THIS BLOG WAS CREATED THREE YEARS AGO. It all started with community, prayer, worship, and seeking Jesus’ Face.
You see, three years ago, I was apart of an online women’s Bible studying community. On the website, one would read whatever that day’s Bible passage and devotional was, and then would be able to comment on it and converse about it in the “Comments” section. I read this website’s devotional daily, and made it a habit to interact with the other women on the site.
About 2 weeks after the Chibok girls were initially kidnapped (on April 14th, 2014), I read a comment on that day’s Bible study devotional from a woman (here, she will be called Noni).
Noni said she was a citizen of Nigeria, and had been praying for the Chibok girls, who were then in the public eye. She admitted that though she had prayed, she hadn’t done much else, and asked the rest of us in this platform for bible study to pray and fast for the Chibok girls. She asked that we would pray so boldly as to ask Christ to bring the girls home at the end of the week. Numerous comments were written, in reply, agreeing to pray and fast for the Chibok girls; mine was one of them.
When I read this comment, I immediately took to the internet to learn more about what had happened. Honestly, these girls and their plight had reached my ears before hand, but the news had gone in one ear and out the other.
But this time was different. Reading the newspaper headlines and subsequent articles, my heart broke. Bowing to the ground, I started to cry.
I cried. I sobbed. And I prayed, with fervency that I had never experienced for someone else, before. I immediately decided to fast sweets and snacks for the Chibok schoolgirls, and I stayed up praying.
At the end of that week of prayer and fasting, as the Chibok girls still lacked freedom, I believed Jesus was leading me to continue to pray and to fast sweets and snacks, until every one of the Chibok girls were free. I agreed to it.
This is an edited excerpt from my parent’s Facebook page, when I initially had started praying (I had shut down my own account a few months prior to this for unrelated reasons).
Hey guys, it’s AnnaLee here. There’s been a lot put on my heart, and it’s time I stop letting my own life’s convenience get in the way of reality, justice, compassion, and SALVATION for people all around the world, especially in Nigeria.
At the end of April-early May, a woman from an online devotional website asked the community of women reading, to pray. What ensued was a flood of women coming together in prayer, pledges of fasting things for these girls as they sought the Lord Jesus, and words of encouragement for all people involved. I immediately felt led to learn more about what was happening, and as I read articles and watched the video the Boko Haram released, I was deeply and profoundly grieved for the entire state of Nigeria, especially that of the 267 abducted girls.
I became frustrated and complacent, until Christ confronted me with this: “Why did you stop caring? I never stopped caring. I am near to them. These hands bled for THEM too.”
In prayer and fasting, I asked Jesus to show me what to do next for the Chibok girls. He answered this prayer, one day, as I was praying about the Chibok girls; He gave me Isaiah 62.
“Because I love Zion, because my heart yearns for Jerusalem, I will not cease to pray for her or to cry out to God on her behalf until she shines forth in his righteousness and is glorious in his salvation. The nations shall see your righteousness. Kings shall be blinded by your glory; and God will confer on you a new name… Never again shall you be called “The God-forsaken Land” or the “Land That God Forgot.” Your new name will be “The Land of God’s Delight” and “The Bride,” for the Lord delights in you and will claim you as his own. Your children will care for you, O Jerusalem, with joy like that of a young man who marries a virgin; and God will rejoice over you as a bridegroom with his bride.” (Isaiah 62:1-5)
What He showed me next is what changed my heart towards all of this:
“O Jerusalem, I have set intercessors on your walls who shall cry to God all day and all night for the fulfillment of his promises. Take no rest, all you who pray, and give God no rest until he establishes Jerusalem and makes her respected and admired throughout the earth.” (Isaiah 62:6-7)
It was: “AnnaLee, don’t stop praying. I hear you. And don’t let others forget. Don’t be silent. Bring them to cry out to me, too.”
Although the intended context for Isaiah 62 was for Israel, I definitely believe it is the Word Christ gave me for the Chibok girls. With a set mission, I began to ask Jesus what I could do that would tangibly fulfill the calling Christ had given me to pray for the girls, spread the news, and encourage others to pray for them, as well. Later on, Jesus also gave me Hope through Isaiah 49:
“to say to the captives, ‘Come out,’ and to those in darkness, ‘Be free!’ …Can plunder be taken from warriors, or captives be rescued from the fierce 25 But this is what the Lord says: ‘Yes, captives will be taken from warriors, and plunder retrieved from the fierce; I will contend with those who contend with you, and your children I will save. 26 I will make your oppressors eat their own flesh; they will be drunk on their own blood, as with wine. Then all mankind will know that I, the Lord, am your Savior, your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob.”
(Isaiah 49:9, 24-26, NIV)
Spending time in prayer and fasting, my answer came one day when I speaking to my father over the phone. “What about bracelets?” he asked. “There were POW/MIA bracelets made for those lost in the war, so what about bracelets with a slogan on them for the girls?”
Immediately, my heart leaped for joy; I knew that this was exactly what I was supposed to do.
I got to work making the bracelets, and, over time, was able to pass them out to friends, family, and even strangers, as Christ led. Apart of the Facebook post, I offered to make and give these bracelets to anyone who would want one:
Please let me know if ANY of you would want one of these bracelets. I’m not looking for donations or money. I will send/bring them to you free of charge, with the prayer that:
1) They’d inspire deeper, more intimate, more honest seeking of a relationship with The God who LOVES YOU, no matter WHO you are who you THINK you are. Who is ABOVE every philosophical, political, racial, cultural, and religious divide seeking to muck up His face and His mighty purpose for this entire Earth, all of Mankind: to KNOW Him through the death and resurrection of His son, Christ Jesus, being SET FREE from the sin of old life by His blood alone (Eph 2:8, Heb 10:14) .
2) After this, that in this adventurous, passionate, scandalous relationship full of Grace with the God who has saved you, He’d use these bracelets to stir up the hearts of His people for those who are still gagged, bound, beaten and bruised by the sin of the this world– both physically and spiritually. That these would remind and inspire their wearers (and the people who see them) to be peaceMAKERS, not just peacekeepers; to be people who Pray earnestly for the abducted school girls of Chibok, the community they inhabit, their oppressors (who are oppressed themselves), and all kinds of injustice everywhere.
After much prayer, fasting, and seeking Jesus, I was led to create a prayer blog to go along with the bracelets, where I was able to update people on the stolen Chibok girls, the insurgency in Nigeria, and anything else Christ led me to write about. That was the formation of ISAIAH 62 PRAYER MINISTRY.
Three years later, much has changed. 164 Chibok girls, as well as countless other women kidnapped by Boko Haram, have been released/escaped from Boko Haram captivity. A new president, President Muhammadu Buhari, came into office in 2015.
The making of prayer bracelets, because of unforeseen life events, were stopped; but, the prayer blog, ISAIAH 62 PRAYER MINISTRY, still lives on today, updating followers about the Chibok girls and the insurgency in Nigeria, while also offering comforting and encouraging insights, as Christ leads.
Though much has changed, Jesus’ promise concerning these Chibok girls has not. In that initial Facebook post, I wrote one last thing.
“These girls” are not just “ours.” They are HIS, and He has NOT EVER forgotten them. And we can no longer be silent. Because His arm is not too short to save– and when He promises something, HE MEANS IT.
This statement, three years later, is still true today.
May we not be silent. With all we have, may we cry out.
Everybody, be blessed.