Thirsty for the “Living Water”: Bringing those in the sex industry to Christ

On Sunday, November 1st, a sad text message confirmed surprising news in Nigeria. “Hi Ameh,” it read, “want to inform you that we just lost our President, Jessy this afternoon. She died after battling heart-related disease for years. It is a sad loss to NANP and we pray God to give her family and 15-year-old daughter the fortitude to bear the loss.”

“Who is Jessy, and what is the NANP?” one might ask. The answers are surprising and shocking, in and of themselves: “Jessy” is a woman named Oluchi, otherwise known as Jessica Elvis; and, sadly, the organization she was president of is the National Association of Nigerian Prostitutes, an organization working to legalize prostitution and better the lives of prostitutes in Nigeria.

Thirsty for the Living Water

Though prostitution is illegal in Nigeria, the sex trade, and the NANP, are flourishing. Women as young as 16 either willingly join the trade; or, are unknowingly trapped and forcefully coerced into prostitution by strangers– and even sometimes by family. These women become apart of the scum of society; and even though the late Jessica Elvis implied that sex workers are not prostitutes, but “friends of the society,” [1] their trade, whether chosen or forced upon them, degrades and ruins their lives, and the lives of their “customers.” This evil organization, and the sinful practices it stands for, express not only the rapidly declining moral state of the nation, but one Truth: the nation and its Northern inhabitants are not only thirsty for physical water and relief, but all of Nigeria is thirsty for “the Living Water” that never runs out: the person of Jesus Christ. Continue reading

“Hope for the Future”: Keep Your Eyes on Jesus (A Letter)

In April of 2014, 276 girls ages 16-18 were stolen from their boarding school in Chibok, Nigeria.
Although the majority of the young women remain missing, 57 managed to escape. Three of them, along with one girl who fortunately, was not kidnapped, but saw the kidnapping and school fire’s aftermath, spoke with Abigail Pesta of Cosmopolitan Magazine concerning their stories. All four of these girls are Christian; and, although their experiences concerning Boko Haram and the Chibok Girls kidnapping are traumatic (to say the least), one of them, Mercy, has chosen to forgive their members, saying, “I pray to God to forgive them and cure their hearts… I do not want revenge.” By Jesus’ grace, these four brave young women are now studying at a Christian boarding school in Canyonville, Oregon.

When praying about this blog post’s topic, Jesus led me to write a letter of encouragement to my fellow sisters. Using God’s Word to exhort these brave young women, I pray it would encourage them to “keep their minds stayed” on Jesus. You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!” (Isaiah 26:3, NLT). I pray that it would keep all of our minds on Christ, and that it would bring close all those who are far away from Him.

Continue reading

Hope for the Fractured: Unity for Nigeria

“Hope deferred makes the heart sick,
    but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.”
(Proverbs 13:12, NIV)

“Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined… How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity! …It is as if the dew of Hermon were falling on Mount Zion. For there the Lord bestows his blessing, even life forevermore.”
(Matthew 12:25; Psalm 133:1, 3, NIV)

The people of Nigeria– all people, for that matter– were not born to be senselessly, irredeemably fractured. The sight of a broken person, physical or otherwise, either stirs up two things: compassion, if they are an innocent victim of what fractured them, or condescension, if they got themselves into their fractured state. In the case of Nigeria, and especially Northern Nigeria, there is a mix of both. And while there might be confusion and debate surrounding the exact cause(s) of Nigeria’s wounds, one fact is undeniably plain: Nigeria is a nation that is, in many ways, pitted against itself– and in certain danger of falling.

Continue reading

Quick Post: Rest.

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.

“Your word, LORD, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens.” (Psalm 119:89, NIV)
“Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.” (Matthew 24:35, NIV)

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)

 

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!

The Women of Gwoza, Nigeria’s Youth, and the Nigerian Military: Fighting Against the Darkness

We, as humans, were never created to experience death. Yet, in the town of Gwoza, lives have been ripped apart by it.
Darkness seems to reign. Hands hang limp.  Blood runs heavily. People are both literally and metaphorically crushed.

