Leah: A heroine of faith
On Feb 19, 2018, 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: Tuesday, February 19, 2019
Today, Feb 19, 2019, is one year since the abduction of Leah Sharibu (15) and 104 others from the Dapchi Secondary School situated in Nigeria’s north-eastern Yobe State. One month after the abduction all but one student were released. Leah was kept because she refused to give up her Christian faith.
Last Sunday Leah’s family renewed their appeal to the Nigerian Federal government and the international community not to give up on her daughter. Leah’s mother, Rebecca, pleaded with President Buhari, the United States and other world powers to do everything to rescue her. She urged the president and the ministerial delegation to keep the promise they made when they visited her last year.
“I have come before you and the federal government to plead that you don’t forget Leah…The President spoke with me on the phone and encouraged me not to worry, and with the assurance that my daughter will be released. Three ministers also visited me and gave me the assurance but till today I haven’t heard anything, hence my coming before you to plead.”
Open Doors has been in regular contact with Leah’s family and is offering them both practical and emotional support. We invite you to write a note of encouragement we can forward to Leah’s parents as they continue to hope and pray for Leah’s release. You can send your letters and notes to – email@example.com
- For Leah Sharibu and the other women in captivity with her, that God would strengthen and comfort them, and that they would be released.
- That God would keep Leah’s family in His perfect peace while they wait for more news.
- For all those involved in negotiating Leah’s release, that God would grant them His wisdom, and that He would soften the hearts of Leah’s captors and turn them to Himself.
Prayer for Leah according to Psalm 46
When fear threatens to overwhelm, when evil men try to intimidate, God please be Leah’s refuge and her strength.
When there is trouble all around – violence, hunger, exhaustion – Lord, be her very present help.
In this calamity – though it seems to make the earth give way, move the mountains into the sea, make the waters roar so much that the mountains tremble – keep Leah fee from fear.
Give her joy and gladness in You right in the midst this ordeal. If she is reminded that Your help is near, she will not be moved.
Before you, dear Lord, Leah’s captors may rage, but their kingdom totters; when you say the word, the earth will melt away. LORD of hosts, remind Leah that You are with her; You, the God of Jacob, is her fortress.
Father, there is much we don’t understand, but in faith we say: Come, behold the works of the LORD, how he has brought desolations on the earth. We know: You make wars cease to the end of the earth; You break the bow and shatter the spear; You burn the chariots with fire. Father God, in your time, do this for our Leah.
Until then, God, give us the grace to be still, and know that You are God.
Be exalted among the nations. Be exalted in the earth!
The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.
UPDATE: Monday, October 15, 2018
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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.