Leah is a Christian from Nigeria. She’s now 16, but she hasn’t been seen by her family for around 18 months. She was kidnapped in March 2018 along with over 100 other girls from her school by Islamic extremists opposed to western education and Christianity.
After a month, all the girls that were still alive (5-6 had been killed either in captivity, in the initial raid, or whilst trying to escape) were released – all except one, Leah. As she was due to be released, her Christian faith was discovered. Her captors said she could go free if she converted to Islam. She chose not to. She was not allowed to leave. She’s still in captivity.
Leah chose Jesus over her freedom.
She gave this message to some of her friends to give to her mum:
“My mother you should not be disturbed… My God, whom we have been praying to with you, is showing Himself mighty in my trying moment… I am confident that one day I shall see your face again. If not here, then there with our Lord Jesus Christ.”
What an incredible choice. Leah could have said she wasn’t a Christian, but she didn’t. Choosing to stay with Jesus was more important than her freedom.
1. What would you decide if you had to make the same choice as Leah?
2. What are some of the most important things in your life? Would you give them up for Jesus if he asked?
Think about this. Leah made a choice that has potentially cost her everything. EHer choice raises some immense questions. What did Leah know about Jesus that meant she would be prepared to give up her freedom for him? What was so important or precious that she couldn’t just deny her faith?
Tradition says that all of Jesus’ disciples were killed for their faith (except Judas). They spent three years with Jesus, then spent the rest of their lives talking about Him. They were completely transformed by Him. If Jesus was a phony, if God wasn’t real, and hadn’t revealed himself through Jesus, then why would a random bunch of guys give their lives for Him? Why, when being tortured and with the threat of death hanging over them, would they not give up their faith? Like Leah, they knew something about Jesus that they were prepared to give everything for. Leah knows what Paul, one of the writers of the New Testament, wrote two thousand years ago ‘to live is Christ, and to die is gain’ (Philippians 1:21).
1. Do you know Jesus in the same way as Leah and the early disciples?
2. Have you had experiences of God that mean you’ll always stick with him?
3. What does it mean that ‘to live is Christ’? What does that look like for you?
Leah’s story is hard. She’s not been released, and we don’t know how she’s being treated. She’s a real person, not just a challenging story. We write about Leah to inspire and challenge you, but also to ask you to pray for her. Spend 60 seconds now just saying Leah’s name, you can whisper or shout. Use her name as a prayer for her. Cheer her on. Picture her hearing you and thousands of others calling out her name. Ask God to give her boldness, courage, protection, and of course, her freedom.
Leah was taken specifically because she was a girl. She went to a girl’s school in Northern Nigeria, and Islamic extremists in the area believe girls should not undergo an education. But she is still in captivity because she’s a Christian. Leah’s story highlights that Christian women and girls are vulnerable to persecution because of both their faith and their gender. Check out our new campaign to see how you can speak up, pray and raise money for change!
We support people who are beaten, tortured,
imprisoned, falsely accused, and hated simply for following Jesus.