When in Persecution

“The Lord said, ‘I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering.’”
(Exodus 3:7, NIV)

In the year of 2017, 215 million Christians experienced “high, very high, or extreme persecution.”1 Open Doors, an international organization documenting cases of persecution and advocating for persecuted Christians, stated in their 2017 report that now, more than ever, Christians are being heinously persecuted in places such as the Middle East, Africa, and Asia.

Sadly, the news gets worse. Pakistan, a country that is mainly Muslim, has risen above “even… Northern Nigeria” in terms of violence toward Christians. There was a 62% increase in the murder of Christians in Nigeria, and now, there is even a broader range of places where Christian persecution takes place—now reaching even to some places in Mexico and Columbia.

There have been high profile cases of Christian persecution, many of which have been written about on this blog (such as the case of Pastor Saeed Abedini). A well-known persecuted Christian, Asia Bibi, is living in prison, sentenced to death, for refusing to renounce her belief in Jesus; the Pope met with her daughter, Eisham, and Asia’s husband, Ashiq Masih, on February 24th to honor persecuted Christians worldwide. The pope also met with freed Christian Chibok girl, Rebecca Bitrus, during the day to honor persecuted Christians.

Around the world, on a daily basis, regular people like you and I are having to sacrifice greatly—sometimes their own lives—for the name of Jesus. They love Him with all their hearts, and have suffered horrific things for the love of Him.

Similarities between the Oppressed Hebrews & The Early Church

Reading Exodus 1-3, these precious, yet persecuted people have come to mind. The Israelites—a people who started with only the family of Jacob, about 70 people total (Exodus 1:5), were a blessing to the Egyptians, with God using Joseph to warn Egypt of a great famine, saving the lives of millions of people all over the area (read more about this in Genesis 41). The Pharaoh at the time knew that “the gods” were with Joseph (when of course it was truly YHWH with Joseph, only YHWH is God), and made him second in command over all of Egypt; but Exodus 1 says that “…a new king, to whom Joseph meant nothing, came to power in Egypt” (Exodus 1:8, NIV). During this time, the 70 people who belong to Israel’s family exploded “greatly.” This huge amount of people was a real threat to Pharaoh—and so, he made them slaves, oppressing them and cruelly causing them to work incredibly hard, hoping it would hinder their population growth. The Israelites did nothing wrong to Egypt, and even blessed Egypt (through Joseph)—and yet, Egypt forgot how they had been blessed, and treated them cruelly instead.

But Pharoah’s cruel idea did not thwart God’s good, Sovereign plan. Instead of hindering the Hebrew’s population growth, their population growth grew even more rapidly! At this, Pharaoh ordered the Hebrew midwives to kill every boy that was born; but they did not bow underneath the extreme pressure of Pharoah (Exodus 1:15-16). Instead, “The midwives, however, feared God and did not do what the king of Egypt had told them to do; they let the boys live” (Exodus 1:17, NIV).

As many of you readers know, the Israelites only grew in the face of oppression—and were more and more cruelly oppressed, because of it—at this point, for 350-400 years2 (Exodus 1:22- Exodus 6). In fact, the Israelites had been so horrifically oppressed that their cry was heard by God, and He was deeply concerned for them (Exodus 2:24-25).

Many know the story from here. God saves Moses through Moses’ mother, sending him down the river in a basket made of papyrus; and he is adopted by the Pharoah’s daughter. He kills someone and flees to the land of Midian for 40 years; and God speaks to him through the burning bush, asking him to go back to Egypt and deliver God’s people, the Israelites, from their suffering.

But what does ANY of this have to do with the Persecuted Church? It can be seen as a vivid picture of the worldwide Church, and the suffering that is happening within it, today. Let me show you what I mean:

  • The worldwide Christian Church, like the Israelites, are people chosen by God—a people that started with a small population (1 Peter 2:9; Acts)
  • The early church, and the church in general, was and is extremely persecuted—yet it did not stop faith in Jesus Christ from spreading, “multiplying” Believers3 (Acts 11:19-21)
  • Those in the early Church refused to stop speaking of Jesus and the Gospel, even under heavy political pressure (Acts 5:17-33)
  • Because the early Church was from God, it could not be hindered, just like the Israelites (Acts 5:34-39)
  • A “mixed congregation” left Egypt with the Israelites; this can be somewhat applied to how Gentiles came to know Christ (Exodus 12:37-38; Acts 28:28)