After being asked one question, “Will you convert to Islam?” Men and children are beheaded, slashed, and shot down where they stand, sit, and lay. Their wives, mothers, and sisters– those beautiful young girls and women, loved and cared-for members of their households and communities, are violently raped, beaten, and gagged after being “married” to their husbands’ murderers. Then, bound, shrouded in the darkness of black hijabs, they are told by their captors and rapists, “You are Muslim now.”
The blood flows. The tears dry them out. The bruises become dark; the bones wither. Their spirits sink as low as the mass graves of their loved ones. In days, their lives become full of nothing but bitter heartbreak and unimaginable horror.
But the Lord knows and loves these people passionately. Many of these forsaken, beaten, bound, “converted” women, if not most to all of them, know Christ as their Personal Lord and Savior, and according to Voice of the Persecuted, over 300,000 Christians were displaced from the predominantly Christian Gwoza and it’s surrounding states as the Boko Haram infiltrated the community.
Because of this fact, there is still hope.  A God who sees, knows, and loves His people, who is “close to the brokenhearted [and]… rescues those whose spirits are crushed,” affirms and assures the hope of His people that He will be near to them during this time. Not only this, but they have the promise that “all things will work together for [their] good,” according to Romans 8:28. Because our God is a good, sovereign, loving God, their faith and rest is in His power– His complete willingness– to REDEEM the lives of these broken, crushed women.

Because our Lord is a God of unbelievable redemption and amazing second chances, He not only will comfort and redeem these people; He can use them to bring others to Himself. Hallelujah! How great is our God!

To be quite honest, I don’t know what to write or how to in the face of these tragedies. How can one do justice to telling the truth of the horrendous acts being committed? How can one capture the voice of a nation dying under the dark powers so disgustingly at work within it?

In conclusion, be strong in the Lord [be empowered through your union with Him]; draw your strength from Him [that strength which His boundless might provides]… For we are not wrestling with flesh and blood [contending only with physical opponents], but against the despotisms, against the powers, against [the master spirits who are] the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spirit forces of wickedness in the heavenly (supernatural) sphere. Therefore put on God’s complete armor, that you may be able to resist and stand your ground on the evil day [of danger], and, having done all [the crisis demands], to stand [firmly in your place].” (Ephesians 6:10a, 11-13, AMP)

The truth is, no one can fight against this; it must be Christ. I cannot, and do not, fight this war on my own. Whether I am writing on this blog, creating prayer bracelets, or telling others of what is going on in this country, I, in my own strength, am insufficient to fight against the powers of darkness that exist so heavily around us. And as I hear about civilian youths fighting alongside the Nigerian military against BH, the Nigerian military lacking in weapons, training, and morale, and these dear men and women dying for their faith all over the world as BH, Hamas and ISIS persecute Christians, the truth becomes more and more clear: Contrary to the world’s popular belief concerning the Boko Haram, Hamas, and ISIS, we are not fighting a war against mere flesh and blood. As the passage in Ephesians proclaims above, we are fighting a spiritual battle against an enemy that is, in fact, deceiving and destroying not only those persecuted, pillaged, and lost by Islamic terrorism, but the human terrorists so vehemently hated themselves. Therefore, we must rely upon the power of the Holy Spirit to move in, through, and around us to defeat the enemy who is fighting so hard to destroy. We cannot fight only with mere weapons, no matter the lack or the abundance of them. Ultimately, we must fight with prayer, with fasting as the Lord calls us (Matthew 17:21), and with spreading the word to raise awareness– awareness not only of the plight of these people, but of the enemy’s spiritual schemes and attacks. As Ephesians 6:18 states, we must “keep alert and watch with strong purpose and perseverance, interceding in behalf of all the saints (God’s consecrated people)” (Ephesians 6:18, AMP).

With all of this in mind, let us pray for our beaten and wearied kidnapped sisters in the BH’s camps, as well as in the town of Gwoza. Let us pray that the Holy Spirit would move powerfully within the towns of Gwoza, as well as the surrounding towns within the Borno, Yobe, and Adamawa states of Nigeria. Pray that the God of all comfort would speak to these women in their distress, keep them under the shadow of His wings, and would work in and through these women and these situations all over the world to bring members of Boko Haram– as well as the members of ISIS and Hamas in the Middle East and Syria– into a personal relationship with Himself. May He create in them such rest, such strength, and such faith in Him, that they’d proclaim His name boldly, illuminating such darkness with His perfect light.

Pray that the youths fighting against the BH with the Nigerian military would come to know Christ as well, and that by His guidance and strength alone, they’d continue to fight against the BH with boldness. Pray for the Nigerian soldiers; that though they may be lacking weapons, the Lord would show Himself strong through them in defeating the BH according to His will– and that no matter if they have proper weapons or training, their strength and resolution would be found in Him alone as they call upon His name. It is only by the power of Jesus that these dark forces can be extinguished. 

We were never meant to experience death, but with Christ, death is already defeated. We must be aware of the enemy’s schemes, putting on the full of armor of God, completely confident in the fact that He has already won the war against sin and death, and that His salvation will soon be seen in the lives of these people! Please continue in faithful prayer and solidarity with our fellow brothers and sisters around the world facing the darkness.