It is now more than 130 days since hundreds of schoolgirls were kidnapped by Boko Haram militants in the middle of the night, from the village of Chibok on 14 April.
Open Doors has kept in constant contact with the community, and recently visited 140 of the parents to deliver a new batch of letters of encouragement and prayer from our supporters around the world – including some from Australia.
Our worker said the mere thought of the 800km journey to Chibok was “terrifying”. The journey took two days, due to necessary detours to avoid towns Boko Haram had recently claimed. Beforehand, he was filled with doubt and prayed and pleaded with God for direction and peace. Along the way, he and his local contact were urged to turn back at every security check point. Civilians, and indeed, “everyone”, walking along the roads told them not to continue. At one point, their car was searched by armed youths who they could see were not Nigerian. But at each step, they prayed and continued their journey, neither feeling God wanted them to cancel the trip. Our worker continues:
“We were thankful to reach Chibok, but were shocked at the state of the town. The continued insecurity has left Chibok all but destroyed. It was almost deserted. A few animals roamed the streets. Most people have left. There is no functioning school and no functioning hospital. Many churches have been burned. Food is scarce and it is becoming very hard to make ends meet. Circumstances are not much better in surrounding villages.
“The faces in front of me evoke pity from deep within my soul. I see a mixture of trauma, grief and worry carved into the features. Anxiety over their daughters is haunting them. The courageous ones among them are trying to pick up the pieces. Every day they walk to their farms, intending to get some work done. But at the end of the day they have accomplished very little because it was just another day spent in tears and turmoil. As a result many are facing hunger and stress related illness.
“Initially there was a lot of news coverage about their plight. But it seems the world is moving on. Not much is being said anymore, and there has been no news to cheer these parents’ hearts.
“I had been asked not to drag out the visit. Everyone is on edge. The Boko Haram threat remains very real. The militants have sent several letters to the Christian enclave telling residents to leave. No one knows when they will strike next. Experience has taught them to never rest assured.
“There are not many rushing to Chibok at an hour such as this. We are glad we had made it.
“When I greet them in the precious Name of the Most-high God, the Creator of Heaven and Earth, our Maker, it is not empty pulpit language, but a reminder to these embattled believers who have not enjoyed fellowship for who knows how long, that our Maker knows them and cares for them.
“I remind them that we are one Body, and therefore we feel their pain. They are not alone in this battle. None of us knows where their daughters are, but God knows where they are. He will bring them back at the appointed time.
“’We are visiting you because we want to instil hope in you in your pain… know, as a ministry, we are with you through prayer in your homes, in your hiding place and at your farms. We will not rest until God looks upon us with mercy and bring your children back.’
“After the message of encouragement, I sense the atmosphere lift somewhat and a greater hopefulness settling in. We round off the meeting by distributing the prayer messages along with financial assistance towards food and medicine.
“When it is time for me to leave, some of the parents walk me to my car, thanking me profusely for coming. They are stunned by the amount of love and concern they have been shown.
“’I marvel at how the love of Christ binds people from different nations of the world together. I have brothers and sisters across the globe who have sleepless nights about my situation. God bless Open Doors for sharing our story to the outside world. The Lord alone will bless you abundantly,’ shared Kallu.
“’All this while I have been thinking about my life and asking God about my situation. I thought I was alone in this battle. I thought everyone hated me. I concluded that my life has come to an end, because there is no one who cares for me and my situation. However, now I know that people around the world are praying for me and my situation. I am at peace now. I imagine the love of Christ flowing through my veins, giving me hope in my hopelessness. All these prayers sent to me from these wonderful people are changing my life. Jesus, I give you the praise,’ said a mother named Hauwa.
“’The prayer and the support given to us today mark the beginning of the healing in my body and my soul. The Lord will bless the ministry of Open Doors,’” said Usman.
Please continue praying that the daughters will make it safely home. Pray for God’s grace to both daughters and parents on a daily basis, and please pray for safety and healing for the Chibok community. Thank the Lord for His journey mercies to the Open Doors team travelling to Chibok.