The year 2018 was filled with both great successes and sadness for many around the world, with some tragic things happening nearly everywhere: violent attacks, diseases, floods and fires, war, famine, bus smashes, joblessness, and other calamities too many to mention. With all going on around us, both good and bad, let’s still stop a moment today to reflect on our many blessings. And in this CHRISTmas season that brings so many families together, let’s pause once again to remember Leah Sharibu and all innocent captives across Africa and the world, held as hostages, prisoners, or slaves, far from their loved ones during this special time of year.
As you know, several months ago I wrote about Leah Sharibu, the 15-year old Nigerian school girl, who has now been held hostage by Boko Haram militants for 10 months after being kidnapped, along with more than 100 teenage girls who attended a science and technology girls boarding high school in Dapchi, Yobe State in northeastern Nigeria. (“Boko Haram” roughly means “Western education is forbidden.”)
Leah was the only schoolgirl not released in March, because she refused to renounce her Christian faith.
__Every day I pray for her safe return, and salute her amazing faith and courage.
Now as some of you mentioned when I wrote earlier this year, Leah is not the only hostage still held in Nigeria today. In 2014, about 226 schoolgirls were abducted from Chibok high school (about four hours from Dapchi). Some escaped and most were released following negotiations, but I understand that up to 100 are still thought to remain in captivity? UNICEF aid worker Alice Ngaddah is still in captivity as well.
These violent kidnappings are happening globally, not just in Africa. Reports are that people are being taken hostage (both women and men, of all ages) and held across the world, for different reasons by different groups, including human trafficking purely for profit… It’s a tragic state of affairs!
“What then shall we do?” asked the crowds (Luke 3:10).
The first thing everyone amongst you can do, regardless of your faith tradition, is to show love…
So let’s do this: For the next seven days here on this platform, go ahead and post your special messages to Leah, her parents Rebecca and Nathan Sharibu, and the rest of her family, as well as messages to Alice Ngaddah’s family and any other captives anywhere around the world you may want to share messages with. There are so many, yet so few names that we know. Let us not forget anyone in our thoughts and prayers.
When I move onto the next post, my team will compile all your comments together and send them to the families, and to UNICEF. (Please remember! No political statements on this platform… There are other places for that type of discussion and won’t be allowed here).
Let me start by sharing my own message:
Dear Leah: As if you were our own family and our own child — we continue to remember you, love you, and salute your courage. We continue to pray for your family, and for your safe return. Always remember:
“And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”
(1 Corinthians 13:13)