The worldwide Church today—Jews and Gentiles alike as the “true Israel” Paul speaks about in Romans 9, especially verse 24, is still thriving in underground/secret fellowships despite increased terrorism and persecution. People continue to come to know Jesus Christ in spite of suffocating political oppression, in countries all around the world. Missionaries and regular, everyday Christians risk their lives, speaking of Jesus and His Gospel despite fierce opposition, disdain, and rejection. And, because even “the gates of Hades will not overcome [the Church],” no one—no matter the amount of persecution, evil, murder, violence, or political/religious/worldly power—will be able to deride or overpower God’s People.

An End to the Suffering

But what about the exodus? The Israelites got freedom from their oppression; but what about the Persecuted Church? Revelation 6:9 speaks of these horrifically persecuted Christians—and Jesus’ comforting promise to them.

When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God and the testimony they had maintained. They called out in a loud voice, ‘How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?’ Then each of them was given a white robe, and they were told to wait a little longer, until the full number of their fellow servants, their brothers and sisters, were killed just as they had been
(Revelation 6:9-11, NIV)

Ultimately, Jesus will rescue those who are being persecuted—either through death and entering heaven, or through the rapture. “Just a little longer,” Jesus says to those who have been killed for their faith, as they wait for Justice. It will all be made right in His time.

As you and I pray for those who are suffering persecution of any kind, right now, let us thank our Jesus that we are able to worship Him together in freedom (if we are able to do so). And let’s also remember this: that Jesus wins out, every time. That no pain is wasted; and that Jesus is Sovereign. God came through before– He will come through, again.

This post is dedicated to those Christians currently suffering in Nigeria, especially Northern Nigeria. Please pray for them—and for the kidnapped Christian Chibok girls, still living in muslim captivity.


Do you know Jesus?

Most people know Moses as the one who God used to deliver the Israelites from their disgusting bondage to the Egyptians. But, most people might not know that Moses never entered into the Promised Land, Himself (Numbers 20:12). A man named Joshua did.

Though it might sound confusing, Joshua is a “type” of Christ: that is to say, he foretold of the Messiah to come, who would liberate the people and carry them into their Promised Land, a land of freedom, faith, and complete life transformation from the oppression the Israelites were under.

The Jewish people expected a King to overthrow the oppression of Rome from them. But He had much more in mind. Read more about Jesus Christ—and why He is THE Messiah—here.



Please pray for (Print out a “Prayer Points” sheet here)

  • Those who are being persecuted for their faith, right now. Click here to get a good understanding of which countries have the most persecution, here.
  • For those who have family members and loved ones die from persecution. Pray that Jesus would comfort and strengthen their hearts, after losing those they love so much.
  • Those who are currently in prison for their faith, and their families & loved ones. Pray that Jesus would carry them through; that they would not be ashamed of the Gospel, and that He would set them free from prison, be that His Will, soon.
  • The country of the United States of America. We have, in our luxury, forgotten how incredibly fortunate we are to be able to believe in Jesus Christ—and worship Him openly—however and wherever we would like. May we have boldness to continue to worship Jesus and share His Gospel.
  • For the Chibok girls (and all other kidnapped people from Boko Haram). Pray they would become free, very soon.
  • For all Believers– including ourselves!– that we would be full of the Holy Spirit, bold, and loving as we share the Gospel!!! That we would be sensitive to the Spirit’s leading in that.

 

Thank you for your prayers!!!

http://www.christianitytoday.com/news/2017/january/top-50-countries-christian-persecution-world-watch-list.html

http://www.ancient-hebrew.org/articles_exodus.html

https://www.christianity.com/church/church-history/timeline/1-300/a-look-at-the-early-church-11629559.html

 

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Free to Dance: The Importance of Sharing the Gospel

On the Sunday morning of October 16th, 2016, 21 of the original kidnapped school girls from Chibok, Nigeria, celebrated their freedom during a church service in the capital of Abuja.

Surrounded by their loved ones, clad in beautifully vibrant outfits, the 21 Chibok school girls were filmed dancing and singing for joy (the video can be seen here). Living in a state that one never could have dreamed of, this scene of the girls, dancing with a spring in their step, was no doubt a little bit of Heaven seen on Earth.


