Parents across Nigeria are stunned by the abduction of the Chibok girls in northeastern Nigeria.
Horrifically, kidnapping Nigerian girls is not new. Every occurrence is devastating to someone. The seizure of so many at once, however, has been shocking.
Families all over the country cannot imagine the experience of having their students abducted and forced to change their religion.
They want the Nigerian government and other nations to help to bring relief to these families. They feel suffocated, and they want to breathe again.
Questions abound for deeply troubled Nigerians:
â— What might be next?
â— How can a student go to the northeastern part of the country to study with this insurgency in the background?
â— How did this absurdity develop?
â— How does it survive?
â— Is this a war against Christianity?
â— How do Boko Haram members acquire the equipment used to terrorize people?
â— How does a sect develop the capacity to battle a national government?
â— Are there people in government or people with wealth who are enabling this insurgency?
â— How can Boko Haram believe that God sanctions them to commit acts of intimidation, abduction and murder?
â— Who will hear the cry of these distraught parents?
â— Will someone—anyone—bring these children home to their parents alive and well?
Nigeria is in agony, and they are not alone. This is a catastrophe for the country, its continent and the world. It dramatically highlights the threat under which many women and girls live daily—in Nigeria and beyond.
Gender-based violence does not only occur at the hands of a perverted sect. Women and girls endure mental, emotional and sexual violence daily in homes and neighborhoods all over the earth.
Women are degraded in rural and urban communities. Girls are defamed in prosperous and impoverished countries. Women, girls and families around the world share the agony of this crisis.
While we all share this agony, all of us also share the responsibility. Although only some directly perpetuate these horrors, others—men and women alike—are co-conspirators when they remain silent or refuse to prevent and defend against the abduction, exploitation and manipulation of women and girls.
We all share the guilt of this disgusting situation, and we all must share in its resolution.
We all must work to rescue the girls in Nigeria, and we all must work to ensure that girls and women in all of our communities are safe by resisting gender-based violence with everything within us.
We cannot tolerate the mistreatment of women and girls as objects to be used for financial gain, to satisfy perverted appetites or to extract concessions.
We must bring the girls home. But to do so will take more than hashtags and rallies.
We can help to bring the girls home in Nigeria and in all of our communities through awareness, action and advocacy to end gender-based violence and exploitation.
Bringing the Chibok girls home begins where we live and spreads abroad. We must attack and defeat this demonic reality near and far.
While working locally and demanding globally that governments collaborate on intelligence gathering and rescue operations for the Nigerian children, people of faith around the world should also draw on spiritual strength and cry to our God for justice.
1. Pray for God’s protection and deliverance of the abducted girls.
2. Pray for the Spirit’s comfort of and pastoral care for the traumatized children, parents and families.
3. Pray that Nigerians and their government will have the courage to face this tragic situation and resolve this matter with justice.
4. Pray that the Christian community will grow in faithful witness to Christ in these perilous times.
5. Pray for Christians and Muslims to work together for peace, harmony and the welfare of all children.
6. Pray for the purity of heart in Nigerians so that the stain of blood on the hands of so many can be cleaned.
7. Pray that the national elections of 2015 will be free and fair and result in elected leaders who can lead with integrity, wisdom and courage.
Bring our girls, all of our girls, home.
David Emmanuel Goatley is executive secretary-treasurer of the Lott Carey Baptist Foreign Mission Convention. Ishaya Gajere is pastor of the Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA) in Kaduna, Nigeria.