DAPCHI, Nigeria – Leah Sharibu is 15 years old. She is one of more than a hundred Nigerian school girls who are either missing or held in captivity by the Boko Haram. Although the terrorist group, known for kidnapping school girls en masse, agreed to return the girls in exchange for the release of several jailed Boko Haram leaders, Leah was not among those who were freed.
She has remained a captive by choice. It’s not that she chooses to be a captive. It’s that she refuses to renounce Jesus Christ as demanded by the group for their release.
One of her classmates said, “We were freed because we are Muslim girls and they didn’t want to suffer.” She also indicated that her classmate refused to renounce her faith in Christ and convert to Islam.
Leah’s father, Nata Sharibu said, “Boko Haram insurgents decided not to release my daughter because she refused to denounce Christ. I am happy for that, even though as a father I wish she had returned home as the rest. But God is in control.” He said, “They gave her the option of converting to be released, but she said she will never become a Muslim.”
Boko Haram, which translates into English as “Western education is forbidden,” said that they released the girls out of pity but warned the parents to never send their children to school again.
Nathan Johnson, Regional Manager for Africa for International Christian Concern observed, “This cowardly act has shown that the terrorist organization truly despises Christians and their faith.”.
According to ABC News, Boko Haram, which seeks to establish an Islamic state, has spread its terror across Nigeria’s mountainous borders over the years into Niger, Chad, and Cameroon, all of which surround the Lake Chad Basin. The group’s uprising was fueled largely by its systematic campaign of abducting children and forcing thousands of girls and boys into their ranks.
In April 2014, the group kidnapped 276 schoolgirls from their boarding school in the town of Chibok in Borno State, about 170 miles northeast of Dapchi. Some of the girls managed to escape on their own, while others were later rescued or freed after negotiations. But the fate of many of the girls remains unknown.
Leah’s commitment to Christ is a radiant reflection of what the Apostle Paul told the Christians in Rome when he wrote, “With the heart believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. Whoever believes in Him will not be put to shame.” (Romans 10:10,11). Even more so, she can say along with Paul, “For this reason, I also suffer these things, nevertheless, I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day.” (2 Timothy 1:12)
- Punch, Freed 105 Dapchi girls flown to Abuja
- International Christian Concern, All But One of the Dapchi Schoolgirls Released, the Only Christian
- ABC News, Nigerian schoolgirl who ‘refused to denounce Christ’ remains captive after dozens freed, father says
- Christian Headlines, “God is in control:” A Nigerian Captive Defies Terrorists and Keeps her Christian Faith
- By CEE-HOPE NIGERIA (CEE-HOPE NIGERIA) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons