On 14-15 April 2014, Nigerian terrorists kidnapped more than 250 young women from their boarding school in Chibok. Since then, more girls have been taken, men have been murdered and families are traumatised. More than 180 young women remain missing. Today marks 150 days of their captivity – 150 days without love from their families; 150 days without the freedom of choice.
The Chibok girls. It’s easy to see them as one monolithic group – faceless and nameless. But each woman has her own hopes, dreams and purpose. Each woman has a name – Hauwa, Esther, Yana, Naomi… You can read all their names here.
Many people would love us to forget them – to label them a lost cause.
It’s now 150 days on. Have we forgotten them?
In many ways, it’s unavoidable. Every day the news brings devastating tragedies to our attention – Gaza, Iraq, Syria… Did you even remember that today is the 13th anniversary since 9/11?
A few weeks after their kidnappings, #bringbackourgirls exploded on social media, fuelled by celebrity endorsements. Michelle Obama’s tweet on 7 May generated 58,000 retweets. Many argued that using the hashtag was just ‘slacktivism’ – a feel-good action that doesn’t cause any lasting change, apart from making the poster feel better. On the other hand, the collective pressure from millions across the world on social media put the abduction of these young women on the international agenda; countries like the US and UK pledged intelligence support and the UN placed sanctions against Boko Haram. But others argue that this attention was actually what Boko Haram wanted – a PR coup. Who had actually heard of them before 14 April 2014? There is no doubt that the situation in Nigeria is extremely complex, with the country divided between the predominantly Muslim north and Christian south. Perhaps Islamic radical terrorists Boko Haram have engineered the situation to make the Christian president look very weak in the global arena in the run up to the 2015 election?
Despite all the arguments, debates and discourses, one startling fact remains: 150 days on, more than 180 young women remain missing.
My question for us today is: what can we *do* about it?
You see, many of these young women are my sisters. I’m part of Girls’ Brigade, an international mission movement, and some of these young women are GB members.
I care. I hope for them. I hope for their return. I hope for their moment of freedom. I hope with all my heart that their tomorrow is different from their today. I believe in hope for these young women.
Hope. What a beautiful word; a biblical word. But what does it mean? I asked some of my friends: “Hope is dancing to the beat of you heart when passion overcomes fear!” and “Hope is living in the light of Christ and knowing that this world’s darkness can never extinguish it.”
For me, hope is not wishy washy optimism. In scripture, hope is an indication of certainty. It means a confident expectation. Rather than being static or passive, it is dynamic, active and life sustaining. There is only one true source of hope; God. Psalm 62:5 reminds us: “For my hope is from Him.”
I want to be a gospel hope-giver in this situation. I believe that you and I are called to be.
That’s why I’m part of a GB #hopeforgirls Thunderclap today which will direct people to send messages of hope to the Chibok girls’ families, which you can read about here. More than 240 have signed up, with a reach of around 115,000 people. Just imagine the power of 115,000 messages of hope.
That’s why GB International has created a prayer resource to help us pray for the situation and engage young people in justice issues. Our vision is to create a tidal wave of prayer across the world; we’d love if you would join us too.
Today, I’m refusing to forget that my sisters don’t have their freedom. I’m refusing to give up hope that this situation can’t change. But I don’t have all the answers and solutions. Perhaps, collectively, we do?