CHALLENGE: Is a real connection possible with someone you have never met?
Have you ever read a book and never wanted it to end? Have you watched a movie and completely related to one of the characters? Have you heard a song that resonated with your current circumstance? Have you heard a Bible story and knew the story was meant for you to hear during that season of your life?
Yes, we have all had instances where we felt connected to a book, character, song, and story. Something triggers us to want to know more and become immersed in the outcome. A few years ago, I read an email about a girl who was kidnapped and held in captivity because she refused to renounce her faith in Christ. My spirit was immediately gripped by this girl’s story. I began researching to find out as many details as possible about this girl. From that first email, I’ve had a real connection to her for reasons that I don’t understand.
INSPIRATION: Leah Sharibu
If you have not heard of Leah Sharibu, it is my incredible honor to share her story with you. At the age of 14, she was kidnapped from her school in Nigeria along with 109 of her classmates. The terrorist group, Boko Haram, released all the girls except for Leah because she was the only one who would not renounce Christ and convert to Islam.
In the book, "Leah Sharibu: The Girl Boko Haram Left Behind,” author Reno Omokri writes, "A group of radical Islamic terrorists, Boko Haram, is on a savage mission to end all forms of organized Western education in Nigeria. In keeping with their philosophy that Western education is sinful and the cause of most of society’s ills, this group of misguided radicals have either burnt or otherwise destroyed 1500 schools and twice that number of churches. With their hatred for Western education, coupled with their disdain for Christianity, led this group to the town of Dapchi where they abducted 110 girls from Government Girls Science and Technical College, Dapchi, on Monday, February 19, 2018. Leah Sharibu was one of 110 girls that were taken."
Omokri continues, "On March 21, 2018, Boko Haram released 104 girls (5 of the girls died either during abduction or while in captivity). Leah was not released." Leah was not released because she refused to convert to Islam.
On May 14, 2019, Leah celebrated her 16th birthday in captivity. No celebrations with her friends and family. No gifts. No special memories for a momentous milestone. BUT as a Christ follower with amazing courage, Leah knows all the rewards she will receive in eternity. She knows her eternal future is secure in Christ and no captivity will ever change that.
As of this writing, Leah is still believed to be alive and a prisoner of the terrorist group, Boko Haram. She is an extraordinary example to us of what it means to choose Christ over Comfort. We certainly do not understand why God is allowing her to suffer but we do know that He promises to bring good from all circumstances. "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose" (Romans 8:28).
Maybe the good will be at least one terrorist who sees the power of Christ in Leah and commits his life to the Savior. Maybe the good is all of Leah's family and community will become more committed to Christ and bring hope filled change to a corrupt government. Maybe the good will be an international movement of prayer warriors to flood God's throne for justice on the earth.
THE WORD OF TRUTH:
God is ALWAYS faithful.
We do not know the good God will use but we know He will use it. We can be comforted that He sees Leah; He has a plan for her and her family; He will bring freedom whether on this earth or in Heaven.
In the New Testament, Paul (a missionary for Christ) was imprisoned for many years of his life. As he writes in the verses below, he suffered everything in order for others to know the saving power of Jesus Christ. God tells us that we all will suffer for Christ. As Christ followers, we are never immune from struggle. However, God freely gives His wisdom and strength to endure and remain faithful.
2 TIMOTHY 2:8-13
"Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, descended from David. This is my gospel, for which I am suffering even to the point of being chained like a criminal. But God's word is not chained. Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory.
Here is a trustworthy saying:
If we died with Him, we will also live with Him;
If we endure, we will also reign with Him;
If we disown Him, He will also disown us;
If we are faithless, He will remain faithful, for He cannot disown Himself."
Our lives are not our own. Our lives are His for His will, His timing, and His glory. We can take the examples of Paul and Leah to encourage us to trust God in all circumstances and draw on His strength during our struggle. The more we know God's word, the more we are freely able to surrender to His will. The more we know God's faithfulness, the more we can trust His timing. The more we know God's character, the more we can use our lives to glorify Him.
God deliberately gives each of us a connection to a particular person, tribe of people, country, or cause. He creates a love inside of us to provide our prayers, passions, and purpose for helping them. We may never have an in-person connection, but it doesn’t make the connection any less real.
I will probably never meet Leah on this side of Heaven, but I know that I’m committed to foster this connection to her through prayer.
Whatever your connection is, ask God how He can use you to further His kingdom with this connection.
Verses and Resources for Leah:
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