An Open Letter to the Internally Displaced Peoples of Nigeria

I read in this report that 86% of displaced peoples in Northern Nigeria, approximately 1.2 million people, are currently afraid of going back to their home towns and villages in Northeast Nigeria. This letter was written to these people, in response.

To the People in Northeast Nigeria, Beloved by Christ:

Hello. You may never know me; and I may never know you. Living halfway across the world from you, I have not experienced your culture, and I do not truly know the world you live in.

I will not pretend that I understand the pain you have experienced; I cannot.

I look at pictures of your children, and I cry at their gaunt, fragile bodies.
I hear about the land you once inhabited, your homestead, where you once grew your wheat, making a living. I have heard that those people, those locusts with human flesh on, stole it, stole it all, after stealing the lives of your loved ones– those who tried to escape.

I hear about these things. But how could I ever know them? It seems trite, even insulting, to write such a letter to you.

So much, so many has been stolen from you. Your fathers. Your mothers. Your children. Your lovers. Your husbands, your wives. Your innocence. Your homes and villages, wrecked by these locusts with human skin on.

And the miles you walked, ran, and hid to get away. As scorching as the heat that once made Hagar cry out in the desert, you walked your weary bodies across the highest of temperatures to get away from those locusts– those men who rob, and kill, and destroy.

You may have almost died… maybe some of those closest to you did die. I could never be able to understand this feeling: the horror you experienced as they slipped away.

All I can do is cry, when I think about it. Cry for you, cry for them. Cry for the pain that now keeps you awake at night.

By now, millions of people, in the same predicament as you, have found some sort of shelter. An internally displaced people’s camp, a friend’s house. Maybe even an old school building, one similar to the one your children learned in, before it was all taken away.

Maybe you have been there for one week. Maybe it’s been six months; maybe it’s been whole years, since you once saw your homeland. And they want you to go back.

The government, who, for many of you, did nothing to protect you, and nothing to disarm your enemies– they now say it is okay to go home.

I cannot imagine how you feel; I know that probably everybody feels something different. But according to this report, it says that most of you are afraid. Afraid of the known; afraid of the unknown. Afraid of the past; afraid of the present. Afraid of the future.

Friend, if this is where you are, I want to encourage you.

I know that I could never fathom the many atrocities you have been forced to experience.

But there was a time in my life, where much of what I held dear was stolen, too.
Food did not enter my mouth. My “homeland” of friends had to be left. For a time, I felt I had lost my own family.

The details of this story are for another day. I went through the most painful, heartbreaking time of my life, and let me tell you: I was a desert. I was dry bones. At times, I literally lacked even water; my own hands would not give it.

Fear enclosed me on all sides. I was afraid of the past happening again, and was afraid of what my future would hold. Friend, I was terrified.

But this is the Truth: even when I did not, could not see Him, Jesus Christ– the Lord of Heaven and Earth– was working for my good. Even when I felt, even when I was, alone, He was there, with me, in the darkness, chaos, and confusion.

When I was thirsting, spiritually and physically, Jesus quenched my thirst with His Promise: “I will never, never fail you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5, NIV).

hebrews 13.5-6.JPG

Hebrews 13:5-6, NIV

Friend, His Presence, according to Hebrews 13:5-6, makes Him your Helper. The Hand you hold during this trial, this storm. And when you are on the other side of this?

I pray that you will be saying, “Because He is near me, I will not fear.”

 

Jesus is Your Helper. Sounds trite, doesn’t it?
Especially coming from the mouth of a person who doesn’t know the first thing about your tragedy.

But I do know about mine.

It’s been three years later, and I can promise you this: If you place your trust in Jesus Christ, none of this will be wasted.

And He, being Your Good Shepherd, will give you life. Life, abundantly.

joel 2.25-26 finalHe will restore back all of what those locusts stole. He will restore you.

So, don’t be afraid. Be wise. Be cautious. But, with Christ on your side,

Don’t be afraid.



We are praying for you. You matter; You are Loved.

I want to bless you, by praying for you, here.

“Dear Jesus, Thank You for each and every one of these people. Thank You for keeping them alive.
Please let them hear, today, of Your Unfailing Love.
Please help them to dream again. Help them to flourish, and restore ALL that these locusts stole from them.

In Jesus’ Name we pray,

Amen.”

Again, we love you.
Yours in Prayer to Christ,
Annalee (of ISAIAH 62 PRAYER MINISTRY)


“So I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten, The crawling locust, The consuming locust, And the chewing locust, My great army which I sent among you. You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied, And praise the name of the Lord your God, Who has dealt wondrously with you; And My people shall never be put to shame.”

(Joel 2:25-26, NKJV)



Jesus came, that we might have Life, and have it abundantly.
In fact, He paid the ultimate price for us to have eternal life.

Learn more about this God, who lost everything, that we might gain everything in Him, here.

 

Please continue praying for those who have been internally displaced from their homes, in Northeast Nigeria.

We are called to be Jesus’ Hands and Feet, being the practical way others can claim that Jesus is their Helper. You may find a great resource for charities to give to that are currently involved in aiding IDPs in the Boko Haram insurgency, here.

Thank you for all of your prayers and support!

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Asking the Honest Questions

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?”God, where are you- final picture

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.God can handle your questions

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.

Dear Jesus,

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.

Dear Jesus,

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.

Dear Jesus,
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,

Amen.”

 

Sharing Christ: The Path to True Peace

They have done it again.
Again, Boko Haram has pillaged, stolen, and de-stabilized.

On Wednesday, June 7th, Boko Haram razed parts of Maiduguri, killing “at least 14 people,” according to VOA News’ news article. In the attack, gunned Boko Haram members and suicide bombers attacked the innocent men and women of Maiduguri. It is the first attack made by Boko Haram in 18 months, almost 6 months after President Buhari claimed that the group is “technically defeated.”

