Friends, I have encouraging news to share!
There is reason to believe that Leah Sharibu, the 15-year-old Christian Nigerian girl kidnapped by the Boko Haram in February, is still alive. [See previous blog on Leah’s captivity.]
The news came last week, as a recorded message of Leah’s was delivered to Nigerian media. It is the first story of confirmation of Leah’s survival.
While the government must authenticate the recording, her father has confirmed it is Leah, saying the family is “encouraged by hearing her voice.”
I don’t know if “encouraged” is the best translation for what they must be feeling. Imagine hearing your lost daughter’s voice for the first time in seven months. The joy and renewed hope that must have filled them, but at the same time a feeling of urgency to bring her home safely.
For seven months, Leah’s parents have gone to bed not knowing if the next day will bring news of the fate of their daughter. And each morning, they wake with the same pit in their stomach, wondering if the report that reaches them will be an answer to the prayers of so many, or the dreaded news of the end of their fight …Will they get a call in the middle of the night? A knock on the door? A tap on their shoulder at the market?
The wait must be excruciating. Her voice, a God send.
The recording was accompanied by an image of Leah, dressed in a Muslim hijab, her face downcast. In the recording, young Leah makes a plea to the Nigerian government to treat her “with compassion” and get her “out of this situation.”
Her situation is precarious. And the longer she remains in the grip of the Boko Haram, the worse it becomes. We praise God for keeping her alive, but we know she must be enduring an intense spiritual battle.
Friends, unfortunately, this is an all too familiar story in that region and others. “Normal” Christian persecution in Nigeria involves child kidnapping, rape, forced conversion, and marriage. Reportedly, the Boko Haram has abducted at least 2,000 children since 2009, including 276 girls taken from a school in Chibok in April 2014. Of those, more than 100 are still missing.
In my book, Heirloom Love, I highlight this issue with another girl’s heartbreaking story. She and Leah are two of thousands of young women who have been kidnapped and living against their will.
Our prayers to support Leah are working, but her time in captivity is clearly taking its toll. Please continue to pray for Leah’s safety, perseverance, and ultimate release. I would also lift her family up in prayer, as they need to lean on God’s strength to get them through this horrendous ordeal.
Grace and peace,