose again, three days later (1 Corinthians 15:4). In doing so, he has forgiven the sins of any person who believes that He is God, and died for their sins– giving them the free gift of Eternal Life in heaven, with Him (Romans 6:23).
Jesus’ free gift to all mankind must be received to forgive and save a person, though. The bible says we must “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved,” and “If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9).
Do you want Jesus, the Perfect Lamb of God, to forgive and save you of your sin? If so, you can say a simple prayer to Jesus right now, like this one:
“Dear Jesus, I believe that You are God, and that You died on the cross for my sin. I believe You rose three days later, forever conquering sin and death, and gave the free gift of Eternal Life with You to all who believe. Lord Jesus, I have sinned against You in word and deed; and I need You to save me from my sins. Please, Lord Jesus, come into my life and be my Lord and Savior– and help me to live for You. In Jesus’ Name I pray, Amen.”
If you have truly and sincerely asked Jesus into your heart and life as Lord and Savior, congratulations!!! You have made the best, most important decision of your entire life– both for here, and after. The Bible says you are now a new creation in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17)! If you would like to tell me of what Christ has done in your life, and/or of your new decision, please click here!
Be truly blessed in your walk with Jesus! 🙂
Please pray for…
– The people of Chad, Cameroon, and Niger– both those displaced and citizens in the country.
– Those in Internally Displaced Peoples’ (IDP) camps. Please pray that these men and women would hear the Gospel while in these places. Please also pray for their physical needs, and that they would be kept from harm and abuse.
– The governments of these countries. That their leaders would come to know Jesus Christ.
– Men and women all across the globe, especially in these nations, to rise up to spread the Gospel in these traumatized areas. Pray they would experience this call of Christ on their lives, and would be given all they need to answer it, including bravery.
– Pastors and other church leaders in these areas. Pray that these brave men would be upheld and strengthened to minister to those Christ has entrusted them with.
– Muslims and other nonbelievers in these areas. Pray they would come to know Christ Jesus as their Lord and Savior, and would have the blindfolds taken off their eyes, in a real way.
– These countries’ militaries. Pray that members would come to know Christ, and that Christ would give them favor as they continue to fight Boko Haram alongside Nigeria.
– Boko Haram members. “But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven…” (Matthew 5:44-45, NKJV). Please pray that these deceived people would know Jesus– and that the Boko Haram insurgency that they’re apart of would be annihilated.
– The Chibok girls of Borno, Nigeria. Please pray that they are located, and rescued, very soon! As you are led, please read, sign, and share this petition, asking President Buhari to locate, and officially report, the whereabouts of the Chibok girls by the second anniversary of their kidnapping, April 14th, 2016.
Thank you for your prayers, and Jesus bless you. Let us not stop sharing Jesus with others until the whole world knows!
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