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News / Thoughts

Nigeria: Leah Sharibu turns 20 but remains in captivity

May 15, 2023

Shortly after being kidnapped by Islamic militants from their school in February 2018, more than 100 girls were gathered by their captors and asked, “Who is a Christian?”

One girl courageously put up her hand. Her name is Leah Sharibu.

“We rebuked her and said that we are all Muslims,” reported the girls afterwards. “But she refused. She raised her hand and said she is a Christian. They [the militant group Islamic State West African Province, or ISWAP] said, since she is a Christian, she must denounce Christ and accept Islam before she could enter the van. She refused and said she is a Christian and she would not accept Islam.”

It was an extraordinarily brave thing to do, because whilst all other girls were released a month after being taken, Leah remained held – as she has ever since.

Unwavering faith, steadfast hope

Rebecca is Leah’s mum, and she is so proud of her daughter: “I am thankful to Leah for the decision she took,” she continues. “She refused to become a Muslim. Her strong faith makes me feel very happy.”

It’s a joy that sits alongside grief and agonising uncertainty. “Honestly, we are not happy,” admits Rebecca. “We are just managing our lives here.” But they don’t live in despair, helped by their unwavering faith. “God has been our source of strength in everything we are doing. Looking at my walk with God, I can say this is the time I became closer to Him.”

Such faith not only gives Rebecca and her husband strength for each day but hope for tomorrow. “We are praying for Leah; nothing is too big for God to do. I know one day she will come back,” she says.

Keep praying for Leah

Leah’s mother also has a message for her global family who continue to uphold her family in prayer. “I want to say a big thank you to Open Doors who have been praying with us, may God bless you all. Our thanksgiving is the only thing I can give. I lack how best to say thank you,” she says. “My request morning and night is that you keep praying for Leah, as you have been doing in the past. I know that one day God will answer and rescue my daughter.”

Thank you also to the hundreds of you who have written a message of encouragement to Rebecca and Nathan. These have now been sent to the couple and they will be a tremendous source of encouragement to them.

Pray now…

  • That Leah will soon be released and safely reunited with her family
  • That God’s near presence will strengthen, heal and empower Leah
  • That Rebecca and Nathan will continue to ‘overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit’ (Romans 15:13).

Do something now…

1. Order our new 2023 World Watch List interactive prayer map…

2. You can write to courageous Christians at the trauma care centre run by Open Doors partners – both recipients of trauma care and the counsellors giving it.

3. Take on the Risk Factor quiz and share your score with your friends…

4. Choose to Lose and raise money and prayer for those losing out because of their faith in Jesus…

We support people who are beaten, tortured,
imprisoned, falsely accused, and hated simply for following Jesus.