The Cost of Freedom

The girls’ freedom was not without cost. Freed, in a deal brokered by the International Committee of the Red Cross and the Swiss Government, reportedly cost the Swiss Government millions of dollars, while more reports have claimed that the girls were freed in exchange for four Boko Haram militants. While the exact deal has not yet been confirmed, one knows they were freed, at an incredibly high price.
With 197 young women still in captivity, and at least 83 still held by the faction of Boko Haram these 21 Chibok girls were freed from, freedom still seems far away, though it has now become a possible reality, to the watching world.

Little by little, the promising words of Isaiah 62, are being realized, in the lives of those affected by the Chibok kidnapping. While Isaiah 62, in its original context, was written for the nation of Israel, Christ used the passage for Isaiah 62 Ministry, to quite clearly express the Hope, Joy, Freedom, and Redemption these girls were to experience– even in the midst of the darkness, that was the first weeks after their kidnapping. “The nations will see your righteousness,” it reads,

    World leaders will be blinded by your glory.
And you will be given a new name
    by the Lord’s own mouth.
The Lord will hold you in his hand for all to see—
    a splendid crown in the hand of God.
Never again will you be called “The Forsaken City”
    or “The Desolate Land.”
Your new name will be “The City of God’s Delight” [Hephzibah],
    and “The Bride of God,” [Beulah],
for the Lord delights in you
    and will claim you as his bride.
Your children will commit themselves to you, O Jerusalem,
    just as a young man commits himself to his bride.
Then God will rejoice over you
    as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride.
(Isaiah 62:2-5, NLT, emphasis mine)

It is clear to see that, little by little, this joyous redemption is occurring, for the Chibok girls and their families, in huge ways.


Staying In Bondage

But, amidst the celebration, there is still a huge amount of young women actually unwilling to leave Boko Haram. As reported, in this article, over 100 of the Chibok schoolgirls do not want to be freed, either out of the fear that they will be stigmatized and harassed by those in their hometowns, or because they have been radicalized by Boko Haram, after being made into their wives.

To hear that these young girls may want to remain in captivity breaks the hearts of those who have waited, and are still waiting, for their release. Yet, it is the sad truth: whether it would be fear, or believing the enemy’s lies, these precious young women are choosing to stay bound, whether they realize it, or not.

In reality, this is very much how many people live their lives. Bound by the enemy, some people refuse to get free, and to receive the freedom that Christ freely gives them. Some may not even realize that they are believing a lie; others may know that they are in bondage, but remain helpless, just the same.

The Wonder of the Gospel

This is the pressing reason of why it is so important to have Christ, and His Gospel, shared. The Gospel is not some cliche, religious word, nor is it just “apart” of Christian faith culture. Instead, the Gospel, which means “good news” in Greek, is THE most important news anyone could hear.

The word “Gospel,” and the Good News of Christ found within it, has been so used in American and Christian culture that it has seemingly lost its power and true meaning– sometimes, sadly, even to those who believe and practice it. But the word “Gospel” itself is derived from the word “euangelos,” meaning “messenger,” “one who brought a message of victory…” (source). The Bible confirms the power of this glorious message in Romans 1:16. “For I am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ. It is the power of God at work, saving everyone who believes—the Jew first and also the Gentile.”

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16). Source: BibleScreen.com

Many people would say they know this message of salvation pretty well: that as the all-famous verse, John 3:16, expresses, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” While this verse is very well-known, even to those who don’t believe it, it’s awe and wonder should never be lost.

Slaves to Sin

The Apostle Paul, when explaining the reality of Jesus’ Good News to those in Rome, compared coming to know Christ to being ransomed, as a slave.

21 So just as sin ruled over all people and brought them to death, now God’s wonderful grace rules instead, giving us right standing with God and resulting in eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. …15 Well then, since God’s grace has set us free from the law, does that mean we can go on sinning? Of course not! 16 Don’t you realize that you become the slave of whatever you choose to obey? You can be a slave to sin, which leads to death, or you can choose to obey God, which leads to righteous living. 17 Thank God! Once you were slaves of sin, but now you wholeheartedly obey this teaching we have given you.”
(Romans 5:21; 6:15-17, NLT, emphasis mine)

At one time, before one knew Christ, they were held captive by the “law of sin and death”– bound by the sin, that Adam and Eve committed, and to the death of separation from God, that sin created. While mankind tried to become free, through the keeping of the Law of Moses (John 7:19), no amount of obedience and works is enough to break this bondage to sin and death.

