Leah: A heroine of faith

On Feb 19, Boko Haram kidnapped more than 100 girls from the secondary school in the town of Dapchi, southern Yobe State in Nigeria. The government on Feb 26 confirmed that 110 girls remained unaccounted for. Leah Sharibu was the only Christian in the group. On March 21 all the girls, except for Leah, were released through back-channel efforts. Leah’s father told local media he heard that it is because she is a Christian and refused to convert to Islam. Open Doors visited the family recently to encourage them and pray with them.

 

UPDATE: Monday, October 15

We seek your prayers for the safety of Leah Sharibu. Her kidnappers have killed another hostage today, according to Nigeria’s independent online newspaper, The Cable. The media outlet also quoted the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) saying Sharibu will become its “slave for life.”

On September 16, Boko Haram released a video of an execution of a kidnapped Red Cross worker and issued an ultimatum to the government, threatening to kill Leah Sharibu and two other kidnapped AID workers.

Leah’s mother, Rebecca called on the Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari last week, to secure her daughter’s release. October 15th was the deadline given by the extremist group to meet their demands.

Meanwhile, Nigerian President Muhamadu Buhari has said that, “The thoughts & prayers of all Nigerians are with the Sharibu family, & the families of all those still in captivity. We will do everything we can to bring them back.”

Please pray for Leah to stand strong in her faith in Jesus at this time. Pray for her parents, that they will see Leah back home soon.

The news reached Leah’s parents that their daughter was not coming back home. They got to know that she took a stand for her Christian faith and refused to convert. She did not give in to Boko Haram threats. Niether did she give in to her friends imploring her to come with them. She stood her ground and was told she could not step into the vehicle taking the rest of the girls back home to Dapchi. Leah’s parents heard the entire account from her abducted friends who reached back home.

Alone

Leah asked her departing Muslim classmates to pray for her. She also asked her friends to give her mother a message: “My mother you should not be disturbed. I know it is not easy missing me, but I want to assure you that I am fine where I am. My God, whom we have been praying to with you, is showing Himself mighty in my trying moment. I know your words to me during our morning devotions that God is very close to people in pain. I am witnessing this now. I am confident that one day I shall see your face again. If not here, then there at the bosom of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

The message was so hard to deal with, Rebeccah momentarily fainted. She also found it very traumatic to hear the stories some of the Dapchi girls told her after their release. One of Leah’s friends told how Leah escaped and roamed for three days before she was captured and sent back to captivity.

A true heronie of faith

But in a way these circumstances are bringing Leah’s family to a higher level of trust and faith in God. “When their hearts are failing due to abject fear of the unknown, Natha and Rebecca Sharibu see it as an opportunity to interact with God and enjoy his presence,” our team members mentioned.

Natha is stunned by his daughter’s spiritual strength. The confidence and faith of my daughter in the face of death in the hands of Boko Haram, to say she will never denounce Christ, made me realize that I had been living with a strong follower of Christ in my house. I am highly encouraged by her strong faith in the Lord. I could only imagine what I would have done if I were in her shoes. My daughter’s testimony has drawn me very closer to Christ. I am a proud father  and call on her to remain faithful to God… Hold on to Christ, Leah. You are a heroine of faith.

Leah’s pastor has brought Muslims and Christians together in Dapchi to pray and call for her release. “All over Dapchi, we have all been organizing prayer sessions. All the churches in Dapchi are praying,” Pastor Daniel Auta of the Evangelical Church Winning All (ECWA) told media.

Open Doors calls on supporters to send messages of encouragement to Natha and Rebeccah Sharibu via email. Please send us notes of encouragement and we will make sure these reach Nathan and Rebeccah Sharibu. Email these to us at encourage@odcan.org

Prayer points

Please thank the Lord with us for Leah’s testimony. Pray for His all-sufficient grace to her as she remains in captivity. Pray for continued urgency to get her released. Also remember the Chibok girls who remain in captivity four years after their release, as well as their parents.