There is a house in Gulak, Nigeria, near the border between Adamawa and Borno states. It is a big house with red roof tiles. In the front yard there is a neem tree. Round the back there is a well. Surrounding the whole house is a high barbed wire fence. The house is used by Boko Haram militants. Inside it are at least 20 women and a handful of girls abducted by the terrorist group them from towns they have attacked in their campaign to establish a caliphate in northeastern Nigeria.
Here are the stories of two women who managed to escape this house…
Mercy is a 24 year old Christian and single mother who grew up in Gulak. When Boko Haram invaded the town last September, Mercy took her baby and ran for the mountains to hide with a group of other people. They lived there for two months, but Mercy occasionally sneaked back into town to look for food.
Early one morning she left her child with another woman and went down from the mountain, creeping back into her house. She grabbed a few things from her kitchen and then headed back to the foothills.
As the sun began to rise, she was spotted.
“Two Boko Haram men grabbed me. Then two others came,” Mercy said. “They trekked with me to their leader. Then they took me to the house.”
Inside the house Mercy saw the other women and girls. Some looked terrified, others dejected – as though they had become resigned to their new lives in captivity. They wore hijabs, most having been forced to convert to Islam.
Mercy asked another woman how life was in the house. “[She] told me that they are being fed.” She advised Mercy to just “cool it” and obey Boko Haram until she saw a chance to escape.
She climbed over the barbed wire fence and ran back to the mountains under the moonlight to find her son.
Mercy learned that her captors often took captured men to the house to kill them in front of the women to intimidate them. Mercy decided to not wait, but run. Her baby boy was waiting for her in the mountains along the Nigeria-Cameroon border. She knew she would likely be killed trying to escape, but she had to try.
While everyone was kneeling for evening prayers she went to a restroom and jumped through a window above a toilet stall. She climbed over the barbed wire fence and ran back to the mountains under the moonlight to find her son. They made their way to Yola over several days, walking much of the way.
Dorcas, 20, was at home taking care of her siblings when Boko Haram rampaged through their town. She and her siblings hid. Most of them escaped and found their way to Yola, but Dorcas and one of her sisters were not so lucky. Boko Haram discovered them and took them to the house.
“The Boko Haram told us that they would break the leg of any of us who tried to escape,” she said
Though her sister managed to escape after one day, Dorcas stayed in the house for two weeks.
Many of the abducted girls were promised as wives to Boko Haram fighters. Dorcas feared every day that she would be forced to marry one of them. When she told one of the men that she would never marry him, he pulled out a gun and beat her hand as punishment. Dorcas was never sexually assaulted, saying she and the others were being preserved for marriage.
But before Dorcas was married off, she and six others escaped. Once outside they ran through farm fields and sought refuge in villages that the group later also attacked. She eventually reached Yola, where she miraculously found her siblings.
Although Nigerian government troops have recently managed to set free hundreds of those being held by Boko Haram, many are still being held against their will – including over 200 girls from Chibok. Please keep praying for all those being held. Ask for strength, endurance and the hope they will be freed and reunited with family.
As the civil war in the north of Nigeria unfolds, please also pray over the following areas:
Say ‘Yes’ and start a journey with your persecuted family. Commit to pray and speak up for people like Mercy and Dorcas. We’ll give you help to do just that – by sending you some awesome free resources (like our ‘Ten Steps’ guide) that will help you learn from your persecuted family.
We support people who are beaten, tortured,
imprisoned, falsely accused, and hated simply for following Jesus.