In the words of an Open Doors spokesperson, ‘We have FANTASTIC news.’ Many of you will have seen the video featuring Peter Pogu*, whose daughter Grace was taken by Boko Haram that night in Chibok. Every day, Peter’s other children would ask him, ‘Where is Grace?’ and Peter would reply, ‘She will come. Grace will come.’
Well, the good news is that Grace is one of the 82 girls who have been released. Grace HAS come. Prayers have been answered.
‘Peter’s assurance to his family that Grace will come has by God’s grace been rewarded,’ says our source. ‘Praise the name of the Lord!’
82 Girls Have Been Released.
The 82 girls were taken by helicopter to Nigeria’s capital, Abuja to reunite with families and meet the President. They were released in exchange for Boko Haram suspects. However, over 100 of the abducted girls remain missing.
The government released a name list of the released girls on social media, but many parents do not have access to the internet. Some went to Abuja to see for themselves.
Government officials told media that most of the girls seemed to be in good condition and only one carried a baby boy less than 2-years-old. Sadly, some of those freed girls will be confronted with distressing news: 23 parents have died since their abduction. The president promised that all that is needed to be done to reintegrate them into the society will be done.
How Many Remain?
Nearly 300 girls were taken from their school in April 2014. The nighttime raid by militants of the Islamist Boko Haram insurgency touched off a globally attention to put pressure on the Buhari administration to free the girls.
Accounts have differed on the exact number of girls that originally were abducted in April 2014, and the number remaining in captivity. Most reports put the number of kidnapped at 276; others have said more than 300 girls were kidnapped initially, but that dozens of them managed to escape in the early hours and days of their abduction. The official line is that 113 of the schoolgirls remain missing.
Open Doors Director for OD work in West Africa, Jack van Tol, commented, “We rejoice with our brothers and sisters in Chibok, who, after such a long time, have finally heard the long awaited news of the release of their beloved daughters. We thank God for hearing the prayers of many people all over the world.
“With the release of kidnapped girls and women new challenges arise. Will they return to their home villages eventually, and if so, how will they be received? Will they suffer the same discrimination many other Boko Haram escapees have talked about? How will they recover from the forced Islamization, and will they receive adequate help to recover from the trauma of their abduction and of living with their notoriously violent captors? Will they suffer from the Stockholm syndrome in which they have become attached to their captors and feel sympathy for their cause?”
But van Tol adds: “Although the news of their release is brilliant news, we must not forget about the many more women, children and young men who remain in Boko Haram captivity where they continue to face horrible circumstances like forced Islamization, rape, beatings and being forced into carrying out suicide bombings. These captives do not enjoy the same media attention as the Chibok girls or benefit from the efforts by the government to secure their release. We call on the Body of Christ worldwide to continue to pray for complete restoration in the lives of the girls, the parents and all the host communities affected by Boko Haram violence. As Psalm 34:17 says: when the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles.”
Open Doors’ Response
The government has strictly controlled access to the previously released 21 girls. Most of the parents have seen their daughters only on two occasions, and this has invited criticism. For now, Open Doors does not expect to gain access any time soon. But we will remain as close as possible to the Chibok parents.
Over the past three years we have provided food, medical care and trauma care. (More food aid will be delivered later this month.) We have encouraged them through phone calls and have visited them. We have raised awareness of their plight and delivered thousands of encouragement letters from supporters. Please continue to remember them in your prayers.
* Names changed for security reasons.
Source: BBC; World Watch Monitor; Associated Press
- Praise God for the release of these 82 girls
- For God’s peace for parents eagerly awaiting confirmation of whether their daughters are among the newest group of released girls
- For exceptionally good physical and emotional care to the released girls
- For God’s protection and care over the around 100 girls that remain unaccounted for
- For continued progress in negotiations for their release.