The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) is demanding that the government of Nigeria do everything that it can to locate hundreds of missing teenage girls who were kidnapped in the northern state of Borno from their school on April 15 by Boko Haram militants. Evangelist Matthew Owowjaiye, who is an associate with CAN, is also calling people to fast and pray. “The military may not be able to solve the problem,” he says, “but prayer will.”
CAN has called the government to act on behalf of the girls, and reinforced their demands by providing a list of 180 names of girls said to be amongst the kidnapped. The group identified 165 as Christians and the remaining 15 as Muslim, explaining that the government should have been better prepared to defend the government-run girls’ school.
The school, located in Chibok, one of only a few Christian enclaves located in the majority-Muslim state, was doing a number of things Boko Haram opposes. The terrorist organization’s name means “Western education is a sin” in the Hausa language, and they work to destroy anything opposed to their desire to eradicate everything they view as Western, including those of the Christian faith.
The list of 180 names is a clear indication that many of those attending the school were believers, living and attending school in one of the most dangerous areas in the country.
Security forces defending the school were no match when Boko Haram attacked. The militant group reportedly took at least 276 girls between the ages of 16 and 18, forcing them into the back of trucks. The convoy was later seen headed towards the Cameroon border.
It is not clear how many girls are still being held. While CAN provided 180 names, school and government officials provided 276. Some reports indicated there could be even more missing girls that were unaccounted for. Reports indicate that school records may have been incomplete and some parents have withheld information for fear of reprisal. Some students are said to have escaped during the chaos and there are conflicting accounts of releases. The lives of those still being held are in peril.
Most terrifying is the recent video in which a man claiming to be Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau, stated that the girls would be sold as brides for the equivalent of $12 each. Recorded in the Hausa language, the man seems to laugh menacingly as he claims he will sell the teenagers and that Allah directed him to do so.
While people in the media and around the world are working to create international attention, such as the social media campaign on Twitter to #BringBackOurGirls as well as a number of protests, Boko Haram has no intention of negotiating. But the demand must be for more than just government intervention.
Christians in Nigeria have called everyone to a specific course of action, asking that we fast and pray specifically that the kidnapped girls are released. In Ephesians 6:12-13, we read “we do not wrestle against flesh and blood” and learn that we must put on “the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day.”
Although we want government intervention, God’s intervention is what is needed most. Will you join those at The Voice of the Martyrs and commit to praying for these girls? Pray for God’s intervention and for the rescue of these captives.
Sources: The Sun, Reuters
“Ann Kay” is a writer for VOM. She learned about VOM five years ago when she read Tortured for Christ and began receiving the newsletter. She is passionate about reaching the world for Christ and sharing stories of the persecuted church.