How the Chibok girls have given hope to persecuted Christians everywhere
On May 6, 2014, Abubakar Shekau released a video taking responsibility for the attack in Chibok where he abducted 276 school girls at about 11 pm on the 14 of April 2014. In the video Shekau sneered and declared, ”I will sell them in the market… I have a market to sell them. God instructed me to sell women, Yes, I will sell the girls.”
The video was followed by another in May 2014 showing all the girls reciting Quranic verses. One of the girls was called forward to renounced her Christian faith on the video. Shekau then declared that most of the “girls have converted to Islam though there were a few that had not yet converted” and he was going to decide what to do with them.
Some parents that spoke to Global Christian News expressed the anxious speculation that have tormented them. They wondered and asked themselves if the girls would convert to Islam in the face of all sorts of possible abuses – sexual slavery, rape, and possible physical and mental torture. Would they rather face death than recant Jesus?
The dances and celebrations by the 21 released Chibok girls and their families at their first Church service, last Sunday in Abuja, in over 2 years said a lot in answer to some of these questions. Access for interviews with the girls was restricted but certain inferences can be drawn from what Gloria Dame, one of the released girls said during the emotionally-filled thanksgiving Church service. “We stayed for one month and 10 days without food. I narrowly escaped bomb blast in the forest. I never knew there would be a day like this that I will give thanks to God among other people.”
In Gloria’s speech, we see what we know was the hopelessness of their situation, but we hear a heart that had surrendered and depended on God. A heart that expressed her wish for their captors, “We are praying to God to touch the heart of Boko Haram to repent.”
Considering the horrific life they were subjected to, this is a remarkable demonstration of faith for a young and traumatised girl. While most Nigerians are looking forward to the destruction of Boko Haram, she is praying for their salvation.
The Chibok community leader said that there are still about 100 of the Chibok girls who do not want to come back to their parents. This is possibly due to radicalisation but also a fact that they know the stigma that would follow them for perhaps the rest of their lives. Many Nigerians think they are radicalised and therefore dangerous while many families and friends would not want to relate to girls who have reported to become ‘Boko Haram wives’. Ostracisation will most certainly be the fate of many.
But that did not seem to be the concern for these girls who have shown great faith in Christ and determination. When the girls met President Buhari on Wednesday this week, their exuberant song in Hausa language said, “what will I give to God, what do I have but gratitude, just to say thank you, What do I say to God but thank you!”
This brave act is a testimony for many Nigerian Christians who are undergoing various forms of persecution in northern Nigeria.
The story of the Chibok girls goes beyond the demonstration of human resilience or even the mere hope for freedom. The testimony of the Chibok girls is a powerful demonstration of faith in God – mocked by atheists and Islamists. It is the power that comes from a faith that declares that indeed there is a God, there is a Saviour Jesus Christ and there is the Holy Spirit at work.