Bring Back Our Girls:
Praying and Advocating for Peace in Nigeria
May 5, 2014
As many of you know, three weeks ago, over 200 girls (many of them EYN Brethren) were kidnapped from their school in Chibok, Nigeria, by Boko Haram, an Islamic sect in northern Nigeria violently seeking a 'pure' Islamic state.
It has been reported that around 40 girls escaped a few days after their kidnapping but subsequent news stories about the remaining girls' conditions or whereabouts have been incomplete at best. But it has been speculated that these girls were targeted and kidnapped so that they could become 'slave brides' of some of Boko Haram's members, and on Monday May 5th, a video was released of purported Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau saying "God instructed me to sell them, they are his properties and I will carry out his instructions".
This is deplorable and absolutely unacceptable. Nigerian Brethren have been living under the threat of violence for many years, and this mass kidnapping by Boko Haram is just the latest example of the true fear our Nigerian brothers and sisters have to live with every day.
It is high time that our sisters be brought home from captivity and that all of our Nigerian brothers and sisters experience some measure of peace in their land. Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan and the Nigerian authorities have done very little for the kidnapped girls' release so far, and have not heeded the calls for help from the girls' families, and many Nigerians have taken to the streets to protest this lack of action.
We must join in solidarity with them. We must pray and we must act.
Last week a bipartisan group of Senators introduced Senate Resolution 433 condemning the kidnapping and calling upon the US and Nigeria to work together to promote women's rights, security of schools, assistance in rescuing and reintegrating the girls, among other things. At this time asking your Senator to support this resolution is a critical action that can make a difference in Nigeria. The more that your Senators hear from you, the more officials from the US State Department and from the Obama administration will hear from them, and this will help our American leaders see Nigeria and the kidnapped girls as a priority.
We must lift up our voices and remember that each of us are members of one body, brought together by Christ (Ephesians 2: 16-18). We are connected to one another by this Jesus we follow, and it is Jesus who proclaims freedom to the prisoners and release of the oppressed (Luke 4: 18-19). These kidnapped Nigerian girls are our sisters and we must stand in solidarity with them and with our Lord.
"The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor." —Luke 4:18-19
CALL TO PRAYER AND FASTING: The leaders of EYN have asked us to enter into a season of prayer and fasting for the wellbeing of the girls and the Nigerian people. We must stand in solidarity with our Nigerian brothers and sisters and remember that our God is a God of the oppressed and powerless. When all hope is lost, our God can find a way out of the wilderness.
TALK WITH YOUR PASTOR AND CONGREGATION: Bring up this issue with your pastor and share this action alert with your congregation. The more people who respond to the alert, the better chance our collective voice is heard by our leaders. Also, later this week a letter will be mailed to each congregation with the name of one of the schoolgirls who was abducted, in order to invite each congregation to engage in focused prayer. Attached to the letter will be a list of names of the girls whom we know about at this time, received from EYN's liaison officer.
ADVOCACY ACTION: Click here to find and contact your Senators
E-mail or call your Senators today and tell them to co-sponsor Senate Resolution 433 and to ask Secretary of State Kerry to put pressure on Nigeria to:
- Peacefully work for the release of all of the kidnapped girls, give heed to the calls of their families for help, and work with neighboring countries to bring the girls back home,
- Put in place measures to protect schools and students from becoming victims of violence and human trafficking
- Begin "just policing" practices that would help address some of the security concerns of both Christian and Muslim communities
- Support efforts of moderate Muslim leaders and concerned Christians to work together toward peace and renew good relations between neighbors of different backgrounds.
*NOTE: This past week, we spoke with and heard from State Department officials about the work in Nigeria that the Bureau of Conflict Stabilization Operations is doing, but we must encourage all parts of the US government to support our sisters and brothers in Nigeria.
This tragedy will not be solved overnight, and the work of building peace in Nigeria will be long, but we must have hope in the fact that we have a persistent and faithful Lord who will not abandon us. We must continue to do what we can here at home while praying for our Nigerian sisters and brothers abroad. We must take heart in the fact that the Prince of Peace is with us always, to the end of the age.
In Christ's peace,
Nathan Hosler, Coordinator
Bryan Hanger, Advocacy Assistant
Church of the Brethren Office of Public Witness
***NOTE: This action is just one part of the Church of the Brethren’s ongoing response to the situation in Nigeria. Be on the lookout for future news releases or opportunities to support our brothers and sisters in Nigeria. To give to the EYN Compassion Fund that aids pastors families and others who have lost loved ones or suffered from the violence in Nigeria, go to www.brethren.org/EYNcompassion
Because of widespread interest in this issue, we are sending this message to an expanded list, including pastors. Click here if you would like to receive Action Alerts on a regular basis or here to choose which e-mail newsletters to receive.
For more information about the public witness ministries of the Church of the Brethren, contact Nathan Hosler, Coordinator, Office of Public Witness:
337 North Carolina Ave SE
Washington, DC 20003