About 120 Chibok girls have been rescued or released, but the rest are still
missing. Several got away the first night as they were taken into the bush, and about 100-120 were released to the
Nigerian government in two separate releases. Two have been picked up wandering in the bush country. Monica Enoch, our
congregation's girl has been reported killed in captivity. Our congregation prays faithfully for the girls - won't
you join us?
The whole world seemed to be saying, texting, and blogging with the phrase
,"Bring Back Our Girls!!" But we Brethren soon discovered that these Nigerian girls had a
particular link to us.
Our Nigerian Mission workers had established a school in the area of Northeastern
Nigeria known as Chibok many years ago. There were no government schools in the area at that time as much of Nigeria was then
still undeveloped. So the Brethren operated the school until the late 1970's when the government expanded local education. But
the school and the church maintained close ties - the Chibok School was still considered "ours."
The Church of the Brethren in Nigeria, called Ekklesiyar Yan'uwa a Nigeria
(EYN) in the Hausa language (literally "Church of the Children of the Same Mother in Nigeria",
reflecting the widespread polygamy in the region), became the dominant Christian church in the area and that
was reflected in the school's enrollment. So when Boko Haram terrorists kidnapped over 275 young girls from the school,
the majority were from EYN families.
Almost immediately, the church in the United States
began to be told that these were, indeed, OUR GIRLS! EYN leaders asked everyone to not use the girls names in any public forum
so as to protect them and their families. We agreed. Each American congregation of Brethren was given the first name and an
assigned "family name" (not the real last name) of one of the girls to personalize our prayers. But we agreed
not to publicize even this name. So every Sunday, our girl's name is shared during our corporate prayers in worship, we
pray for the rest of the girls as well. And then we pray for their captors asking God to somehow turn their hearts and their
faith to the right so that they might change their ways. UPDATE: latest reports tell us that our girl
known as Monica Enoch has been killed while in captivity. Also the names no longer need to be kept secret. As
People of God's Peace, we are called to pray for our enemies and bless those who persecute us, and though this is hard
... we are practicing that in this situation. Our brothers and sisters in the Nigerian Brethren are also witnessing
to their neighbors, Christian and Muslim about the love and forgiveness of Jesus Christ through their practice of forgiving
and praying for their tormentors in this tragedy. We also encourage one another to remember "our girl" in our personal,
Our brothers and sisters in EYN have pledged to pursue peaceful work in the area
rather than support the vigilante violence practiced by far too many on both the Muslim and Christian sides of Nigeria's
religious conflicts in recent years. They point out that a significant minority of the girls kidnapped from Chibok School,
and many of the villagers killed by Boko Haram have also been moderate Muslims who have lived in peace, side by side
with their Christian neighbors, for decades. While delivering humanitarian aid in the region, the Brethren have been clear
in their intentions to help all those displaced and injured whether Brethren, or other Christian denomination, or Muslim.
Jesus preaches peace and justice through these people, not hatred and violence.
If you would
like to join us in our prayers, give me a call at the Church office (540) 439-3016. But I ask that you pray for all of
the victims of such terrorism in Nigeria and around the world, and those who have hurt them, too. May God grant us His peace.