Abubukar Shekau, the leader of a faction of Boko Haram, had shocking words for those watching the video Boko Haram published not long after.

“We are hale and hearty, contrary to claims that we have been killed… God has enriched us with the arms and ammunition on display, and we shall deploy such weapons we seized against you… There is no dialogue between us, only fire for fire.”
(source, VOA News)

These people believe that God has given them victory. And they have killed again.

 

As if this violence were not enough, a horrific mass shooting on republican representatives was had yesterday, on June 14th, 2017. The shooting, happening in Alexandria, Virginia, has left Congressman Steve Scalise in critical condition.

 

The violence in Northeast Nigeria causes one to ask… who is God to those who believe these things? Who is God to a muslim?

To muslims, God is almighty, but far off. While one can know His Will, they cannot evercannot know him truly know Him, Himself (source). This fact, in and of itself, is a thing to be deeply pitied for those who believe in “allah.” But when one thinks about it, everyone who does not have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ does not know God, and cannot ever know God apart from Christ. 

Jesus is the One who taught that to hate someone in one’s heart is to kill them; and, sadly, the horrific shooting had in Virginia has displayed just how angry and violent a person can be. People’s need to know Christ is, now more than ever, a very heavy, relevant, real subject.

Every person reading this, including even those publishing it, knows at least one person who does not know Christ. While the islamic religion is a very false, sad one in that it keeps people from knowing God personally, the idea that many people– not just those with hijabs on– are being kept from knowing God by faulty religion, sin, and/or simply their own unbelief is cause for much sorrow, too.

The only real solution to this violence has always been, and will always be, Jesus Christ. People NEED to know Him. And for people to know Him, He must be shared by those who already know Him.

It was the apostle Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit, who wrote in Romans, “How, then, can already know himthey call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them” (Romans 10:14)? We are the Light of the world; a city on a hill cannot be hidden (Matthew 5:14-16).

When a person shares Christ, they are sharing the ONLY way to Peace with God the Father, through Christ: the only way to true Peace.

Amidst the violence happening, in both Northeast Nigeria, America (and the rest of the world, for that matter), who is Christ putting on your heart to reach out to with the Gospel? Let the Holy Spirit do His Work in and through you, and reach out to that person, today. After all, no one knows when it may be too late.



Do you know Jesus?

2,000 years ago, Jesus stepped on the scene of a very lost and broken people.
Crippled by the law, and lost, without a hope in the world as the Apostle Paul says (Ephesians 2:12), mankind needed a Savior from the mess they had gotten themselves into.

Jesus was, still is, and will forever be, that Savior. Read more about Him, and meet Him today. Click here.


Please pray with me…

“Dear Lord Jesus,
Thank You for the ability to know You. Thank You that You did it all, so that we might live, and know You personally.
Dear Jesus, we pray that you would fortify Northern Nigeria, and keep it from harm– both physically and spiritually. We ask that You would please bring Your Good News to those in Norther Nigeria who have never heard it, and are in bondage to false religion, sin, and unbelief.
Please fortify the soldiers in Northern Nigeria as well; they can only truly win life’s battles with You, dear Jesus. “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God” (Psalm 20:7). We pray this over the soldiers in Nigeria, and all over the world, Father God.

Dear Lord Jesus,
Please defeat the members of Boko Haram– not so that they would die in their sin, but so that they would be humbled and come to know You, the One, True Living God.

Dear Jesus, we also pray over America. Father God, America, Nigeria, and the entire world needs to come back to You. Please forgive us for our sin and turning away from You; we now ask that You would give us another chance, and that there would be mass revival! Send us out, Father God. Help us to be Loving and Brave as we share You with our neighbors.

In Jesus’ Name I pray,
Amen.”

Thank you for your prayers!!! Please continue to pray for the Chibok girls, that they would be found, as there are 113 young women left in captivity.

 

Two is Better than One: The Courage to Forgive in Christ Alone

Edit: During the writing of this post, the Lord revealed one thing to me: while I was faithful in writing about many different prayer needs in Nigeria, Africa, and the people of it, I’ve been silent– both online and, sadly, in real life– on the many CRAZY, SIMPLY AWE-INSPIRING things Christ has done over the past year or so, especially in the last few months!!! Here I’ve been, praying for the freedom of the Chibok girls and the many other captives of the Boko Haram, but I haven’t spent time REJOICING in the fact that nearly 700 WOMEN AND GIRLS HAVE BEEN RESCUED BY THE NIGERIAN MILITARY FROM BOKO HARAM!!! This freedom is beautiful– more beautiful than one could express with words, though I pray the Lord gives me the words to sufficiently express it. Take some time today to PRAISE JESUS FOR THE AMAZING WAYS HE HAS ANSWERED PRAYER!!! Praise Him! Hallelujah!


The fights, long-held grievances and under-the-breath comments erupted into a riot like a domestic natural gas explosion. While the community seemed fine enough on the surface, just as natural gas has little to no visible qualities, one could sense the tension in the air: in the hot, arid heat of April, the scent– and sense– of violence could be noticeably felt and smelt. Continue reading

Child Soldiers: Precious in the Eyes of Christ

There are countless children and teenagers being forced into the Sharia-law enforcing Boko Haram. On December 25th, it was reported that one 13 year old girl was forced into Boko Haram by her father, who was also apart of the terrorist group. Being apart of this group did not spare her from deadly violence, though; members asked the girl– and eventually forced her– to be a suicide bomber with two other young girls in the city of Kano, Nigeria. Leaving her suicide vest behind in the taxi she rode, this young girl narrowly escaped certain death, being injured in the leg by the blast caused by the two other suicide bombers.

Continue reading