May 12, 2014

#BringBackOurGirls: A Call to Prayer

"How is it possible that 276 girls could be taken from their beds in the dead of night in a place that is supposed to be...safe?"

This quote from a CNN World report attempts to make sense of the horrific, April 14th abduction of nearly 300 teenage women in Nigeria. Over the past few weeks, awareness of the atrocity has traveled worldwide - largely by means of the Twitter hashtag #BringBackOurGirls. For the few of you who may be currently positioned under a rock somewhere, militant Boko Haram terrorist group (whose name means "Western Education is Sin") kidnapped these girls in order to enact their extremist view of the Islamic faith upon them. Since it is reported that the girls' school was "Christian," their captors - of course - are trying to convert them to Islam. And, claiming that these girls should not be pursuing education or careers, the terrorists also declare the girls will be sold as brides or sex slaves to make their point heard 'round the world. 

This news pricked my heart hard, as modern human slavery - especially sex trafficking - is akin to falling into a virtually inescapable black hole of the worst, most depraved sins imaginable. Once a person has been sold, he/she is very difficult to recover. Often, young women who are sold for sex are purchased numerous times and moved far away from their hometowns under the darkest shroud of secrecy. While the president of Nigeria has declared that he will find the girls, let's fact facts: this will be a tall order at best. Experts have since stated that they feel the terrorists will probably not sell the girls outright, "but they could be used as sex slaves for fighters, forced into marriages or traded for ransom. They may also be used as human shields in any military operation against Boko Haram" (says Shehu Sani, north Nigerian human rights activist). None of these end results even approach pleasant.

The most recent report on the abductions is this: the terrorist leader released a video of approximately 100 girls seated on the ground, wearing traditional Muslim hijabs, reciting prayers to Allah. He stated that they had converted to Islam, and he would now consider trading them for the release of convicted members of his terrorist cell. While the video appears legit, no one can confirm that these are indeed the lost girls. Hopefully they are…because that would mean that a good portion of them are still alive and still together. But with the leader being a criminal, this could all be a mere photo op.

So, what are we to do about such injustice?

1) We can continue to raise awareness about the issue. #BringBackOurGirls was first tweeted on April 23rd by a Nigerian lawyer, and it has been tweeted over 1.6 million times to-date. Also, a 2011 campaign out of Hollywood entitled "Real Men Don't Buy Girls" has recently been re-publicized to bring awareness to the plight of the Nigerian women. I'm certainly not gonna' say that raising awareness is a bad thing...for it does help others to realize what's going on and to get involved however they can. But this article should also be taken into consideration, as it states that American hashtags and other shows of solidarity may well do more harm than good (legitimizing more US military action in Africa and thus handicapping Nigeria's own response).  

2) We can get involved in our own localities' fights against human trafficking. IPATH is the task force here in Indiana, and there are 42 such organizations nationwide currently being funded by the Department of Justice. If the terroristic threat of selling these girls into the sex trade has pricked your heart as it has mine, get involved with one of these task forces near you. Many non-profits and Christian ministries have also been set up for the specific purpose of fighting human trafficking, and a somewhat comprehensive list can be found here. Join with one actively or through giving financial support.


3) Above all, we can pray. Prayer joins us hand-in-hand with our Almighty God as He goes about His sovereign work around the globe. Remember the endorsement of prayer found in James 5:16: "The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working." While we may not be able to join the fight "in the flesh" over in Nigeria, our prayers are being lifted to a most powerful God who cares deeply for the plight of the powerless. He is the one who can work through the local government and military to find these stolen young women.


And as you pray, pray specifically.


Pray for the girls. Pray for them to be strong and bold. Pray that they are supernaturally protected from the physical, sexual, and emotional abuse that criminal men seek to force upon them. Pray that they are wise with their words and actions. Pray that they find (or keep) true faith in God. If some have already converted to Islam, pray that they return to the one, true God. If they haven't converted, pray that they do not renounce Christ in the face of torture and/or death. Pray that the girls don't lose hope in their captivity. Pray that they can either escape (as this girl did) or be found, against all odds. And pray with fervency that they are one day able to heal from unspeakable trauma. 


Pray for the captors/sellers. Pray that these men make mistakes. Pray that their arrogance and egos get in the way of clear judgment. Pray that they are apprehended quickly. Pray that sickness befalls them, and they are unable to carry out their evil plans. And pray that the Holy Spirit will convict them of their sin and cause them to return the girls.


Pray for the buyers. If some of the girls have already been sold for sex (or if they are in the future), pray that the buyers are convicted of their sin as well and do the girls no harm. Pray for impotence - that they are not able to rape the young women they purchase. And pray for them to make errors in judgment that give the women opportunities to flee.


Pray for the rescuers.
Pray that they are fearless and forceful in their hunt. Pray that they are able to sustain with little sleep so they can search both day and night. Pray for wisdom and discernment on the chase. Pray that they find and follow leads. And pray that they are quicker and smarter than the terrorists they are pursuing. 

Remember: our God is bigger than this tragedy. May we join with Him now to #BringBackOurGirls through prayer, and may the Lord answer with His swift justice upon the unrighteous and His miraculous redemption of the lost and broken.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for sharing this. How easy it is for me to forget that prayer is the one thing I can do that will for sure make a difference.

    ReplyDelete

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