2/13/2019 (International Christian Concern) -- What would you do if you were suddenly given the ultimatum of converting to Islam or losing your life?
In the free Church, this is a theoretical exercise on which we ponder. In the persecuted world, this actually happens, as it did to Leah Sharibu from Nigeria.
At the age of 14, Leah was kidnapped on February 19, 2018, by Boko Haram.
The militants entered the town of Dapchi, Nigeria and went straight to a girl's school.
During the kidnapping, five girls died, but the Islamists escaped with 105 girls.
During the next month, the girls were moved to a secret location, indoctrinated with extremist ideals, and told that if they ever wanted to see their families again, they would have to do everything they were told. They were given little food or water, forced to work, and may have been sexually abused.
On March 21, one month later, Boko Haram released most of the girls. The government claims that no ransom was paid, but this has not been confirmed. Regardless, the heart of the story is the fact that when the girls were released, one of them remained with her kidnappers. That girl, 14-year-old Leah Sharibu, was the only Christian kidnapped.
Several of the released girls witnessed and testified to her amazing strength and faith while in captivity.
The morning of their release, Boko Haram had gathered the girls together and told them that they would be going home. As they were loading the girls onto trucks to return them to Dapchi, they pulled Leah from the group. They told her that she had to recite the Kalima Shahada, the Islamic recitation of faith. She replied that she “did not know it and that [she] would not denounce Christ.” As a result, they said that she wouldn’t be returning to her family. She sent word through the other girls to her parents, saying, “The will of God be done whether or not I survive.”
During her time in captivity, Boko Haram has executed two International Committee of the Red Cross workers on film at separate times, after failing to obtain a ransom. They threatened to kill Leah during the first execution, and have now stated that because the Nigerian government didn’t pay a ransom, they would keep her as a slave for life. Despite all of this, it is likely that she hasn’t denied Christ.
Her captors would have freed her if she had accepted the Islamic faith, to show the world that they still have the power to change people. But the power of faith in Christ is stronger than the fear of death, even for a teenage girl who is being held far from home against her will, abused, and indoctrinated with evil.
Her classmates tried to disguise her as a Muslim, and the Islamists said that she could return home if she converted, but she couldn’t hide her faith or lie about her love for Christ.
Please continue to pray for Leah. Pray for her faith to remain strong and for it to be a bold testimony in the face of her captors. Pray for the Sharibu family, as they continue to struggle with the terrible loss that they have suffered, knowing that their daughter is being held for her faith. Finally, pray that the Nigerian government would be moved to action.
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