Ransomed by Jesus Christ

But at the right time, “when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly” (Romans 5:6, NIV). Knowing that mankind could not pay its sin debt– even through the grandest of good works or the most detailed keeping of the Law– Christ, God in human form, came down and paid our sin debt for those who believe. In effect, He set all who believe on Him free, from the wages of sin and death– bought and ransomed by God (Romans 6:23; 1 Peter 1:18-19).

Believers were bought with a price– no longer slaves to sin, and free to do as Christ commands us to. But isn’t that just more drudging, joyless slavery? One can ask. This is the beautiful Truth: No. Instead of “slaving” for salvation– lost, and floundering to be saved by one’s own efforts, those who believe on Christ become the very children of God: “Now you are no longer a slave but God’s own child. And since you are his child, God has made you his heir” (Galatians 4:7, NLT).

From Slave to Child

What does this mean? It means that a Believer is saved, no matter what they do or don’t do; and, as children of a Loving Father, they can choose to obey their Living Father’s commands, not out of obligation, but out of knowing that His way is best. As His heirs, Believers are given all that Christ has (Ephesians 3:8); the best of which is an unbreakable, eternal, personal, Love relationship with the God who loved us first (1 John 4:19).

For the price of the blood of Christ, Believers have been forever set free, to live in Relationship with Him. This Gospel News is not only some Good News; it is the Only News that can truly set people free. With this in mind, Believers are equipped with the very news that can liberate those still floundering, lost, and enslaved. This freeing News must be shared.

As the world celebrates the freedom of the now 22 Chibok girls, let us also keep those, who have yet to be freed, in prayer. That they, and those in Believer’s lives, would be freed, both physically, and spiritually. After all, only Jesus can break the chains of bondage, and help us to freely dance, just like the Chibok girls. 🔹



Do you know Jesus?

“We love each other because he loved us first.”
(1 John 4:19, NLT)

“What other king leaves a throne? What other king leaves his glory to die?” A popular, profound, worship song asks, as the music plays (hear it here).

This worship song does not ask something easy; nor does it ask, for the sake of finding an answer. Jesus Christ, “who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:6-8).

Why would one, who has done nothing wrong, come to die for the sins of people who rejected Him?
The answer is simple, yet amazing: Because He so loved the world.
On a much more personal level, He died, not just for all of mankind, but for you. You, whoever you are, before you were ever born, were considered worth dying for, by the God who knew and foresaw you, even then.

 Philippians 2 goes on: “Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:9-11, ESV).

Meet the Lord of lords, who left His throne, and died for you, here.


Please pray with me…

“Dear Father God,

You amaze us with Your power, Father. You are beautiful, O Lord, King Jesus. Thank You for hearing our prayers, and for acting upon those prayers, in any way you see fit.

We praise You, that it is Your Heart, that people would be freed, healed, and restored. We praise You, that You know how to best free, heal, and restore people, even if it doesn’t look the way we would sometimes like it to.

Father God, we are so thankful, that you have FREED these 22 young women from CAPTIVITY and BONDAGE!!! You are a GOOD, GOOD FATHER, Father God! We stay in awe of You, Father, and are so thankful for the fact that You are our Savior.

Father God, we just lift these 22 young girls up to You, now. Father God, please continue to make Yourself very real in these young women’s lives… please continue to free them, spiritually, mentally, and physically, of all they have been through. We know that ultimately, this trauma will stay with them for the rest of their lives, and we pray that You would help them at every turn, to grow, heal, and change, always becoming closer to You. Let this tragedy be turned around for Your Glory, and their good, in their lives.

Father God, we also pray for the Chibok girls that are still captive. For whatever reason, Father God, please bring these young women to You– please work and move powerfully, on their behalf, so that they might trust in You, and that even the members of Boko Haram would turn and repent to You. Please save these young girls, spiritually, and physically, however You Will.

Father God, please help the worldwide church– but more specifically, the churches in Northern Nigeria– to continue to point these young girls to You, and to the healing, comfort, and restoration that You provide. Father, please give Your People the resources they need to love, edify, uplift, and just “do life” with these young women.

