Our Church & the Kidnapped Girls of Chibok, Nigeria
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?
UPDATE: Recently we received the news that 36 girls were baptized by our Nigerian Church, Ekklesiyar Yan'uwa a Nigeria. Also several girls who had been given to or forced to marry Boko Haram fighters had their children dedicated to God at that same service. The girls are still in protective custody of the Nigerian government, but have been able to communicate with family members and are slowly being reintroduced to society. Continue to pray for them, we ask.
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, daily prayers.
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.