for Nigerian schoolgirls”
I have a hunch that you have heard about those schoolgirls in
Nigeria who were kidnapped by some bad men last month. Am I
correct? What have you heard?
(get from them and use what they say in what follows)
Yes, they were taken from a boarding school at night. When I was
in Nigeria, I saw girls that age at a school like the one they
went to. It wasn’t that far away from where I visited. These girls
are close to your age, just a few years older. Each one has a
mother, who is now very sad and angry. I’m sure these girls are
scared. There is something else I need to say. The majority of
these girls are part of the Church of the Brethren there, just
I want us to do something very important right now. It is probably
the biggest thing we can do for these girls, who are your and our
sisters. We need to pray for them. In fact, our church in Nigeria
is asking us to do this. On a bulletin insert
(hand it out to the children and
draw the congregation’s attention to it) is a list of
their names, in no particular order. In a minute I will ask you
children to lead us in a prayer for all these girls, some of whom
are Muslim. That prayer is on the other side of the insert. It’s
the 23rd Psalm made into a prayer for them.
This week I invite each of you
(children and congregation) to
pick one particular name off that list. In a
letter we received yesterday from our denomination, we have
been asked to pray for Salomi Pogu every day, by
name. Five other congregations will be praying specifically for
her along with us. Pray that she may be found and rescued, and that God will
protect and care for her until she is. In prayer, make her your
(to congregation) your
child. Don’t stop at the end of the week, keep her in your heart…
Now, children, would you start us out in this prayer for all these
girls, which we
will all read out loud in unison.
||Lord, you are the shepherd of
Take care of them.
Provide for their needs.
Help them to sleep in peace.
Give them good water to drink, not bad.
As they walk through danger,
lead them along the best paths.
Help them not to be afraid,
even when the way is dark
and bad men seek to hurt them.
May your shepherd’s staff
make them feel safe.
Even now, treat them to a
while their enemies watch.
Honor them as your guest,
wherever they are.
Fill their cup until it overflows.
goodness and mercy
be with them each and every day.
And remind them that
they will live forever
in your house, Lord. Amen
List of names
(on bulletin insert)
Deborah Abge, Awa Abge, Hauwa Yirma, Asabe Manu, Mwa Malam
Pogu, Patiant Dzakwa, Saraya Mal Stover, Mary Dauda, Gloria
Mainta, Hanatu Ishaku Gloria Dama, Tabitha Pogu, Maifa Dama,
Ruth Kollo, Esther Usman, Awa James, Anthonia Yahonna, Kume
Mutah, Aisha Ezekial, Nguba Buba, Kwanta Simon, Kummai Aboku,
Esther Markus, Hana Stephen, Rifkatu Amos, Rebecca Mallum,
Blessing Abana, Ladi Wadai, Tabitha Hyelampa, Ruth Ngladar,
Safiya Abdu, Na’omi Yahonna, Solomi Titus, Rhoda John, Rebecca
Kabu, Christy Yahi, Rebecca Luka, Laraba John, Saratu Markus,
Mary Usman, Debora Yahonna, Naomi Zakaria, Hanatu Musa, Hauwa
Tella, Juliana Yakubu, Suzana Yakubu, Saraya Paul, Jummai
Paul, Mary Sule, Jummai John, Yanke Shittima, Muli Waligam,
Fatima Tabji, Eli Joseph, Saratu Emmanuel, Deborah Peter,
Rahila Bitrus, Luggwa Sanda, Kauna Lalai, Lydia Emmar, Laraba
Maman, Hauwa Isuwa, Confort Habila, Hauwa Abdu, Hauwa Balti,
Yana Joshua, Laraba Paul, Saraya Amos, Glory Yaga, Na’omi
Bitrus, Godiya Bitrus, Awa Bitrus, Na’omi Luka, Maryamu Lawan,
Tabitha Silas, Mary Yahona, Ladi Joel, Rejoice Sanki, Luggwa
Samuel, Comfort Amos, Saraya Samuel, Sicker Abdul, Talata
Rejoice Musa, Deborah Abari,
Salomi Pogu, Mary Amor, Ruth
Joshua, Esther John, Esther Ayuba, Maryamu Yakubu, Zara
Ishaku, Maryamu Wavi, Lydia Habila, Laraba Yahonna, Na’omi
Bitrus, Rahila Yahanna, Ruth Lawan, Ladi Paul, Mary Paul,
Esther Joshua, Helen Musa, Margret Watsai, Deborah Jafaru, Filo
Dauda, Febi Haruna, Ruth Ishaku, Racheal Nkeki, Rifkatu
Soloman, Mairama Yahaya, Saratu Dauda, Jinkai Yama, Margret
Shettima, Yana Yidau, Grace Paul, Amina Ali, Palmata Musa,
Awagana Musa, Pindar Nuhu, Yana Pogu, Saraya Musa, Hauwa
Joseph, Hauwa Kwakwi, Hauwa Musa, Maryamu Musa, Maimuna Usman,
Rebeca Joseph, Liyatu Habitu, Rifkatu Yakubu, Naomi Philimon,
Deborah Abbas, Ladi Ibrahim, Asabe Ali, Maryamu Bulama, Ruth
Amos, Mary Ali, Abigail Bukar, Deborah Amos, Saraya Yanga,
Kauna Luka, Christiana Bitrus, Yana Bukar, Hauwa Peter, Hadiza
Yakubu, Lydia Simon, Ruth Bitrus, Mary Yakubu, Lugwa Mutah,
Muwa Daniel, Hanatu Nuhu, Monica Enoch, Margret Yama, Docas
Yakubu, Rhoda Peter, Rifkatu Galang, Saratu Ayuba, Naomi
Adamu, Hauwa Ishaya, Rahap Ibrahim, Deborah Soloman, Hauwa
Mutah, Hauwa Takai, Serah Samuel, Aishatu Musa, Aishatu Grema,
Hauwa Nkeki, Hamsatu Abubakar, Mairama Abubakar, Hauwa Wule,
Ihyi Abdu, Hasana Adamu, Rakiya Kwamtah, Halima Gamba, Aisha
Lawan, Kabu Malla, Yayi Abana, Falta Lawan, and Kwadugu Manu.
