Six months ago – on 14 April – Boko Haram militants stormed a Secondary School in Chibok, Borno State, Nigeria and kidnapped more than 250 girls.
Around the world there was outrage and condemnation. People took to social media, filling their timelines with the hashtag #bringbackourgirls. Politicians and world leaders declared that ‘something must be done’.
And six months later the girls are still missing.
Of the 275 students present during the attack, Open Doors sources say 23 avoided being taken, 16 jumped off trucks as they were taken to the camps and four managed to escape after arrival.
But those girls who did escape are haunted by the experience. Open Doors field workers described one of these escapees as anxious and extremely nervous.
“We don’t know what exactly happened to this young woman,” he reports, “but we have heard plenty of other hair-raising testimonies to be able to connect the dots. It is not clear how she ended up as a Boko Haram ‘wife’, but she has been through a terrible ordeal. She probably faced daily, repeated rape and other forms of violence.”
At some point, this girl managed to get free and return to her family. Though the family is back together, their lives have fallen apart. They are now in hiding, living in a small shack and hoping – praying – the militants never find them.
Those who do manage to escape need physical, emotional and spiritual healing. One woman who has survived a Boko Haram kidnapping told Open Doors researcher, Isaac, “Out of fear I have converted to Islam. Will Christ accept me back?”
For years now the Open Doors team in Nigeria has talked about the kidnapping of young women in northeastern Nigeria (and in many other places around the world) as part of forceful Islamisation. The stories seemed almost unbelievable, but they are true, and it took the events in Chibok for the world at large to wake up to the reality.
And the really shocking thing is this: the Chibok girls are not the only victims.
“There are many girls who have been kidnapped apart from the girls from the Chibok school,” said Dr Davis, the Australian cleric who was trying to negotiate the release of the Chibok girls over the summer. “The escaped girls tell harrowing stories of rape and abuse. They are traumatised and require medical treatment and counselling. These girls are testament to the horrifying truth about the kidnappings.”
We know that Open Doors supporters have not forgotten these girls, and that you are lifting them, and their struggling country, up in prayer. Please continue to pray for the girls taken at Chibok, and for their parents. And pray, too, for the Christian communities of north east Nigeria, who have faced violence and persecution on an unprecedented level.
The world, we are told, has ‘moved on’ from the outrage and the hashtags. Well, we haven’t. Our staff are still on the ground, still making the perilous journey to the traumatised communities, still reminding them that they are not alone.
Will you stand with the Chibok girls and their families?
Use this prayer chain resource to pray for the Chibok girls...
Write to the families of the abducted girls, and let them know that we pray for the safety and freedom of their daughters…
You can give to our appeal to support the church in Nigeria here…
We support people who are beaten, tortured,
imprisoned, falsely accused, and hated simply for following Jesus.