On April 15, the terrorist group Boko Haram – whose name can be roughly translated “Western Education is a Sin” – kidnapped over 300 teenage girls from a boarding school in Northern Nigeria under threat of violence. In a video released by the organization, the leader Abubakar Shekau brazenly claims responsibility for the kidnappings and tells the world of his plans to sell the girls as “wives” on the open market. The Nigerian government believes that 276 girls are still missing.
Nicholas Kristof wrote about the girls in Sunday’s New York Times, which was the first I had heard of the story. When you hear of a story this horrifying and cruel and backwards and otherworldly, we get angry. We get sad. We get sick to our stomachs. We desperately want to do something. But oftentimes, we are left feeling hopeless, because there just isn’t much that we can do about it.
I’m just a regular mom with a couple of kids living my life halfway across the world from Nigeria. I don’t have any money. I don’t have any sway in the political world or in the media. I don’t even have my own blog (I had to borrow Jamie’s to write this post). I am essentially powerless to bring those girls home. And it this feeling of powerlessness and hopelessness and despair that people like Shekau and Boko Haram use to prey on the poor and vulnerable all over the world. They want the world to think that the girls are a lost cause, and that we should all just move on. If we give up, they win.
God clearly commands his people in Micah 6:8 (ESV):
“He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you, but to do justice, and love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”
God wants us to fight this kind of injustice. But, the thing is, regular people like you and me essentially ARE powerless in the face of this kind of evil. We can’t go get those girls ourselves. We have to appeal to those who DO have power to act on our behalf. So, I want to give you two things that every single person reading this post can do about these girls.
1. PRAY – Appeal to God
In order to fight great injustice, we must appeal to the God of Justice who has the power to bring his girls home. I know what you might be thinking. “I thought this post was going to be about what I can DO. And you are just telling me to pray?” Yes, I am. If you are God’s child, you must see prayer as the most important task in the work of justice, because justice is ultimately God’s work.
In Luke 18:1-8, Jesus gives us a parable of a widow who wants justice from her enemy.
And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart. He said, “In a certain city there was a judge who neither feared God nor respected man. And there was a widow in that city who kept coming to him and saying, ‘Give me justice against my adversary.’ For a while he refused, but afterward he said to himself, ‘Though I neither fear God nor respect man, yet because this widow keeps bothering me, I will give her justice, so that she will not beat me down by her continual coming.’” And the Lord said, “Hear what the unrighteous judge says. And will not God give justice to his elect, who cry to him day and night? Will he delay long over them? I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily.
Let’s not lose heart in praying, as Jesus encouraged. Pray alone. Pray in your small group or bible study. Pray with your family before meals. Pray with your children before bedtime. Devote yourself to prayer for the following, and just wait for God to move.
- Pray that the international community would continue to put pressure on the Nigerian government, and that the President, Goodluck Jonathan, would accept any and all resources offered by other countries in the search.
- Pray that the market for buying the girls as wives would miraculously dry up and that there would be no economic incentive for Boko Haram to keep the girls.
- Pray for every single girl to be brought safely home to her family and to receive adequate care and counseling from this traumatic event.
2. Advocate – Appeal to those in power
To be an advocate means to give a voice to someone, in this case, to 276 girls that have no ability to speak for themselves. We have to let our leaders and the international community know how we feel about this. We have to let them know that it is important to us, their constituents, that they take whatever action is possible to bring them home. Today it is easier than it has ever been to communicate with our leaders, and we need to use that platform to give a voice to those who have none.
- Like the Facebook page.
- Go sign this White House petition.
- Organize a peaceful march or a demonstration.
- Tweet at or email President Obama, your senators, and your congresspeople and praise them for the team that they have already sent to Nigeria to help and insist that they continue to take every available action to bring the girls home.
- Change your social media profile pictures and blow up your feeds about this story (the “official” social media march day is TODAY). Link to some of the articles I have included in this post. Use the hashtag #bringbackourgirls.
- Write about this on your blog. Share this blog post with your friends.
What gifts, connections, skills, or passions do you have that you can bring to this story? Find your voice and get in the game. The girls need you.