Please continue to use the people of this world– Believer or not– to set these people free. Let them ALL come to know that You are the author of Salvation, the Giver of Life, and the Lover of our Souls.

In Jesus’ Name I pray, Amen.”

Thank you for your continued prayers and support! Please comment or contact me with any prayer requests you may have, or if you need a listening ear. Jesus Loves You! ❤

Freed Indeed: Liberty from the Trauma

As I read this article, my heart went out to those who have escaped the hands of the Boko Haram, but who have not yet escaped the clutches of fear, horrific flashbacks, and evil memories.

These girls need to be truly free; they need to live lives void of the fear of such a terrifying experience as being in captivity. Christ speaks of such a life in John 10:

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10, NIV)

This kind of life can only be found in knowing Christ. Christ doesn’t want to be apart of one’s life; He wants to change people’s whole lives and identities. Where there was once bondage to sin, shame, and death, He wants to grant true, light, victorious freedom to His people– He wants sons, not slaves.

“The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son does remain forever. So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.” (John 8:35-36, NIV)

As stated above, it is only in Christ that these young women can be free. It is only in and through faith in Christ that these girls’ traumatizing experiences can be healed, and their lives restored. But, what happens when this doesn’t happen quickly, but over painstaking amounts of time? What happens when everything in the world makes it look like Christ is not at work?

We must, after everything, put on the armor of God and stand firm, as Ephesians 6:13 exhorts. We must remember that Christ’s timing is not our timing (2 Peter 3:9), and that “…there is a time and a way for everything, although man’s trouble lies heavy on him” (Ecclesiastes 8:6, “for” omitted). Yet, in the midst of all this standing and persevering, it’s even more important to remember that Christ is a compassionate God who considers His people His friends: “Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you” (John 15:15b, NIV). Knowing that we are God’s friends allows us to “cast all [our] anxiety on Him, for He cares on us” (1 Peter 5:7, NIV). Truly, these girls do not need to be heavy laden. In Christ, the burdens of their painful past can be lifted. In Christ, they can find true rest.

 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30, NIV)

It is also important to remember that Christ sees their burdens, whether they bring them to Him or not. The same kind of distress these people have experienced was experienced by Israel during their exile in Babylon. Israel was destroyed; their walls were in shambles, and the people were in Babylonian captivity. During such times of loss, it was almost impossible to keep in mind that Christ was for His children, and knew their plight. Yet, these very truths were all affirmed in Isaiah 49:

“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 (ruined) walls are ever before me.” (Isaiah 49:15-16, “ruined” mine)

The girls who are now in physical freedom must be free spiritually, mentally, and emotionally by Christ from the bondage of their past terrifying experiences. They need to know that just like Israel, they have not been forgotten– and that Christ is near to them during such horrible times. These girls need to find rest in the arms of Jesus, both inside and outside captivity. For these reasons, we pray.


Please pray for these beautiful people, that as they continue on in their normal everyday lives, that the Lord would show Himself to them through any and all means, that they may know Him. Pray that as they know Him– and only as they know Him– their minds and hearts would slowly (but quite surely) be healed of the trauma they’ve experienced. Pray that as they continue to seek the Lord, He’d use these horrible experiences for good, as He has promised:

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28, NIV)

Amongst these things, also pray that the men, women, girls and boys still in captivity would be used to bring their captors to Christ, and would be favorably treated while in captivity. Pray that they’d be out of captivity, and back with their families, soon.

Let the restoration, strengthening, and healing of these beautiful, invaluable hearts and minds begin.

“Hephzibah”: In Search of True Identity

A pastor once told my Young Adult’s group something along the lines of the sentiment “You can only come to know who you truly are when you come to know who Christ truly is.” 

At the time, it was exactly what I needed to hear. I have seemingly always known Christ as my Lord and Savior, having been raised in the church, but I had made God out to be a God who was angry with me, a God who either was pleased because “I did good” or was displeased because I disobeyed or “didn’t do enough.” Due to this, I suffered from some seriously low self-esteem, OCD-like attitudes, and being overly critical of myself and others. Because I didn’t see God for who He’s shown Himself to be through His Word– that is, as the God who is quick to forgive, slow to anger, and abounding in grace and mercy, as stated in Exodus 34:6— I beat myself up for things that the Lord only wanted me to accept His grace and goodness in.