Here is the letter:
May 8, 2014
Dear pastor and
congregation at Long Green Valley Church,
As we arrived in
Nigeria a few weeks ago, we noticed that the rains had
fallen in the south, in the capital, turning the
countryside green. As we traveled to the headquarters of
the Church of the Brethren in Nigeria (Ekldesiyar Yan'uwa
a Nigeria, known as EYN), we noted that the country in the
northeast was thy and brown—a seemingly appropriate
metaphor for the political differences between the north
and the south.
While we personally
were safe, there was violence around us no matter where we
were. On the last day of our trip there was a large car
bombing in the Nigerian capital, Abuja, a mere five miles
from where we were staying. On the same day, more than 200
school girls were abducted from a former Church of the
Brethren school—now a government secondary school—in the
village of Chibok, in Borno State. We have learned from
church leaders in Nigeria that the majority of the girls
are from EYN.
When asked what the
American church can do at this time to be supportive, EYN
leaders asked us to engage in prayer and fasting.
Over the past several
years, EYN has been among the Christian and Muslim
communities that have been attacked by Boko Haram, an
extremist Islamic sect that carried out the abduction of
the school girls. Boko Haram has been responsible for many
terrorist attacks in northeastern Nigeria targeting
government installations such as police stations and army
barracks, as well as churches and mosques and schools, and
assassinating community leaders.
Samuel Dali, EYN
president, reports that 17 of the 50-plus districts of EYN
have suffered from the violence, with 383 EYN members
killed, 12 churches burnt down, and over 2,500 residential
houses belonging to members burnt down. Prior to the
kidnapping of the school girls, 15 EYN members had been
abducted by Boko Haram. More than 5,000 EYN members have
fled to Cameroon, Niger, and other neighboring countries,
and thousands of others are internally displaced within
These numbers represent a mere fraction of the total
Nigerian population so affected, both
Christian and Muslim.
The majority of the
school girls abducted from the school in Chibok were from
EYN, although the group included both Muslim and Christian girls. The Church
of the Brethren has
been involved in
Nigeria for decades, and it was the former Church of the
Brethren mission that first established the school at
Chibok in the late 1940s. In the mid-1970s the school was
one of many turned over to become a government school.
Most of the girls abducted from Chibok were from Christian
and Brethren homes, but many
were from Muslim homes, and we are not making a
distinction between them in our prayers.
It is important for us to pray for the safety of all
children. Most of the girls were between the ages of 16
and 18. The fear is that these girls are to be trafficked
as "war brides" and may end
up being sold across the border into surrounding countries
such as Niger and Chad.
The Church of the Brethren has contributed more than
$100,000 to the
Fund over the last year to support Nigerian Brethren families affected by
the violence. But
we need to do more.
In response to the request for prayer and fasting from the
Nigerian church, each of our
congregations in the United States is being assigned the
name of one of the abducted girls, so
that they may be engaged in focused prayer. Each girl will
have six congregations praying for
her. In addition, on an attached sheet is a list of names
of the girls whom we know about at this time, received
from EYN's liaison officer. The list has been published by
an affiliate of
the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN).
Your congregation is asked to pray specifically for:
the Lord said, 'I've clearly seen my people oppressed. . .
. I've heard their cry of injustice because of their slave
master. I know about their pain”
(Exodus 3:7). At the 2014
Majalisa, the annual conference of the Nigerian Brethren,
this verse was the theme scripture. Let it giveus
inspiration to trust in our savior God, who hears our
cries of distress.
Joining you in
Stanley J. Noffsinger
Executive Director for Global Mission & Service
also posted this on
his Facebook page:
When I was in Nigeria this past month, the Nigerian
Brethren expressed to me how painful it is to tally up all
the numbers of deaths, burnings, abductions,
displacements, tortures, etc. and send out a report. The
trauma and pain is beyond description.
While the broader church community wants to know the
details of the number of those affected by violence, for
the Nigerian Brethren leadership, providing those numbers
is an excruciating task. Understanding the situation is
vital, but let us also be sensitive to those living
through the crisis.