Kidnappings indicate a growing problem in Sub-Saharan Africa

Last month, Open Doors marked the third anniversary of the kidnapping of Leah Sharibu.

Leah was one of over 100 kidnapping victims taken from her home in Dapchi, Nigeria. While all the other victims that survived were released a month later, this young woman remains in captivity because of her refusal to deny her faith.

Three years later, the situation in Nigeria has not improved. In fact, violence continues to escalate not only in Nigeria but also other parts of Sub-saharan Africa. Nigeria rose several spots on the World Watch List in 2020, landing at number 9 globally under the category of extreme persecution. Multiple factors are involved, but one significant reason behind the rise of violence is the COVID-19 pandemic. While government efforts have been directed elsewhere, extremist groups and organized crime groups have stepped up their efforts.

The results have been disastrous, and the last few weeks have showcased it. On February 17, a group of armed bandits conducted a raid on a school in the region of Kagara. Forty-two people were abducted from a school, including students, teachers, and family members. Out of the forty-two, seven of them were confirmed as Christians.

This was devastating enough, but it was followed up on February 26 by an even larger raid. More than three hundred girls were taken from a government-run girls’ school in Zamfara state in Nigeria.

But God is still at work. On March 2nd, it was announced that all the captives had been released. The full details are still unknown, but the families have been reunited and prayers have been answered.

Despite this good news, Christians in sub-Saharan Africa continue to fear. Mass kidnappings leave the victims with trauma and fear that is not easily healed, even after their release. And in the case of Leah Sharibu, that release does not always come quickly. With increasing violence and a growing number of raids, it is more important than ever for the body of Christ around the world to stand together and support their persecuted family in prayer.


Thank God for the release of the captives. Continue to pray for the release of Leah Sharibu.

Pray for the ability to recover from the trauma that comes from being kidnapped.

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Dive deeper into the situation in Sub-Saharan Africa on the World Watch Weekly podcast.


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