Needless to say, how a person views God affects every aspect of how they view themselves, other people, and the world around them. A distorted, non-biblical view of God can have huge consequences. Reading about the recent attack by female suicide bombers in Maiduguri, Nigeria, this could be no closer to the truth. On November 25th, 2014, 2 young women entered a busy marketplace in Maiduguri, screaming, and detonated their bombs, killing 30 people while injuring countless others. This attack is not an isolated incident; at least 2 other attacks of the same kind, involving female suicide bombers, have occurred since the 267 young girls from Chibok, Nigeria, were kidnapped in April. And with reports that three teenage girls from Colorado, USA tried traveling to Turkey to join ISIS, the concept of a self-identity in sight of God’s identity is an ever more pressing idea that needs to be brought to light.

What could make young, teenage girls want to join such horrific terrorist groups such as Boko Haram and ISIS? Many experts have stated that these groups portray themselves as a brotherhood fighting a holy war, creating a false sense of family; the idea of belonging to something greater can be, and has been, alluring for many young girls who feel like outcasts in their own communities. Looking for Truth, for love, for acceptance, and for identity, these young girls fall into the trap that the enemy uses frequently: trying to find belonging in the world outside of Christ. Because many of these young girls are Muslim to begin with, it can be all too easy for them join extremist groups that offer a completely fake version of the truth, love, and acceptance that they– and truly, all of us– are craving.

Jesus didn’t claim to only point to the way, the truth, or the life; He claimed to BE the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Only Jesus can offer us true identity in Him; how He sees us is THE most important thing in the universe. The apostle Paul declares this truth in Galatians:

“Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.” 
Galatians 1:10, NIV

When Christ is the one whom we’re living for, we know who we are in Him, stated in 1 Peter: “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light” (1 Peter 2:9, NIV). As people, we can try to form our own identity, but there can never be a true sense of self, of being loved, and of acceptance from God until we accept Christ Jesus as our Personal Lord and Savior.

Because of this, my heart goes out to these young men and women being told by the enemy that ISIS and Boko Haram offer something only Christ can offer. It’s heart-wrenching to know that what all these people want can be simply found in Christ, but that He may be the last person and place they come to for it. It’s sickening to know that what they think is a hug is actually a punch in the gut, a slap in the face; that what many think will bring them life is the very thing that will bring them death. This applies to more than Muslim girls trying to join ISIS or the Boko Haram; this same concept applies to any and all people trying to find belonging outside of Christ.

When the Lord first put the Chibok girls upon my heart, He showed me through Isaiah 62:4 that He saw them as “Hephzibah”– the ones He delights in. Though we may forget their plight, He never will; though they may be shrouded in the darkness of black hijabs, forced to be married off, being harmed and injured in every evil way imaginable, they are not what they are going through, but are dearly loved by God. These men and women in the Boko Haram are just as loved as those in captivity. Coming to know Christ, these men and women can be transformed from hateful, death-filled supporters of Boko Haram and ISIS to beloved children of God, walking in Love, instead of the heartless, destructive paths they’ve been walking in (Ephesians 5:1-2). If only these young women knew Christ, they’d know that they are delighted in and very loved– not because of anything they’ve done, but because of what Christ did.


Pray with me today that the young women and girls who’ve voluntarily joined ISIS and Boko Haram (BH) would see ISIS and the BH for the evil, demonic power they really are. Pray that these people would come to see who God truly is, through the lens of Christ. Pray that they’d see the darkness separated from the light as they come to know Christ as their personal Lord and Savior.
Pray for our sisters in captivity, that the Lord would use them to bring others to Him by the power of His Holy Spirit; pray also that the Lord would soften the hearts of the Boko Haram leaders, and would place in them hearts of flesh as they come to know His great love– for it’s His great kindness alone that brings others to repentance (Romans 2:4, NIV). Pray not only for the girls seeking ISIS and BH as a place of belonging, but pray for all of those who are searching for meaning and belonging outside of Christ. Ask the Lord to put people on your heart to pray for and reach out to, to show the love and acceptance of Christ to. The world is looking for identity, and it is only truly found in Jesus’ arms.

Because in Christ Jesus, we are all named Hephzibah: Delighted In. Let us rejoice in this today, praying that more and more all over the Earth would take on this identity as well.