Human trafficking, forced prostitution, kidnapping, murder, blasphemy. If you have not heard, there is a radical Muslim terrorist group in Nigeria that is in the business of doing these things. They have kidnapped nearly 300 young Nigerian women who were attending school, with the intent of selling them into forced marriages and sex trafficking. These girls are ages 15 to 18, the same age as one of my sisters, old enough to turn childhood dreams into adult realities.
From what I’ve read, the reason for their kidnapping was that they refused to leave school after threats from the terrorist group demanded the school close down. This terrorist group, called Boko Haram, is against the education of girls and young women. Their name translated literally means “Western education is a sin”. You can watch a video here that gives you a sense of who they are.
John Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary, said that they think the girls have been separated into smaller groups. Also, the former UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown was quoted by CNN saying, “It’s vital to use the information to find the girls before they are dispersed across Africa, which is a very real possibility”. These girls need to be found, now. They are not just a few hundred Nigerian school girls, they are many beloved daughters, inspiring sisters, lovable friends, and encouraging peers. If they are not found, not only will it obliterate the spirits of countless families, it may also inspire a paralyzing fear in the minds of numerous other students and teachers which could keep them from attending school out of fear that they too will be targeted.
I love my education. It has filled me with a desire to one day be a part of a community where part of my pastoral ministry can extend to educating young women and men. School has changed my life, and I feel that all others should have that same miracle. This dream increases the intensity of the flames in my chest that are ignited by the actions of Boko Haram.
Here is a video of one of my heroes, Malala Yousafzai, speaking about this.
Malala inspires me deeply, in many ways. One of them being the way she says, “Everyone has to die someday, so if we die a bit early it does not matter”. To unpack this from a Christian perspective; I’ve been promised that the life I’m given will be eternal, therefore death ought not be feared when considering standing for the rights and dignity of another human being.
My life is not being threatened by Boko Haram. It would be pretty easy to ignore the tragedy these young women have been plunged into. It would even be pretty easy to like a bunch of Facebook statues, write a blog, or a make a passionate post about the situation these girls are in using the popular hashtag #bringbackourgirls. By no means do I believe these things are wrong, they are needed to spread the message of this atrocity, but alone they feel insufficient. I have not found any campaign raising money in an effort to save these girls. That doesn’t seem to be the needed resource right now. What the needed resource seems to be is action by the Nigerian government and support from other national governments.So I feel the best I currently have to offer is my voice in prayer and in asking the U.S. government to continue supporting the Nigerian government in the search. For my Washington friends, here is where you can find the addresses to write our senators. Also, here is a petition you can sign asking the U.S. and international governments to continue contributing their resources to finding these girls. And for all friends, Washingtonian or not, pray that the same power that brought the Messiah back from death would be at work to bring these girls back to their families.
The nearly 300 girls that have been kidnapped are not just Nigerian, they are human, so this is not just an issue for Nigeria to confront, it’s an issue for humanity to confront. Let’s go humans, use your voice.