The Forgotten Girls of Nigeria
Tuesday marked the 100th day since the terrorist group Boko Haram kidnapped approximately 200 schoolgirls from their school in Nigeria. Deborah Sanya, an eighteen-year-old who managed to escape the kidnappers described her ordeal to the New Yorker magazine. She said the terrorists showed up on the night of the abduction dressed in Nigerian military uniforms and told the girls they were there to take them to safety. After the men took food and other supplies from the school, they set the building on fire. At first she and the other girls thought they were safe, however once the men started shooting and shouting, “Allahu Akbar”, she realized the men were not Nigerian soldiers. “I thought it was the end of my life. …There were many, many of them.”
She recounted how she begged God for help and watched as several girls jumped out of the truck they were in. Eventually they reached the terrorists’ camp. After a couple of hours she and a couple of her friends fled behind some trees. Despite the terrorists’ demands to return, the girls kept running until they reached the safety of a friendly stranger’s home. The next day they called their families.
Sanya’s father described the conflicting emotions he now has. Although grateful to have his daughter returned, he feels guilt for those who are still missing. “Every house in Chibok has been affected by the kidnapping.”
Boko Haram has continued their attacks throughout Nigeria and have ignored international cries for the girls to be released. Earlier in July, Boko Haram leader, Abubaker Shekau released a video that mocked the “#BringBackOurGirls” campaign. The social media campaign brought worldwide attention to the plight of the kidnapped girls. The Twitter accounts of celebrities quickly brought attention to the kidnapping. United States First Lady Michelle Obama received nearly 58,000 retweets of the “#BringBackOurGirls” hashtag. Sadly the social media campaign has waned, although at least one U.S. Representative, Frederica Wilson (D-FL) is still attempting to encourage U.S. celebrities to keep the Nigerian girls’ story in the news. She has promised to tweet until the girls are returned to their families.
The Associated Press reported today that eleven parents of the missing girls would never be reunited with their daughters. Boko Haram killed seven fathers of the girls in further attacks, and at least four more parents have died from illnesses that the community blames on the stress of losing their daughters – such as heart failure and high blood pressure. A community leader described the anguish of one father, “[he] just went into a kind of coma and kept repeating the names of his daughters, until life left him.”
Social media campaigns may be short-lived, but we serve a God who has not forgotten these kidnapped girls.
Jesus taught in Matthew that a sparrow could not fall to the ground without our Father knowing it. Our God knows exactly where each kidnapped girl is being hidden. Pray that He will reveal to the Nigerian army where each of these girls have been taken, and will give them wisdom to rescue them and bring them home to their families.
Pray for each of these young girls that God will surround them with His angels, comfort and heal them. Pray for their grief stricken families that they will be reunited with their daughters.
A massive assault by Boko Haram in the Nigerian town of Damboa displaced more than 15,000 people on Monday. Over 2,000 people were killed by the terrorist group in the past six months. Pray for the protection of the people of Nigeria – especially for the Christian communities that are often the target of the Islamist group.